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What is "Namie Amuro Toi et Moi V4"?

Namie Amuro Toi et Moi V4 is a huge photo gallery of Japanese popstar Namie Amuro with more than 10,000 pictures. It was launched on September 2011.


Why did you create it?

As you can guess "V4" stands for "Version 4". This gallery is the last manifestation of a long-time project. I first became a fan of Namie Amuro when I was 12, back in 1996. I then launched my first website in 1997. It was named "Namie Amuro in French". Yes, as you can read and as my outrageous English syntax and idioms confess, I'm French.

Even though it was named "Namie Amuro in French", the website was bilingual and visitors were mostly non-French. It evolved into "Toi et Moi V2" in 1999/2000 and naturally into "V3" around 2003.

One of my priorities has always been to provide a solid content, some "invariants", pages with information that you would always be able to refer to. I have never been good at keeping people daily updated with news. I am too lazy and inconstant for that. This is the reason why I have always enjoyed translating interviews, excavating old pieces of information and showing interesting connections. 

But let's admit it: even this goal is vain. Without speaking Japanese, I am not able to get the knowledge I would like about Namie and share it. Moreover people are not interested in websites that do not offer regular updates. I myself do not visit non-updated websites anymore, except when I have specific things to check.

We finally come to this gallery: I have never been that interested before in photo galleries. When I created websites I would rather show a nice and small selection rather than offering everything to see. Paradoxically between 1996 and 2008, I have kept all of Namie pictures that I have come across. This was huge. Most of them were non-classified... I finally wondered why I was keeping all of these. I did not look at them everyday anymore as I used to when I was 15.

The idea of a huge gallery is not new. If some of you were around in 2006 and knew my website, you may have seen my very last update saying that "Toi et Moi" was not dead and that it would be revived in one way or another. One day. Dude, I'm not a liar! Here it is! I did it!

I started to classify pictures a few years ago. I even started to build a gallery but everything was in HTML I was making every tiny thumbnails by myself. Oh my, after a few weeks of work I finally gave up! Recently I have discovered Piwigo and this is truly a wonderful tool to work with. It really facilitated my work and I could do everything in less than a month. Isn't it wonderful?


What was your methodology?

Yes we do have to talk about methodology as this work asked a real intellectual process. Questions were popping: how should I classify things? Where should I look to get the best classification possible? What can help me classify old pictures?

That is a shame that I have not written down all the steps: there were so many places I had to look into! If you guys really love Amuro, you may know Jpopsuki and may have seen a big file appearing this year (2011): a collection of Amuro CMs from 1994 to 2011. That was a first work (to find again all those CMs, to identify which year they were produced) that led me to very old or not well-known websites. I guess it gave me the taste to do the same with pictures.

First of all, you have to know that I had never cared before about what magazine each picture was from. It was even worse: I used to always rename pictures more or less randomly with numbers. What a mess to find again which pictures belong to which magazine... Fortunately a few things remained unrenamed and gave me some clues. I must also add that during a hard drive crash a few years ago, some pictures of the 1996-2001 era were lost.

One website definitely helped in my quest and I am really indebted to it: this is Namie-fans.net. Please visit it. This is not only a very nice designed website, full of information, always updated but also a huge gallery with a very good degree of classification. I must admit that there are even some details that I did not dare adding myself. I am not pretending to replace this gallery with Toi et Moi V4. Namie-fans is always updated with new and old pics so you should continue to visit it. I am pretty sure that things will take more time to arrive here. Huge thanks to this very nice gallery which helped classify many of my pics and get higher quality pictures of what I already had.

As I mentionned earlier, I stopped collecting pics in 2008. Along with Namie-fans, excellent websites such as Namie News Network helped me recover everything I had missed.

Others such as Namie Style or even Namie Amuro & Supermonkey's (Gosh, this website was already here back in 1996 and it is still updated!! Can you believe it?) provided me with good information that helped me with the TV/Live and Events sections.

I have digged into very old websites such as Jill's Amuro page, I have done some Google search with date limitations and the weirdest keywords. I have also failed to find again some Geocities website on Reocities. Others were archived fortunately.

My biggest work (and it still continues) and my hugest source was Yahoo! Japan Auctions. You can't imagine how many treasures you can find there. I have regularly been there for a few years and have ALWAYS managed to find a picture of Namie that I did not already own (how many times was this girl taken in photo? i ask you). I saved them but never recorded where they were coming from.

Now I try to link magazines and pictures together. When I see a tiny pic/thumbnails I try to connect it with a set of similar photos that I have. This work has never been done for the pictures dating from 1995 to1997 and I am quite proud of what I have already done.

Of course there may be mistakes. I guess there are already a lot of mistakes... Websites and classifications that have already been done are sometimes full of mistakes. I have managed to find quite a few on Namie-fans and I am certain that I am creating new ones. 

BUT there is one thing you need to know: some mistakes were created on purpose. I have found it more convenient (when I did not have more information) to put together all the pictures coming from a same photoshoot. You also have to know that in the 90's it seems like that similar pictures (or pictures coming from a same photoshoot) were used by different magazines... It did not make the task easy for me.

No need to mention that I have checked other Japanese auction sites, booksellers etc. It also contributed to the building of the gallery.


Are you nuts?

This is the question you now wonder if you have managed to read (even diagonally) this all. I think I am. Quite a bit. I love databases and I love classifications. What you have to know is that I am a scholar and that I am as every Ph.D depressed. I am fed up with my thesis and I am under the impression that it will never be finished.

