Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Secret Places Banned to the Public

Secretive Russian town of Mezhgorye

There is a town in Russia, called Mezhgorye, which is barred to anyone, except for those believed to work at the highly secretive Mount Yamantaw site, thought by many to be either an ultra-secret research facility, or be nuclear. Founded in 1979. The town is at the foot of the mountain, the highest in the Urals, at 5,381ft, where US satellites have recorded excavation projects, on a huge scale, though repeated enquiries about the nature of operations, at this maddeningly closely watched community, have been met by bland responses, such as it being a mine of some kind, or a repository for Russian treasures, and even as somewhere for government, in case of disaster, but nobody knows.

The mysterious Moscow metro2

Moscow, capital city of Russia, supposedly has a secondary, secret underground metro system, known as Metro-2, running parallel to the public Metro. Built, it is thought, during Stalin’s time, KGB codename for the project being D-6. The existence of this phantom system has never been confirmed, nor denied, by the FSB -Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, or indeed the Moscow Metro administration themselves. Rumored to be much longer, in length, than the public Metro.  And to consist of four lines, running between 50 and 200m below ground it connects the Kremlin with the FSB headquarters, Vnukovo-2 government airport, plus underground town Ramenki, as well as other, undisclosed locations.

The super secret Area 51 Groom Lake facility

Area 51, a phrase well known around the world, is a military base, Groom Lake, in the southern portion of Nevada, USA, 83 miles from Las Vegas. Found along the southern shore of Groom Lake, the large, secretive, military airfield appears to be involved in the development, and testing of experimental aircraft, as well as advanced weapons systems research.  So closely guarded is this place, and so well monitored, that it has been the subject of conspiracy theory for decades. Even the U.S. government only reluctantly admits to the existence of this place, and the fact that deadly force can, and has been used against people trying to get into the Area 51 zone, really does make you wonder

The ultra secretive Room 39 of North Korea

North Korea, that most oppressive of states, is infamous for Room 39, sometimes called Bureau 39, one of the most secretive of their organizations, dedicated to seeking methods of obtaining foreign currency for North Korea’s leader. Established in the late 1970s and described, by some in the west, as the lynchpin of the dynastic Kim family dealings. Room 39 is such a secretive institution that none are sure exactly what goes on there, though it is widely believed that ten to twenty bank accounts, in Switzerland and China, are used in illegalities such as counterfeiting, money laundering, drug smuggling and illicit weapon sales. The organization has, reportedly, 120 foreign trade companies that it operates, under the direct control of the ruling family, who obviously deny any illegal activities. Room 39 is believed to be l inside a ruling Workers’ Party building in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, but nobody knows for sure

The Inaccessible Ise Grand Shrine of Japan

Japan has an amazing series of over 100 shrines, known as the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred shrine in the country. Dedicated to Amaterasu, the Sun goddess, this wondrous place has existed since 4BC, and it is thought that the main shrine contains the single, most important item in Japanese imperial history, the Naikū. This is the mirror, from Japanese mythology, which graced the hands of the first emperors of Japan. Demolished, purely to enable rebuilding, every 20 years, honoring Shinto ideas of death and rebirth, the shrine is barred to anyone but the priest or priestess, who has to a member of the Japanese imperial family everyone else is kept away by very alert guards.

The terrifying Mount Weather Emergency operations center.

Mount Weather is not somewhere that that the US publics ever really want to goes to. This is the genuine article, as in the disaster films, where some highly classified area has been prepared, to accept the lucky few destined to survive. Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center truly is the real thing, set up in the 1950s, during the cold war; it still operates today, as a “last hope” area, though naturally highly classified. Federal Emergency Management Agency staffs, FEMA, are in charge of it, and already, when required much of US telecommunications traffic can be routed through it, so that emergency services operate well

