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The top music artists in Japan include Japanese artists with claims of 15 million or more record sales or with over 2 million subscribers. Japan is the largest physical music market in the world and the second largest overall behind the United States, and the biggest in Asia, according to International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.[1][2]

Sources that provide the sales an artist or record company claim via press release, rather than certified or reported by reliable third parties such as Oricon, are denoted by a "†".

Oricon Charts

Oricon provides accumulated physical sales of all entries on its singles and albums charts (started in 1968 and 1970, respectively).[3] Note that Oricon does not count sales of the records that did not enter or fell off of the charts, unlike Nielsen SoundScan. Therefore, it generally shows fewer numbers than reported sales via record labels, and may not reflect the real sales obtained by these artists. In addition, it excludes recording artists like Michiya Mihashi,[4] Hibari Misora, Yujiro Ishihara, and Hachiro Kasuga who had garnered most of commercial success before Oricon was established in the late 1960s. The reported numbers like Mihashi's 100 million and Misora's 68 million records,[5][6] are highly doubtful and cannot be confirmed by Oricon and RIAJ.

The best-selling artist according to Oricon are B'z (more than 86 million), who is also the best-selling artist by a number of albums sold (46.5 million).[7] The best-selling artists by number of singles sold are AKB48 (50.8 million),[8] B'z (35.8 million) in second place,[9] Mr. Children (28.45 million) in third place,[10] and Southern All Stars (25.179 million) in fourth place.[11] Ayumi Hamasaki holds the record for being the best-selling solo artist and being the only solo artist to sell more than 50 million in total.[12]

The list excludes sales of albums or singles recorded by artists in collaboration with others as part of a singular artist or group's total.

Artists by sales

50 million or more records

Artist Years active Genre Sales
B'z 1988–present Hard rock / Pop rock / Blues rock 86.25 million[13]
Ayumi Hamasaki 1998–present Pop / Dance / Electronic / Rock 64.50 million[13]
AKB48 2005–present J-pop / Electropop / Dance-pop 60.05 million[13]
Mr. Children 1989–1997, 1998–present Pop rock / Power pop / Progressive pop 60.01 million[13]

30 million to 49 million records

Artist Years active Genre Sales
Dreams Come True 1988–present J-pop / R&B / New wave / City pop 44.94 million[13]
Yumi Matsutoya[note 1] 1968–present Pop rock / Jazz fusion / Folk rock / Kayōkyoku 39.39 million[14][15]
GLAY 1988–present Pop rock / Power pop / Progressive rock 38.80 million[13]
Arashi 1999–2020 (Hiatus) Pop / rock / R&B 38.44 million[13]
ZARD 1991–2007 Pop rock / R&B / Soft rock / AOR 37.63 million[13]
Southern All Stars 1975–present Soft rock / Pop rock / Folk rock / Blues rock 37.61 million[14]
Hikaru Utada 1998–2010, 2016–present J-pop / R&B / Dance / Electronica 37.34 million[13]
SMAP 1991–2016 J-pop / R&B 37.20 million[14]
Namie Amuro 1992–2018 Pop / R&B / Hip hop / EDM / Eurobeat 36.18 million[16]
CHAGE and ASKA 1979–1996, 1999–2009 Folk rock / Soft rock 31 million[17]
X Japan 1982–1997, 2007–present Heavy metal 30 million†[18]
Seiko Matsuda 1980–present Pop / Kayōkyoku 30 million†[19]

20 million to 29 million records

Artist Years active Genre Sales
L'Arc-en-Ciel 1991–present Alternative rock / Pop rock / Post-punk 29.27 million[20]
Globe 1995–2018 Synthpop / Eurobeat / Trance 28.94 million[20]
KinKi Kids 1997–present Pop 28.38 million[20]
Koda Kumi 2000–present J-pop / pop / R&B 27.5 million [21]
Akina Nakamori 1982–present Pop / Kayōkyoku 25.34 million[22]
Tube 1985–present Power pop / Surf rock / Blues rock 24.55 million
Masaharu Fukuyama 1990–present Pop / Rock 24.10 million[23]
Exile 2001–present J-pop / R&B / Dance / House 23.44 million[20]
Every Little Thing 1996–present Pop rock / Soft rock / Synthpop 22.72 million[20]
Maki Ohguro 1989–present Pop / Dance-pop / New Wave 22.67 million[20]
Morning Musume 1997–present J-pop / Electropop / Dance-pop 22.47 million
Miyuki Nakajima 1975–present Kayōkyoku / Folk / Rock / Enka 21.96 million
TRF 1993–present J-pop / Hi-NRG / Rave / Techno 21.71 million[24]
Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi 1977–present Rock / Folk 21.64 million[23]
Noriyuki Makihara 1990–present Pop 21 million[23]
Spitz 1987–present Alternative rock / Pop rock 20.68 million[25]
Speed 1996–2000, 2008–2012 Pop / Dance / R&B / Hip hop 20 million†[26]
Misia 1998–present R&B / Pop / Soul / Dance 20 million†[27]