That is the reason why, I guess, I had to start AND finish a whole project. I knew this visual corpus very well, I knew where to look, i knew it was "closed". I mean I can always find new pictures (old ones and of course new ones) but the classification is here, everything can be entered into a drawer. I know that 10,000 new pictures will not appear out of nowhere during the night and that there will never be a whole bloody thing "I had never though about". Let's say my madness is a therapy. And as I said before, I definitely had to do something with those pictures that invaded anarchically my Hard Drive.


Why did you distinguish Events/Live/TV ? There are some pictures of the same event scattered in those 3 categories!

This was really a personal choice. I could have only created an "Event/TV Appearances" category as many other galleries have done. It would have been a huge category and did not really appeal to me. I really wanted to have in the "Live" category pictures of Namie performing and nothing with her talking or just standing on the Red carpet. All the non-performing pictures (except for concerts) will be found in Events (Awards/Kouhaku/MTV live) or TV (just TV shows).


What if I don't like classifications and I just want to see all the pictures without clicking everywhere?

No problem bro'. I sometimes thought the same. It could be painful to click a thousand times to see every directory. And this is when you discover how wonderful Piwigo is. Can you see these four squares on the right-top corner? It reads "Display all photos in all sub-albums". So now you can see everything from the root or from any directory without the subclassifications.


There are doubles in your pictures!

I know. Do you know that a book is considered well-corrected when it shows less than 7 errors? How on Earth could I eradicate all the doubles within 10,000 pictures? 

Actually there are 3 scenarios possible: 

1- This is not a double but a choice. Sometimes I could not decide between 2 versions of the same picture. One could be bigger in size but the smaller one could have retained more details... One could be bigger but with an annoying watermark, the other is smaller but free of everything.

2- If you see the same picture in 2 different categories, it is normal. I sometimes have linked them to several categories. When I was too lazy I just reuploaded the same picture to another category.

3- This is a real and evil double and you may advise me of it by leaving a commentary and details.


How can I help you?

If you have rare pictures or just pictures that I do not own (or nicer quality pictures), I would be happy to have them. I would be quite happy to have the scans of a photobook called "Amuro Namie 1995" and the booklet of "The Exhibition of Namie Amuro".

You could also leave in commentaries ideas of tags (celebrities that I did not identify for example) or help of classification (ex: this picture does not belong to this magazine but to... this picture is not from this year but... If you have proofs it would be even better)


Why didn't you upload screencaptures?

I used to save and collect screencaptures when videos were really hard to find and a pain to download. Now that we have Youtube, forums and torrents trackers, I find it pointless. And it would be too huge too. 


What are TAGS?

I just LOVE tags! At first, I did not want to use Piwigo and started with a messier gallery and no tags. Tags are just here for fun. You can see them all in the "tags" category and just choose. There are years (keep in mind that many pictures do not have this tag, you will not see everything), magazines and random things. Namie Amuro was for example chosen as the best hat wearer several years in a row. Right! There is a "hat" tag. There are also seasonal tags like "Summer" or "Winter", fashion tag like "Ethnic" or "Army"... A tag for glasses, even a tag for pictures with her unbearable dogs. A tag for France or Jamaica! Just go and see, there are funny things.

Tags are also useful when you want to find something in particular. You can even add tags between them, Try it.


You have pictures that belong to my website.

Oh Dear, what about freedom on the Internet, freedom of sharing? If the picture was taken by you (let's say during a concert), I am totally okay to remove it but if you have just scanned it, you do not own the picture. Just do like everybody: watermark.

I myself did it on the Chinese photobook that I have wholly scanned during 4 hours (half of the pages are now even detached, see the sacrifice). BUT as I have always hated big naughty watermarks that eat half of Namie's small face, my watermarks remain quiet. If you want to publish my scans on your website, do it but do not remove the watermark. If you want to use the picture for a design, a wallpaper or whatever, you can cut out the picture without any problem.

There is one good and bad thing about watermarks. Of course you destroy pictures and claim "I AM THE ONE WHO SCANNED IT!! DON'T STEAL!!!". Baaaad~ And the reason why I will not remove your picture is because your website will finally disappear. Oh yes it will, except if you are Namie Amuro & Super Monkey's (which has NO pictures at all! is this the reason why?). And it would quite a shame to not share all your pictures because of that. The other thing you have to know is that Internet is Internet and that your pictures will always leave your website, be posted on forums and blogs. That is unstoppable so live with it.

So now you have watermarked your scans. What's the good point? I have just discovered it: the memory of the Internet. Seeing all these pictures I was amazed to be brought back to old souvenirs. There were truly great websites about Namie and watermarks extend their memory in time. Maybe you got to know them: Amuro Korea, Amuro Focus, Amuro Hana, Amuro Concept, Amuro Webcity, Takeshi's fanpage, Love NA Peace, AMX... I am forgetting some of them but you will still find them on watermarks. I tried to check if they were still alive or even revived but everything is gone. So thanks to everyone who took time to provide pictures.


Who the hell are you?

I am just a fan who has enjoyed Namie's music for a long time. She is among the only entertainment artists that I listen to (let's say I am more into experimental & electronic music) and I still admire her for her personnality, her story, what she went through and how she struggled both in her personal and professional life. She was and she is now again a very interesting society phenomenon too. She is a fashion icon that generated "Amuraas" which evolved into Kogarus and Ganguros. She also made Okinawa popular to the rest of Japan (let us recall that Okinawa is often not truly considered as Japan in Japan itself and that ethnically speaking, Okinawaians are closer to Taiwanese - Okinawa also has its own language which belongs to the Japonic group but which is, according to many linguists, too different to be considered as a dialect. The new generation do not speak it anymore unfortunately).

My nick on the Internet has always been "Mina". Maybe you have already chatted with me in another life. As a admin here, I'm "Pampril".





Past sites:

V1 : 1997 - 2000


V2 : 2000 - 2003


V3 : 2003 - 2006


V4 : 2011 -