The incredibly intrusive RAF Menwith Hill

The global ECHELON spy network, much employed by US and British governments, is the reason why Royal Air Force station Menwith Hill exists. Containing extensive satellite tracking ground systems, this communications intercept, and missile warning site, has been called the largest electronic monitoring station on earth. Ground station for satellites, of the US National Reconnaissance Office, serving the US National Security Agency, the station is famous for having antennae contained in highly distinctive white radomes. Believed by some to be part of the ECHELON system, reportedly created for the purpose of monitoring military and diplomatic communications, from Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc allies, during the Cold War, and these days I believed to search also for terrorist plots, drug dealing information, as well as political and diplomatic intelligence. Also believed to be involved filtering all telephone and radio communications in the western world, though not proven, this is an incredibly secretive and well guarded place that the public can never get into.

Friday, June 17, 2011

15 Most Disturbing, Vicious and Evil Serial Killers

15. Bloody Benders – America


Bloody Benders is a family of serial killers who owned a small general store and inn in Labette County, Kansas. They are known to have killed 11 rich travelers who stayed at their inn. The Bender family home had a large room that was divided by a curtain. They used to give a seat of honor to their rich guests, with his back to the curtain. Kate, the daughter of John Bender, would distract the guest, while John Bender or his son would come from behind the curtain and strike the guest on the skull with a hammer. The throat of all the victims was then cut to ensure their death. They used to strip the body in their secret cellar and bury it. They are the subject of many novels, books and plays, including Hell Benders (1999) by Ken Hodgson, Lyle Brandt’s novel Massacre Trail (2009), Cottonwood (2004) by Scott Phillips, Candle of the Wicked (1960) by Manly Wade Wellman and They Bite (1943) by Anthony Boucher. They could never be caught.

14. Shen Changyin and Shen Changping/Cannibal Brothers – China


These Chinese serial killers also known as Cannibal brothers, targeted prostitutes. They killed 11 prostitutes in 1 year from June 2003 to August 2004 along with 3 female accomplices. They ate their livers, burned the bodies with Sulphuric acid and flushed them down the toilet. They had plotted the murders after they lost money when their Lanzhou auto parts business failed. The Shens and Li were sentenced to death in September 2005. Three other female accomplices were sentenced to 3 to 20 years in prison.

13. Dennis Nilsen/Muswell Hill Murderer/The Kindly Killer – England


This vicious and psycho serial killer killed at least fifteen men and boys between 1978 and 1983 and retained their corpses. He was eventually caught when someone complained of drain blockage. The drain cleaning company found that the drains were congested with human flesh and contacted the police. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was initially given a 25 years sentence which was later extended to whole life tariff.

12. David and Catherine Birnie/Moorhouse murders – Australia


This vicious and soulless Australian couple kidnapped and abducted 5 women ranging in age from 15 to 35 in their home in the 1980s. They repeatedly raped them and brutally killed 4 of them. The way they raped and killed these women was extremely inhuman, vicious and brutal. They buried them in a forest. Their final and the only victim to survive their attacks was seventeen-year-old Kate Moir. She managed to escape and contacted the police. He pleaded guilty. When asked why he pleaded guilty, he pointed toward the victims’ families and said, “It’s the least I could do.” He was sentenced to four consecutive sentences of life imprisonment along with Catherine. He committed suicide by hanging in his cell in 2005. Catherine is still in the prison under the orders ‘never to be released’.

11. Ted Bundy – America


This prolific and vicious American serial killer murdered over 30 white middle-class females between the ages of 15 and 25. Bundy’s victims were beaten then strangled. He was also guilty of rape and necrophilia. He collected the heads of the victims as souvenirs. He was executed by electric chair by the state of Florida in 1989. He killed women who resembled his fiancée Stephanie Brooks and had similar hair styles.

10. Dean Arnold Corll/Houstan Mass Murder/The Candy Man – America


He lured and killed 27 young boys with two younger accomplices David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley. He raped them and then shot or strangled them to death. His accomplices found his victims for him for $200 each. This case is known as ‘Houston Mass Murders’ and is one of the worst case of serial killing in American history. He was killed by one of his accomplices.