10 million to 19 million records

Artist Years active Genre Sales
Hiroshi Itsuki 1965–present Enka / Pop 19.24 million[28]
Kome Kome Club 1982–1997, 2006–present Pop rock / Psychedelic soul / Funk rock / Rakugo 18.66 million
Pink Lady 1976–1981,
1996–1997,
2003–2005,
2010–2017
Pop / Kayōkyoku / Disco 17 million[29]
Kanjani8 2004–present Pop / Rock / Enka / Kayōkyoku 17.00 million[30]
Toshinobu Kubota 1981–present R&B / Pop / Soul / Neo soul 16.33 million
Kyosuke Himuro 1978–2016 Rock / Pop 16.25 million
Momoe Yamaguchi 1973–1980 Pop / Kayōkyoku 16.22 million[22]
Dragon Ash 1996–Present Rap rock / Alternative rock 16 million
Mariya Takeuchi 1978–Present Pop / Funk / Soul / Disco 16 million
Yōsui Inoue 1969–present Rock / Folk 15.809 million
Hiromi Gō 1972–present Pop / Kayōkyoku / R&B 15.78 million[22]
Kenji Sawada 1969–present Pop / Rock 15.71 million[20]
Mai Kuraki 1999–present Pop / R&B 15.5 million
The Checkers 1981–1992 Rock 'n' roll / Rockabilly / Pop rock / Doo-wop 15.38 million[20]
Miki Imai 1986–present Pop 15.31 million
Judy and Mary 1992–2001 Pop rock / Art punk / Alternative rock 15 million
Puffy AmiYumi 1995–present Dance rock / Pop rock / Pop punk / Power pop 15 million
Shizuka Kudo 1987–Present Pop / Kayōkyoku 15 million[31]
Miho Nakayama 1985–present Pop / Kayōkyoku 14.97 million[22]
Nogizaka46 2011–present Pop 14.60 million[30]
Mariah Carey 1988–present Pop / Soul / R&B / Dance 14.5 million[30]
Kyōko Koizumi 1982–present Pop 14.26 million[22]
Shinichi Mori 1966–present Enka / Kayōkyoku 14.10 million[32]
Hideki Saijo 1972–2018 Pop 13.30 million[33]
Tomoyasu Hotei 1988–present Rock 12.71 million[34]
Misato Watanabe 1985–present Pop / Funk / Rock 12.70 million[22]
Toshihiko Tahara 1980–present Pop 12.70 million[22]
Masahiko Kondo 1980–present Pop / Kayōkyoku 12.67 million[22]
Hikaru Genji 1987–1996 Pop 12.22 million[22]
Tomomi Kahara 1995–2006, 2013–present Pop / Adult contemporary / Pop rock / Dance-pop 12.19 million[22]
V6 1995–2021 Pop / Rock 12.12 million[22]
Sandaime J Soul Brothers 2010–present J-Pop / Dance / R&B 11.15 million†[35][36]
Orange Range 2001–present Rap rock / Alternative rock / Pop rock / Power pop 11 million
Princess Princess 1983–1996 J-pop / J-rock / Glam Rock 11 million[37]
The Alfee 1974–present Pop rock / Hard rock / Punk rock 10+ million
Luna Sea 1989–2000, 2010–present Progressive rock / Alternative rock / Hard rock / Punk rock 10+ million†
Chemistry 2001–present J-pop / R&B 10 million
MAX 1995–present J-pop 10 million
Shiina Ringo 1998–present J-pop / J-rock 10 million
KAT-TUN 2006–present J-pop 10 million
aiko 1998–present J-pop 10 million
Hiromi Iwasaki 1975–present Pop / Kayōkyoku 10 million[37]

