I feel like this news was very under the radar!

Utada Hikaru made her musical comeback on April 15th with two singles and a new project entitled NEW-TURN, a project that focuses on raising money to plant Sakura trees in the areas the major 2011 Japanese earthquake affected (more on that below). Utada’s return seemed to generate barely any buzz outside of Japan which is disappointing, although it could just be me seeing as I’ve been extremely busy lately and haven’t had much time to keep up on updates and gossip. But still…

The two singles are Hanataba o Kimi ni (A Bouquet For You), theme song to drama Toto Neechan, and Manatsu no Tōriame (Midsummer Shower), the theme to  NTV’s news show NEWS ZERO. Sadly the music videos for both are not available in the U.S. yet, so there’s that, BUT the digital singles ARE available on U.S. iTunes (Here and Here)! Both have continued to chart well in Japan over the weeks so it looks like Hikki’s off to a great comeback. Her new album is reportedly almost done and looking at a post-Summer release! YAYY!!!!!

Manatsu no Tooriame is a song with very pained, heartbroken lyrics regarding, potentially, Utada’s mother. You can read the translation for it here. Accepting a wound that will never heal has to be one of the hardest things one can do. Thoughts and prayers continually go out to Utada.

Hanataba o Kimi ni tells a melancholy love story, with its translation right here. Both of these singles are totally in Utada fashion and I’m absolutely delighted to have her back. To be honest I thought her return would be too much of an emotional impact for me, but both songs are a gentle reentering into Japanese music that sits well with the soul and eases me back in.

Welcome back, Hikki! Love you!

p.s. Utada Hikaru produced and arranged the songs, too!

UPDATE: The videos are restricted on dailymotion so I can’t embed them here, but to watch the full PV to Manatsu no Tooriame click Here. Hanataba o Kimi ni only has a 33 second clip that can be found online, and that’s Here. Manatsu no Tooriame’s visual is breathtaking, totally befitting of the song.

NEW-TURN Project launches to celebrate Utada Hikaru’s comeback as an artist!
This project brings together Utada Hikaru’s record label, fans, and others who have long waited for Utada’s return, in order to celebrate her comeback as an artist.
By tweeting using the hashtag “#おかえりHIKKI”, or purchasing or downloading Utada products, the flowers of the sakura (cherry blossom) trees on the project’s website will gradually bloom. Through this project, the record label and fans will give momentum leading up to Utada’s return, with the goal of having the flowers in full bloom by April 4. We look forward to your cooperation.
A portion of the proceeds from this project will be donated to the NPO Sakura Namiki Network to deliver sakura trees to the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
DAIICHIKOSHO CO., LTD., the video streaming service GYAO!, and USEN CORPORATION support the purpose of this project, and will respectively make donations for the same purpose-GYAO! based on the number of plays of its featured Utada Hikaru videos, and USEN based on the requests made in connection with Utada Hikaru’s music.
DAIICHIKOSHO will set up a special web page. Based on the frequency at which Utada’s songs are sung, the flowers of the sakura trees on this web page will gradually bloom.
●NEW-TURN PROJECT website: http://utadahikaru.jp/sakura/
●GYAO! Utada Hikaru’s NEW-TURN PROJECT page: http://gyao.yahoo.co.jp/p/00101/v12282/
●USEN Music Broadcast’s official website: http://music.usen.com/
●NPO Sakura Namiki Network: http://sakuranamiki.jpn.org/cherry_project