9. Ahmad Suradji – Indonesian


He was a witch doctor and a ritualistic serial killer. He killed 42 young or middle aged girls and women in 11 years. He buried his victims up to their waists and then strangled them. In his confession he told that he had done so to become a mystic healer. He put the blame on the ghost of his father who came in his dream and directed him to kill these women and drink their saliva if he wants to become a mystic healer. He was executed by firing squad on July 10, 2008.

8. Alexander Pichushkin/Chessboard Killer/The Bitsa Park Maniac – Russia


This vicious and cruel evil minded killer killed 48 people, most of which were elderly homeless men in Southwest Moscow’s Bitsa Park. He found pleasure in killing and killed in competition with Russia’s most notorious serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, who was convicted in 1992 of killing 52 children and young women in 12 years. He killed them by smashing their heads with a hammer from the back to avoid splashing of blood on his face. He asked the Russian court to add an additional 11 victims to his body count, bringing his claimed death toll to 60 and 3 surviving victims. He is in life imprisonment, the first 15 years of which he will spend in solitary confinement.

7. Gary Leon Ridgway/The Green River Killer – America


This brutal murder had 48 charges of aggravated first degree murder. He is also known as the Green River Killer because his first 5 victims were found by the Green River. He in a statement said that killing young women was his career, most of which were prostitutes. In 2005 he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

6. Andrei Chikatilo/The Red Ripper/The Rostov Ripper – Russia


The vicious evil beast killed 53 women and children (of both genders) for sexual satisfaction. They were killed in different ways but all were mutilated. Andrei Chikatilo was shot and executed on February 14, 1994.

5. Yang Xinhai/Monster Killer – China


This cruel and soulless serial killer committed 65 murders and 23 rapes between 1999 and 2003. His DNA got him caught. Yang was executed on February 14, 2004, by a gunshot to the back of the head

4. Carl Eugene Watts/Coral – America


Watts was an African American and killed more than 100 white females between the ages of 14 and 44. He did the first murder at the age of 20 in 1974. He kidnapped his victims from their homes, torturing them, and then murdering them. Watts initially confessed the murder of 12 women. Later he claimed to have killed 40 women and has also implied that there were more than 80 victims in total. Police considers Watts a suspect in 90 unsolved murders. He was given a 60 years life sentence and died of cancer.

3. Luis Garavito/ The Beast – America



This Colombian rapist and serial killer brutally killed at least 140 young boys. He drew a map in prison indicating the locations of the skeletons of the victims. According to that the count exceeds 300. He raped his victims and then had their throats slit.  He was initially imprisoned for 30 years which was later reduced to 22 years.

2. Countess Erzsébet Báthory/Blood Countess/Blood Queen – Hungry



This evil soul Hungarian countess slaughtered six hundred or more innocent young virgin women in order to improve her complexion and also to maintain her failing grasp on her youth. She bathed in their blood. Her accomplices were executed. She, on the other hand, was bricked into rooms of her castle for house arrest till death. Her character has appeared in many dramas, plays and film.

1. Thug Behram – India


Thug Behram was one of the most lethal and prolific serial killers of all times. He was a member of Indian Thuggee cult. He may have murdered up to 931 victims by strangulation between 1790–1840. He used his ceremonial cloth for all the murders. Today Behram’s ‘confession’ is available in a manuscript on Thuggee written by James Paton, an East India Company officer working for the Thuggee and Dacoity Office in the 1830s. According to that he probably killed 125 men or 50 more and was present on the site at the time of the killing of 931 men. The evil was brought to an end in 1840 by hanging.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

10 Most Terrifying Places on Earth

Riddle House

The History
The Riddle House in Palm Beach County, Florida, was originally a funeral parlor. The Victorian house was dismantled and rebuilt in Yesteryear Village at the South Florida fair grounds. In the 1920’s the house became privately owned by Karl Riddle.
The Terror
Joseph, one of Riddle’s former employees, committed suicide by hanging himself in the attic of the house. Joseph, for whatever reason, hated men, and displays this hatred by attacking men who enter the attic. One man had a lid flung at his head, and men are now no longer allowed in the attic. Other places in the house are haunted as well, with furniture being frequently moved.


