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, born Minako Kudo (工藤 美奈子 Kudō Minako, July 31, 1967 - November 6, 2005) was a Japanesemarker "idol" pop-star and musical singer. She became famous and popular as "Japan's Madonna" because of her sexy fashion and live performances in the mid to late 1980s.

As with most teenaged "idol" singers, her J-Pop career was spectacular but short. In 1989, at the advanced age of 22, she made an attempt to revive her flagging career and attain "street cred" by forming the edgy all-girl band "Minako with Wild Cats". This effort was unsuccessful, and it seemed that she would fade into obscurity.

By 1992, however, she had reinvented herself. She took formal acting and singing lessons, and became a notable theatrical singer and actress. In auditions for the Tokyomarker production of Miss Saigon, she won out over 12,000 other candidates for the part of Kim, earning the nickname "Tokyo's Miss Saigon". She also appeared in numerous other theatrical performances.

Towards the end of her life, she released several classical albums demonstrating her soprano singing voice, including religious works such as Amazing Grace and Ave Maria. She also sang the theme songs for several anime programs.

She did not abandon pop music in her adult career; indeed, she became recognized for her vocal improvement in the adult pop genre. Her song "Tsubasa" (Wings) is famous for the "long note" that she holds for 30 seconds.

Her career was cut short by leukemia. After she became ill in late 2004, she served as a celebrity spokesperson for the Live for Life Project, a campaign for the treatment of leukemia. At that time, she also changed her name to add a dot after the end of her name (本田美奈子.in kanji), thus increasing the number of strokes to 31. In Japanese "uranai" (占い) fortune-telling, a person's fate is associated with the number of strokes in the name. Following a severe misfortune, many Japanese change their name to change their fortune. As a result, albums released after 2004 show her name as "本田美奈子." in kanji and/or "Honda Minako." in romanization.

Since her death, numerous posthumous albums and videos have been released, including some previously-unreleased songs.

Early life

Minako Kudo was born in Shibamata, Katsushika, Tokyomarker (a district made famous by the Otoko Wa Tsurai Yo movie series), and was raised in Asaka, Saitama Prefecturemarker. She had one sister, Ritsuko (律子).


Kudo changed her name as she pursued a professional career in singing. Supposedly, she chose Honda because she liked Honda cars and in imitation of another popular singer, Seiko Matsuda (Matsuda is how Mazda is known in Japan).

In 1985, Honda appeared on the music scene with her debut EP Satsui No Vacance. She was known for appearing in revealing outfits and for exposing her belly (hesodashi in Japanese).

Her career discography included:
  • M' Syndrome 1985
M' / Temptation / Sanbika Wa Utaenai (I Can't Sing Hymns) / November Snow / Aperitif / Doubt / Charlie / Hard To Say "I Love You" / Mahattan No Hotaru (= The Light Of Manhattan)
  • Minako The Virgin Concert In Budokan Live 1986
  • Lips 1986
Sold Out / Ribbon Ga Hodokenai (I Can't Untie The Ribbon) / 1986Nen No Marilyn (Marilyn Of 1986) / Schedule / Joe / Bathroom Angel / Marionette No Yuutsu (Marionette Blue) / Dramatic Escape / Yokosuka Rule / Ai Ga Sugiyukumamani (= As Love Goes By)
  • Cancel 1986
Cancel / Tomaranai Railway (Non-Stop Railway) / Lovesong For Somebody / Shikashi (However) / Bond Street / 24Jikan No Hankou (=The 24-Hour Rebellion) / Roulette / Feel Like I'm Running / No Problem / Namida Wo F.O. Shite (=Fade Out The Tears)
  • Oversea 1987
Sneak Away / Playboy / Plaything / That's The Way I Want / Let's Start Again / Heart Break / You Can Do It / Take It Or Leave It / Girl Talk
  • Passenger Original Soundtrack 1987
One Shot / Passenger / Kodoku Na Hurricane (The Solitary Hurricane) and 9 other music tracks
  • Midnight Swing 1987
One Shot / Do You Remember? / Yumemigokochi (Dreams Come True) / About - Adult / Hajimeteiukedo (Although It Is Said The First Time) / Kanashimi Swing (Sadness Swing) / Konya Wa Beat Ni Noranai (I Can't Follow The Beat Tonight) / Destiny / Kodoku Na Hurricane (The Solitary Hurricane) / Eye Kodoba Wa Lonely (The Message In My Eyes Is Lonely)
  • DISPA 1987 (the short form of Disco Party) 1988
  • Wildcats 1988 (Released under the band name Minako With Wild Cats)
We Are Wild Cats / Let It Burn / Virginity / Bang Bang / Kiri No Viel (The Misty Veil) / Because You're Mine / Full Metal Armor /School Girl Blues / Kasis No Kajitsu (The Fruit Of Kasis) / Anata To Nettai (The Tropic And You)
  • The Target Of Leopard 1989
Katte Ni Sasete (=Let Me Follow My Way) / Hearts On Fire / Walk Away / Helter Skelter / Slow Walk / Ai Ga Kikoeru (The Call For Love) / Heat Me Up / Asamade (Until Dawn) / Surrender / Kill me

