Knew that she wanted this album to be in memory of her mother. Felt that English wouldn’t fit, but also felt that Japanese would feel too heavy. Thought French would fit well.
The positive reaction to “Hanataba wo Kimi ni” and “Manatsu no Tooriame” had a big impact on the second half of her songwriting. Listeners caught onto her paying respects to her mother, which forced her to really make sure that the album as a whole wouldn’t be something would “paint mud on my mother’s face”
There are very few English words/phrases on the album. She used to rely on English phrases when she didn’t want to sing about things too directly. This time, she only wanted to sing beautiful Japanese lyrics.
The photographer Julien Mignot was a friend of Utada’s prior to the album shoot. Was the first time that she selected the director/artist herself.
The first track “Michi” (Road) is danceable (!) She wanted the first song to reiterate that she is doing ok.
Outside of “Michi,” she wanted the arrangements to be on the quieter side, so that her voice and words would be front and center.
The song “Ore no Kanojo” (My Gal) she considers less PG13 and more R. Very adult themed.The song includes some French words.
“Ningyo” (Mermaid) is acoustic. Was written at a point after her mother’s death where Utada wasn’t sure if she could write music again. She picked up a guitar and this song came to her. The lyrics didn’t come to her for a very long time, and was actually influenced by seeing the paper-cutout MV for “Hanataba wo Kimini”
“Kouya no Ookami” (Wolf of the Wilderness) was inspired by Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf.” It includes very noticeable breathing sounds.
She felt that “Sakura Nagashi” had to be the final track. This is the first time that she’s done the entire track ordering by herself.
The album overall was not quite self therapy, but even listening to a song like “Michi” gave herself strength. She’s never felt such a strong feeling of wanting people to hear her music. She’s planning on continuing music after this album, but she doesn’t think she’ll be able to make something like this again.