The History
The Northern part of Summit County in Ohio is known by the eerily blunt moniker, Helltown. In the 70’s, Boston Township was the site of a government buyout, and subsequent mass eviction of citizens. The houses were intended to be torn down and the land used for a national park, but the plans never quite manifested. Legends spawned wildly, and who can blame the legend mongers? Driving through the dark, wooded landscape was enough to give you chills even when it was populated, let alone when you have to drive by boarded up houses standing next to the burnt out hulks of others (the local fire department used some buildings for practice).
The Terror
Whether based on a kernel of truth or cooked up in the heads of creative visitors, the persistent legends of Helltown add to the creep factor. The steep Stanford Road drop off, immediately followed by a dead end, and is aptly named The End of the World. If you get stuck at this dead end for too long, according to ghost story enthusiasts, you may meet your end at the hands of many members of the endless parade of freaks patrolling the woods. Satanists, Ku Klux Klan members, an escaped mental patient, an abnormally large snake, and mutants caused by an alleged chemical spill proudly march in this parade. And if you stray from the roads, you may find Boston Cemetery, home to a ghostly man, grave robbers and, the quirkiest of all, a moving tree.

Stull Cemetery

The History
Stull, Kansas, is a tiny, unincorporated town in Bumfuck, Douglas County. Ten miles west of Lawrence and thirteen miles east of Topeka puts it far from anything resembling a large population center. The population of Stull is approximately 20 people. But, don’t let the deceptively quaint village fool you. A darker side lurks behind the bushes and in the shadows.
The Terror
In the early 20th century, two tragedies rocked the tiny settlement (please observe, these are not legend or folklore, but fact). First, a father finished burning a farm field, only to find the charred corpse of his young son in the aftermath. The second incident to occur was a man went missing, and was later found hanged from a tree. As far as legends go, the infamous cemetery is where you can find your fill of supernatural lore. The book Weird US has this to say on Stull Cemetery:
“There are graveyards across America that go beyond merely being haunted and enter into the realm of the diabolical. They are places so terrifying that they say the devil himself holds courts with his worshippers there. The cemetery on Emmanuel Hill in Stull, Kansas, is one of these places.”
Rumors exist stating that Stull Cemetery is one of the 7 gateways to Hell. While the old church is now demolished, many attempt to sneak in at night for a peek at the unsavory goings-on. But be warned, the police patrol heavily, especially on Halloween and the spring equinox. The place is supposed to be so unholy, in fact, that some claim Pope John Paul II refused to allow his plane to fly over eastern Kansas, on his way to an appearance in Colorado. The validity of this last claim is up for debate, but none can deny that legends or not, Stull Cemetery is a terrifying place to be.

The Ridges

The History
Originally known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum, The Ridges was renamed after the state of Ohio acquired the property. The hospital saw hundreds of lobotomies, and often declared masturbation and epilepsy to be the causes of insanity in patients.
The Terror
Athens, Ohio, is listed as the 13th most haunted place in the world, as per the British Society for Psychical Research. The nearby Ohio University (which currently owns most of the property on which the Ridges is located) is said to be heavily haunted. The notorious rapist with Dissociative Identity Disorder, Billy Milligan, was housed at the facility for years. The most famous story; however is that of a 54 year old female patient who ran away and was missing for 6 weeks. She was found dead in an unused ward. She had taken off all of her clothes, neatly folded them, and lay down on the cold concrete where she subsequently died. Through a combination of decomposition and sun exposure, her corpse left a permanent stain on the floor, which is still visible today. Her spirit now haunts the abandoned ward.

