For years, all I really knew about Ruriko were the two times Ive seen her on the Kouhaku [and the numerous times Ive replayed the videotapes since then! ]. At that time, I didnt even know her name [being unable to read kanji and all....]. But from one year to the next, she made such an impression on me that I found her unforgettable. [And many thanks to Mike, Wayne and Yoshinobu for their valiant efforts in expanding my Ruriko-experience in 1996!]
Since Im utterly unconversant with the language, Im forced to appreciate Japanese pop music for reasons other than its content: I consider the pure sound, the presentation, etc. And in these respects, Ruriko has always pushed my buttons far more than any of her contemporaries.
Many of the Japanese performers Ive seen are marked by a musical stiffness and over-cleaned, general artificiality: vacantly attractive young vocalists correctly but absently singing generically sweet songs that appear to mean absolutely nothing to them. By contrast, Ruriko sports a voice whose rough assertiveness and distinctiveness cause her to stand out like a beacon in the already-brightly-lit Kouhaku. Her timing and movements are rhythmically fluid, her smiles are not forced or relentless, her personal involvement in her material comes across as palpable and genuine. All this, her sheer reality in the midst of so much plastic, makes her far more appealing to me personally than any of the more magazine-pretty droids who outdo her in popularity but not in talent: shes the only one that I actually wish I knew....
So Ive built this Mini-Shrine in honour of Ms. Kuboh and the warm, innocent-fun infatuation she inspires in me every time I watch her sing Hayaku shiteyo or listen to those gently intimate ballads on her CDs...
[Plus, in all honesty, I get a kick out of the incongruity of setting this up here in the middle of nowhere, as it were: the fact that she can inspire this kind of obscure fanhood on the other side of the world is really kinda cool, yknow? I wonder if shell ever know that my Mini-Shrine and I are here?...]