After her J-pop career, Honda briefly recorded anime songs, including:
  • Lullaby ~Yasashiku Dakasete~ (Lullaby - Embrace Me Gently), the ending of the Magic Knight Rayearth second series (1995).
  • Kaze No Uta (Song Of The Wind), the first Hunter × Hunter series ending theme (1999).
  • Nadja!, the Ashita No Nadja opening theme (2003).
  • Que será, será, the Ashita No Nadja ending theme (2003).

By the 1990s, Honda became a musical singer, with appearances as Kim in the Japanese production of Miss Saigon, supra. She also starred in Fiddler On The Roof, Les Miserables, and The King and I. According to Shadows and Wind: A View of Modern Vietnammarker by Robert Templer, Honda was fined and expelled from Vietnam after being photographed in the Cu Chi tunnels draped only in a Vietnamese flag.

Honda has recorded with a number of non-Japanese artists, including:
  • Brian May of Queen, who wrote, composed, played guitar for, and produced "Crazy Nights"/"Golden Days" for her.
  • Gary Moore ("The Cross")
  • [John "Sly" Wilson of Sly Slick & Wicked was in-house producer for Joe Jackson of the Jackson 5 produced the Oversea album. John Wilson wrote and produced("Heart Break" & Sneakaway). Minako recorded this song in two languages: an English recorded in Los Angeles version which was included on her English album "Oversea", and a Japanese mix which was released as a single.
  • John Deacon, the bassist for Queen, offered a number of songs to Minako which were included in the album "Cancel"


Honda became ill in late 2004, but still performed in December in spite of a fever and fatigue. When her cold-like symptoms failed to improve, she sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia on January 5 2005. Honda recovered after treatment and came home to Asaka.

Honda was able to celebrate her 38th birthday at home feeling relatively well, but had a relapse shortly afterwards. Chromosome aberration was discovered and she received a dose of anticancer medicine from the United Statesmarker to treat it. It is reported that her blood type changed to type A from type O because of a transfusion of umbilical cord blood after the detection of her illness. She recovered again briefly, but then suffered another relapse.

Honda developed lung complications on October 21, and she lapsed into a coma on November 3. At 4:38 A.M. on November 6, 2005, Honda died at the Juntendo University Hospital in Bunkyō, Tokyomarker, officially from acute myelogenous leukemia. She was 38 and unmarried at the time of her death.

"Minako Was A Little Angel," said Brian May on his web page after her death. The message can be seen in May's November 6 and November 8 contributions at WET [200445]