Humberstone and LaNoria

The History
These two abandoned mining towns in Chile were recently featured on an episode of the SyFy Channel’s show, Destination Truth. In 1872, the town was founded as a saltpeter mine, and business boomed. However, after several heavy blows (including the Great Depression), the business declined and then collapsed in 1958, and the town of Humberstone and it’s surrounding towns were abandoned by 1960. Treatment of workers in both towns bordered on slavery, and now the towns are left standing derelict.
The Terror
It is rumored that the dead of the La Noria cemetery rise at night and walk around the town, and ghostly images frequently show up in photographs in Humberstone. These towns are so terrifying; the residents of nearby Iquique refuse to enter them. The former residents never left, and can be seen walking around, and children have been heard playing. The cemetery of La Noria, regardless of whether its occupants actually walk at night, contains opened graves where the bodies are fully exposed, leaving you to wonder why. Is it ghosts, or is it grave robbers? As if either prospect is very appealing.

Byberry Mental Asylum
The History
The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry, or known simply as Byberry, was the poster image for patient maltreatment. The hospital, in its most popular form, was founded in 1907, and known as the Byberry Mental Hospital. It exceeded its patient limit quickly, maxing out at over 7,000 in 1960. It housed everything from the mentally challenged to the criminally insane. Due to its atrocious conditions, and the sub-human treatment of its patients, the hospital was closed and abandoned in 1990. It had since become a nuisance for the neighborhood, as it was a breeding ground for vandals, arsonists, Satanists, and urban explorers. It was demolished in 2006, in spite of the fear of spreading asbestos, (which is what kept it standing for 16 years).
The Terror
The terrifying aspect of this location isn’t so much its haunting or the unsavory characters that lurked after dark. The terror here comes from the facts of the how the hospital was run. Human excrement lined the hallways, which were also where many patients slept. The staff was abusive, and frequently exploited and harassed patients. One patient had a tooth pulled without Novocaine, while another killed and dismembered a female patient. Although the killer, Charles Gable, was never found, the victim’s body was found strewn across the property. Her teeth were found being played with by another patient. Even as the hospital was in the process of closing, two released patients were found dead in the Delaware River, two successive days after their release. Perhaps that gate in Stull Cemetery opens here.

Leap Castle

The History
While this Irish castle is perhaps the most popular location featured on the list, it is worth recapping the long and often gruesome history. Although it was built by the O’Bannons in the late 15th century, the castle was taken over by the ruling O’Carrolls, to whom the O’Bannons were subject. After the death of Mulrooney O’Carroll, a fierce rivalry erupted, culminating in two brothers struggling for control. One of the brothers, a priest, was brutally murdered in his own chapel, in front of the family, by the other brother. This chapel is now known as the Bloody Chapel, for obvious reasons. Many people were held prisoner and even executed at the castle.
The Terror
The castle is rumored to be haunted by a vast number of spirits, including a violent, hunched beast known only as the Elemental. It is most recognizable by the accompanying smell of rotting flesh and sulphur. While renovating the castle, workers discover an oubliette, which is a dungeon accessible only through a ceiling hatch, into which prisoners are thrown, then forgotten and left to die. This particular oubliette contained three cartloads of human remains, and was filled with spikes to impale those thrown into its depths.