5 million to 9 million records

Artist Years active Genre Sales
Goro Noguchi 1971–present Kayōkyoku / Pop 9.50 million[22]
Ami Suzuki 1998–2001, 2004–present Pop / Dance-pop / EDM / Electro house 8.83 million[22]
Hitomi 1992–present Rock / Pop / Electronic 8.70 million
TOKIO 1994–present Power pop / Pop rock 8.19 million[22]
SKE48 2008–present Pop 8.15 million[30]
KAT-TUN 1994–present Pop / Rock 8.05 million[30]
TVXQ 2003–present Pop / Dance / R&B / Electronic / Rock 7.80 million†[38]
BoA 2000–present K-pop / J-pop / Dance-pop / R&B 7.75 million[30]
Ketsumeishi 1993–present Hip hop / Reggae / R&B 7.60 million
Wink 1988–1996 Pop 7.49 million[22]
NMB48 2011–present Pop 7.35 million[30]
Celine Dion 1981–present Pop / Rock 7.150 million[39][40][41]
DA PUMP 1996–present J-Pop / EDM / Eurodance / Hip hop 7 million
Ai Otsuka 2003–present Pop 6.60 million
Naoko Kawai 1980–1996 Kayōkyoku 6.53 million[22]
Madonna 1979–present Pop / dance / electronica 6.450 million[39][42]
Avril Lavigne 1999–present Pop/Punk 6.4 million[39][41]
Perfume 2000–present Pop, Techno, Bitpop, Electropop, Dance-pop, Synthpop 6 million
Mari Amachi 1971–1977, 1979–present Kayōkyoku 5.96 million[22]
Hiroko Yakushimaru 1978–present Kayōkyoku 5.85 million[22]
Gackt 1993–present Rock 5.70 million
Yoko Minamino 1984–present Pop 5.63 million[22]
Shonentai 1985–present Pop 5.48 million[22]
Candies 1973–1978 Pop / Folk pop 5.45 million[22]
Shibugakitai 1982–1988 Pop 5.43 million[22]
Backstreet Boys 1993–present Pop / Dance-pop 5.4 million[39]
Lady Gaga 2008–present Pop 5.40 million[43][44]
Yōko Oginome 1983–present Kayōkyoku 5.38 million[22]
Crystal Kay 1999–present Pop, R&B 5.2 million
Def Tech 2002–2007, 2010–present Jawaiian Reggae 5 million
Rip Slyme 1994–present Hip hop 5 million
Yui 2004–present Pop / Rock 5 million

Best-selling Western acts

See also: Big in Japan (phrase)

See also: List of best-selling singles by Western acts in Japan

The long-standing second world's biggest music market have seen record sales dominated by their local music acts.[45]

A selected group of Western acts have achieved certified units of over 4 million since Japan's music certification system inception by RIAJ in 1989. Various of them debuted before that tracking system, selling millions of their catalogue along with thousand of copies for individual titles alone; ranging from Madonna to Michael Jackson according to Oricon's chart book figures.[46] By other estimates, Western acts like the 1970s band, The Nolans have claimed sales of 12 million in the country during their height of career,[47] while according to Jeff Rovin in Julio! (1985) many of Julio Iglesias' albums sold over two million copies in the country.[48]

Highest certified Western artists by RIAJ (1989–present)
Artist Certified sales
(in millions)
Refs.
Mariah Carey 14.5 million [39][42][49]
Celine Dion* 7.150 million [39][40][41]
Madonna 6.450 million [39][42]
Avril Lavigne 6.4 million [39][41]
Backstreet Boys 5.4 million [39]
Lady Gaga 5.4 million [39][42]
The Beatles 4.950 million [39]
Michael Jackson 4.650 million [39][42]
Enya 4.6 million [39]
Bon Jovi 4.4 million [39][42]
Whitney Houston 4.3 million [39][50]
Indicates a debutant artist prior RIAJ's certification program (e. 1989)

Note: *Dion's "international" debut is considered to be dated in 1990, with her first English-recording album. It is the decade when she also entered the Japanese charts.

Best-selling artist sales by year

Year Artist Album Sales Single Sales Total Sales
1999 Hikaru Utada 7,365,830 5,383,770 12,749,600
2000 Ayumi Hamasaki 5,267,350 3,914,920 9,182,270
2001 Ayumi Hamasaki 5,311,950 5,067,910 10,379,860
2002 Hikaru Utada 3,526,780 2,410,990 5,667,770
2003 Ayumi Hamasaki 2,774,474 1,056,148 3,830,622
2004 Hikaru Utada 3,537,845 365,206 3,903,051
2005 Orange Range 3,479,539 2,242,257 5,721,796
2006 Koda Kumi 2,411,470 1,281,022 3,692,492
2007 Koda Kumi 1,318,072 534,035 1,852,107
2008 Exile 4,363,967 678,458 5,042,425
2009 Arashi 1,432,781 2,213,423 3,646,204
2010 Arashi 1,395,807 3,778,313 5,174,120
2011 AKB48 829,645 6,871,281 7,700,926
2012 AKB48 1,029,954 6,954,599 7,984,553
2013 AKB48 - 5,961,213 5,961,213
2014 AKB48 1,041,355 6,241,987 7,283,342
2015 AKB48 1,468,279 5,062,100 6,530,379
2016 AKB48 - 5,413,328 5,413,328
2017 AKB48 632,615 4,715,415 5,348,030
2018 AKB48 611,056 5,677,095 6,288,151
2019 Arashi 2,100,438 709,813 2,810,251
2020 Arashi 822,459 1,147,865 1,970,324

Notes

  1. ^ Includes releases under her maiden name, Yumi Arai.

See also

References

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Further reading