  1. Satsui No Vacance (殺意のバカンス Satsui No Bakansu, Vacation Of The Urge To Kill) (April 21, 1985)
  2. Suki To Iinasai (好きと言いなさい, Tell Me "I Love You") (July 20, 1985)
  3. Aoi Shumatsu (青い週末, Blue Weekend) (August 31, 1985)
  4. Temptation (September 28 1985)
  5. 1986 Nen No Marilyn (1986年のマリリン Senkyuhyakuhachijūnen No Maririn, Marilyn in 1986) (February 5, 1986)
  6. Sosotte (Seduce Me) (May 1, 1986)
  7. Help (July 23, 1986)
  8. The Cross -Ai No Jyujika- (愛の十字架, The Cross Of Love) (September 3, 1986)
  9. Oneway Generation (February 4, 1987)
  10. Crazy Nights (April 22, 1987)
  11. Golden Days (May 11, 1987) released only in UKmarker
  12. Heartbreak (1987年6月22日)
  13. Kodoku Na Hurricane (孤独なハリケーン Kodoku Na Harikēn, Lonely Hurricane) (September 9, 1987)
  14. Kanashimi Swing (悲しみSWING ) (November 25, 1987)
  15. Anata To Nettai (あなたと、熱帯, With You, Tropical) (July 6, 1988) as "Minako With Wildcats"
  16. Stand Up~Full Metal Armor (November 30, 1988) as "Minako With Wildcats"
  17. Katte Ni Sasete (勝手にさせて, Let Me Have My Own Way) (May 31, 1989) as "Minako With Wildcats"
  18. 7th Bird "Ai Ni Koi" (愛に恋 Love And Love) (October 11, 1989)
  19. Shangri-La (July 4, 1990)
  20. Tsubasa (つばさ, Wings) (May 25, 1994)
  21. Rarabai~Yasashiku Dakasete~ (ら・ら・ば・い~優しく抱かせて, Lullaby~Let Me Hold You Kindly) (May 10, 1995) (2nd ending theme of Magic Knight Rayearth)
  22. Boku No Heya De Kurasou (僕の部屋で暮らそう, Let's Live In My Room) (July 26, 1995)
  23. Fall In Love With You -Koi Ni Ochite- (恋に落ちて, Fall In Love) (November 6, 1995)
  24. Shining Eyes (July 21, 1996)
  25. Kaze No Uta (風のうた, Wind Song) (November 21, 1999) (ending theme song of Hunter × Hunter)
  26. Honey (October 21, 2000)
  27. Hoshizora (星空, Starlit Sky) (January 24, 2001)
  28. Nadja!! (ナージャ!! Nādja!!) (February 21, 2003) (theme song of Ashita No Nadja)
  29. Shinsekai (新世界, New World) (May 14, 2004)


Studio albums

  1. M'Syndrome (M'シンドロームEmu'Shindorōmu) (November 21, 1985)
  2. Lips (June 4, 1986)
  3. Oversea (June 22, 1987)
  4. Cancel (September 28, 1988)
  5. Midnight Swing (December 15, 1988)
  6. Hyōteki (豹的, Target) (July 5, 1989) as "Minako With Wildcats"
  7. Wild Cats (August 4, 1989) as "Minako With Wildcats"
  8. Junction (September 24, 1994)
  9. Hare Tokidoki Kumori (晴れ ときどき くもり, Fine, Sometimes Cloudy) (June 25, 1995)
  10. Ave Maria (May 21, 2003)
  11. Toki (時, Time) (November 25, 2004)
  12. Amazing Grace (アメイジング・グレイス Ameijingu Gureisu) (October 19, 2005)
  13. Kokoro Wo Komete... (心を込めて... Heartily) (April 20, 2006)
  14. Yasashii Sekai (優しい世界 Gentle World) (December 6, 2006)
  15. ETERNAL HARMONY (November 6, 2008)
  16. Last Concert (ラスト・コンサート) (December 10, 2008)

Live albums

  1. The Virgin Concert (ザ・ヴァージン・コンサート Za Vājin Consāto) (February 20, 1986)
  2. DISPA 1987 (January 24, 1989)


  1. The Minako Collection (December 20, 1986)
  2. Golden Best- New Best Now (June 4, 1988)
  3. Look Over My Shoulder (October 26, 1988)
  4. Stand Up- Best Beat Collection (December 12, 1988)
  5. Life -Minako Honda: Premium Best- (May 21, 2005)
  6. I Love You (March 29, 2006)
  7. Angel Voice ~Minako Honda. Memorial Best~ (April 18, 2007)
  8. Classical Best ~Ten Ni Hibiku Uta~ (April 20, 2007)

Movie Soundtracks

  1. Passenger (October 25, 1988)


  1. The Virgin Live In Budokan
  2. Dangerous Bond Street
  3. Dramatic Flash
  4. DISPA 1987
  5. Minako In L.A.
  6. Katte Ni Sasete (勝手にさせて, Let Me Have My Own Way)
  7. Tropical Holiday
  8. Tropical Holiday In Hawaii

External links

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