Shades of Death Road

The History
This New Jersey road winds through 7 miles of countryside, and along that stretch it gives us no definitive clues as to the origin of its eerie name (for those wondering, Shades of Death is not a nickname given by locals, but is in fact the road’s official moniker). While the explanation for this highly unusual name has been lost, many theories abound. Some say that murderous highwaymen would rob and kill those along the road. Others say the reason was because of violent retaliations by the locals against the very same highwaymen, resulting in their lynched corpses being hung up as a warning. Some attribute it to three murders that occurred in the 20’s and 30’s. The first murder saw a robber beating his victim over the head with a tire iron, the second saw a woman decapitate her husband and bury the head and body on separate sides of the road, and the third consisted of poor Bill Cummins being shot and buried in a mud pile. Some attribute it to massive amounts of fatal car crashes, while others consider it the fault of viscous wildcats from the nearby Bear Swamp. The most likely explanation, however, is that malaria-bearing mosquitoes terrorized the locals year to year, and the remoteness of the area prevented good medical attention from being prominent in the area. This is supported by the fact that, in 1884, most of the swamps in the area were drained.
The Terror
Gruesome history and spooky name aside, you have much to fear along this byway. South of the I-80 overpasses lies an officially unnamed lake that most will tell you is called Ghost Lake. This lake is frequently the home of specter-like vapors, and the sky is supposed to be unusually bright, no matter what time of night you are there. As per the name, ghosts of the highwaymen’s victims roam the area, and they are most frequent in the abandoned cabin across the lake. The dead-end road known as Lenape Lane is home to thick fogs and apparitions, you may be chased off the road by a white light. I’ll let Wikipedia detail the most disturbing aspect of the road:
“One day during the 1990s, some visitors found hundreds of Polaroid photographs scattered in woods just off the road. They took some and shared them with Weird NJ, which published a few as samples. Most of the disturbing images showed a television changing channels, others showed a woman or women, blurred and somewhat difficult to identify, lying on some sort of metal object, conscious but not smiling. Local police began an investigation after the magazine ran an item with the photos, but the remainder disappeared shortly afterwards.”

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
The History
Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, home of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This former high school was converted, in 1975, to Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge. The prison was used as a base to torture and murder prisoners. Most of the prisoners were former soldiers and government officials from the Lon Nol regime. However, the Khmer Rouge leaders’ paranoia soon caught up with them, and they began shipping people from their own ranks to the prison. Many prisoners were tortured and tricked into naming their family and associates, who were them also arrested, tortured and murdered.
The Terror
The ghosts of the estimated 17,000 victims of Tuol Sleng continue to roam the halls, and odd happenings around the place are often attributed to them: and it isn’t hard to see why. Most were forced to confess to crimes they didn’t actually commit. Although most victims were Cambodians, many foreigners fell victim to the death machine, including Americans, French, a New Zealander, a Briton, Australians, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis and Vietnamese. Only 12 people are thought to have survived. To close the entry on this sad history, I’ll leave you with the actual security regulations, the ten rules all prisoners had to abide by. All imperfect grammar is said in context due to poor translation.
1.      You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that; you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dares to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.

The Mines of Paris
The History
The seemingly infinite tunnels that run below the streets of Paris should not be confused with the Catacombs of Paris; the famous underground ossuary, although the mines are also mistakenly referred to as the catacombs. Exploring the mines is illegal, and penalties include heavy fines. The mines were used to dig out minerals from Paris’ varied sediment (the location where Paris is was submerged for millions of years), and the tunnels are what got left behind.
The Terror
The mines are now unkempt, unpatrolled and unsafe. As far as legends go, ancient cults and creatures patrol the depths. Spirits dwell in the infinite shadows, and if one wanders deep enough, and survives, they may even enter Hades itself. As far as reality goes, those legends can take a back seat. The tunnels stretch for close to 600 kilometers throughout the Parisian underground, and most of them are unmapped. Saying it is easy to get lost is an understatement. It is nearly impossible not to get lost. Many parts of the catacombs are hundreds of feet below street level. Some hallways are flooded, or are so narrow you have to crawl through them. There are holes that drop hundreds of feet, and manholes that are unreachable, luring unwary urban explorers in with false promises of freedom. The infinite underground maze absorbs sound, mutes it, making it unlikely you will hear somebody yelling for help, even if they are not far away. Or, worse yet, making it unlikely somebody will hear you. Thousands of human bones litter the tunnels, due to overcrowding in many of Paris’ cemeteries. Weird paintings adorn the walls. Are they ancient? Are they new? Are they warnings? Or pleas for help? If you have claustrophobia, you will want to avoid the mines at all costs. If you don’t have claustrophobia, you probably will after a trip through the mines. Bring plenty of batteries, backup flashlights, clean water, a friend, and say a prayer before entering the mines of Paris. You will need them all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Top 10 J-Pop Songstresses

J-pop, short for Japanese pop, is, according to Wikipedia, a loosely-defined musical genre that entered the musical mainstream of Japan in the 1990s. Modern J-pop has its roots in 1960s music such as The Beatles and replaced kayokyoku (“Lyric Singing Music”, a term for Japanese pop music from the 1920s to the 1980s) in the Japanese music scene. The term was coined by the Japanese media to distinguish Japanese music from foreign music, and now refers to most Japanese popular music.”—-Wikipedia

10. Angela Aki


Angela Aki is notable in that her musical style is, for the most part, quite unlike that of the others on this list. Much of her music is orchestral or acoustic and in nearly, if not ALL, of her songs she plays the piano, one of her trademarks, and for good reason, being incredibly gifted at it. Her look is also very unique in the Jpop industry-her wild black hair, black glasses, and distinctly non-Japanese features are an incredibly refreshing sight. Aki was born to a Japanese father and Italian-American mother and is fluent in both Japanese and English and sings in both. She may also be known to fans of the Final Fantasy series for her song “Kiss Me Good-Bye”, used as the theme song for Final Fantasy XII, as well as singing a cover of the Final Fantasy VIII theme song “Eyes On Me.” Her most successful singles include the aforementioned “Kiss Me Good-Bye”, “This Love”, “Sakurairo”, and “Tegami (Haikei Jugo no Kimi e).”

9. Nami Tamaki


Nami Tamaki is truly talented, being known for her powerful dancing. Making her debut in 2003 with her single “Believe”, she has since put out 6 studio albums and 2 compilation albums, 4 of those albums making it into the top 10 and 2 of those four making #1 in Japan. Her voice is pleasant and her dancing is unique and powerful. Her music also steps out of just J-pop, sometimes taking very a very dark rock sound. Also, it probably doesn’t hurt to mention that she’s gorgeous.

8. Yuna Ito


Yuna Ito is an interesting artist on this list. First, it should be noted that she is in fact American, being born in Los Angeles and raised in Hawaii (though she is of Japanese ancestry). She is thus fluent in both Japanese and English. Additionally, she is one of the few on this list that is an actress as well, making her debut in film along with music in 2005 with her role in the film “Nana” and her single “Endless Story”, used as the theme song for the movie. She has since released three studio albums, her debut album, “Heart” ranking #1 in the charts in Japan. Quite honestly, it’s hard not to find her charming. Her sweet appearance and strong vocals, being inspired by the vocals of Celine Dion, are just downright pleasant. Also, it’s interesting to note that she and Angela Aki are good friends in real life.

7. Hitomi


Another singer on this list that I am less fond of, Hitomi is notable in that she is one of the artists on this list that has been active the longest, starting her music career in 1994. Also, her success is another reason she’s on this list, having sold over 8,830,000 copies of all her albums, singles, and video releases in Japan, according to Wikipedia. She is perhaps one of the first major J-pop artists and her biggest hits include “Candy Girl”, “Love 2000″, and “Samurai Drive.” Since her debut, she has put out 9 studio albums and 1 compilation album. She has also written the lyrics to nearly all of her songs. She is known in Japan for her supermodel allure.

6. Yui


One of my favorites on this list, Yui is an incredibly talented young woman, writing, composing, and arranging her own music, playing multiple instruments (she is well known for her guitar playing), and being an actress. Despite being J-pop artists, she often delves into rock and it suits her well. Her voice and looks are strangely deceiving, having typical cute qualities (high voice, sweet features. She has released 4 studio albums and one compilation album and many of her songs have been used in animes (Bleach, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, etc). It must be said, I highly recommend her.

5. Kumi Koda


Koda is another interesting artist on this list. She is well known for delving into the Urban and R&B genres as well as her provocative and sexy. She is a talented dancer and has also won many fashion awards. Yet, despite that, it’s hard not to love listening to her dance tracks. Koda’s songs have explored themes of sexuality and taboos, a few of them even dealing with homosexuality since the start of her career in 2000, she has written the lyrics to her songs and has released 9 studio albums and countless compilations. Her number one singles include “You”, “Feel”, “Yume no Uta / Futari de…”, “Freaky”, “Taboo”, “Stay with me”, and “Alive / Physical Thing.”

4. Namie Amuro


Notable for being the longest active singer on this list, Namie Amuro is incredibly popular in Japan, even being revered as the “Queen of Japanese pop music.” At the height of her popularity, she was also a fashion leader in Japan, leading to the Amuraa craze in Japan which evolved into ganguro, for better or for worse (mostly for worse…just look up ganguro.) Her popularity fell in the mid 2000′s, though in more recent years, she has gained it back. She is without a doubt a huge contributor to Japanese pop culture and fashion.

3. Ayumi Hamasaki


She is among the most successful musical artists in Japanese history, selling over 50 million albums there. She also holds many records in Japan, such as most number one hits overall by a female artist, most consecutive number one hits by a female artist, highest sales, and most million-sellers. Since 1999, she has had at least one single top the charts each year.  Hamasaki is the first female singer to have eight studio albums since her debut to top the Oricon (Japanese music charts) and the first artist to have a number-one album for 11 consecutive years since her debut. She also writes all of her own music and dabbles in composing her songs (Her album, “I Am…” was composed entirely by her). She is known for her honest and heartfelt lyrics. However, her voice and dancing have been negatively compared to other popular Japanese artists and even her fans have labeled her voice as screechy. Despite this, she remains enormously popular in Japan and is an icon of the Japanese musical and fashion industries.

2. BoA


Boa…No Top Ten anything dealing with Jpop list could be without her. However, despite her being number 2 on this list. The major difference between her and everyone on this list is that she isn’t even Japanese. She is Korean, but this does not keep her from being incredibly popular in both countries. Heck, she’s popular all around the world! She even released an album in the US back in 2009. She covers quite a few genres, though her area of expertise is dance music, being an INSAAAANELY talented dancer. Since her debut in 2000, she has released NINE Korean albums, SEVEN Japanese albums, and the aforementioned English album. Needless to say, Boa’s pretty successful. And onto number one…

1. Utada Hikaru


Number one goes to Utada Hikaru. Making her debut in 1998 at the age of 15, Utada Hikaru, or affectionately known amongst her fans as Hikki, has been labeled a J-pop goddess. Her debut album, “First Love”, is to this day the best selling album in Oricon history. In other words, Japanese music history. Utada has had three of her Japanese studio albums in the list of the Top 10 best selling albums ever in Japan (“First Love” at number 1, her sophomore album “Distance” at 4, and her third album “Deep River”)and has had six of her albums be in the top 275 best selling albums ever in Japan. Utada has an estimated 52 million records sold worldwide.
Born in New York and raised both there and Japan, Utada is fluent in both English and Japanese. She has released 5 Japanese studio albums and 2 English studio albums and 3 compilation albums. She is particularly well known for singing the theme songs to the Kingdom Hearts series, “Hikari” (“Simple and Clean” outside of Japan) and “Passion” (“Sanctuary” outside of Japan). She writes all of her music herself (excluding her English albums) and has arranged and produced nearly all of her music. Additionally, she plays both piano and guitar.
In 2010, she announced that the following year she would go on hiatus. She released her final album till her hiatus, Utada Hikaru Singles Collection Volume 2, a compilation album that included 5 new recordings. Without a doubt, she is most certainly a J-pop goddess.