Thursday, 9 June 2016

Bimajin Special Interview Vol.7 Arai Hitomi & Shoji Mei from Tokyo Girls' Style 【Work edition】

Appearing in this month's Bimajin Special Interview, we have Arai Hitomi-san and Shoji Mei-san from the avex-linked 4 person dance & vocal group 'Tokyo Girls' Style'! With their powerful and cute live performances, these girls are currently at the centre of attention, highly regarded not only domestically but overseas as well ♡ In this first 'Work edition', they talk about their Taiwan (Taipei) live performance and what they want to challenge most at the moment ♪

● You had a concert by yourselves on the 14th of May at Taiwan (Taipei), a place which also has deep links to bimajin. How was it?
Arai:It was our first individual performance in Taiwan, but this was actually our 7th time there due to work! Amongst the jobs overseas we've received, Taiwan's the place that's given us the most work. Every time we go to Taiwan, the fans would greet us at the airport. It truly is a wonderful country.
Shoji: Something that left a huge impression on me was the large number of girls. There were lots of girls of our age! They'd made boards and uchiwa fans for the concert, and let us see what they'd made... Seeing them welcome us warmly from the very beginning of the concert reminded me again about the kindness of the people of Taiwan~.
Arai:As this was our first individual concert, we tried singing 'Partition Love' in Chinese, and we also tried to do all the MC segments in Chinese! We'd try to ask them if they were having fun in the middle of songs, and we tried to talk a bit about how we had hot pot and how much we'd like to eat it again... And of course, we also used Chinese to tell them that we'd like to go to Taiwan again. We received happiness from the people who had come for the show, it was a really fun concert. These Taiwan and Hong Kong concerts came from a plan on our Showroom programme: if we spent a year studying the language and passed a test, we would be able to hold concerts at Taiwan and Hong Kong. It was a really good experience.
Shoji:I was deeply moved at the encore! The fans sang our debut song 'Kirari', you could even hear it in the backyard. It made us really happy that they sang that song for the encore call. What's more, the fans had made their own lyric cards, and all the fans that came to the venue held those cards, where there was a surprise for us. Written on the opposite side of the lyric cards was 'Okaeri', 'Welcome back' in Japanese... It really pumped us up, as we wanted to live up to everyone's expectations. And I also really remember them thanking us and asking us to come again in Japanese at the handshakes.
● Just listening to you talk, I can already imagine how pumped up the Taiwan concert was!
Arai:There were really a lot of people who were holding up the boards facing the stage. Even though we were trying hard to do MC corners in Chinese, if we slipped up with our intonation, they'd tell us 'It's like this'. It unconsciously turned out to be a lesson in intonation.
Shoji:The passion and excitement of the venue was amazing. Clapping our hands led to rising cheers, and that energy made us grow excited, we had fun together!

●  Besides the concert, did you fully enjoy Taiwan?
Arai:All of the Joshiryu members are foodies. We had hot pot, and we had meat at the night market. I was really looking forward to the shaved ice that we have every time, but sadly, we didn't have the time, so I just focused on the meat. But we got the tapioca milk tea '50 Lan' this time around, which is a must-drink every time we're there. The sweetness in Japan's tapioca milk teas are fixed, but you can pick your preferred sweetness in Taiwan. The word 'healthy' was written on the 'sugarless' option, and I went sugarless when I saw that (laughs). Last time we were in Taiwan, we also went to 'Ice Monster', but since the flavour I wanted had sold out, I'd like to go there again next time.
Arai:I was looking forward to eating mango shaved ice, but it's a pity that I wasn't able to...! It's always really packed, and it's so popular that you sometimes have to line up.
Arai:Tokyo Girls' Style have often gone shopping for clothes and food sampling at Ximending, and since they have my favourite 'Cold Stone', I'd like to eat there again. The seasonal flavours that are only available in Taiwan were delicious 
Shoji:I visited Jiufen the last time I came to Taiwan, and I'd like to go to there again. I went up the hill, where there's a tea shop at the peak, and the tea there was really delicious! It was a spot where you could survey the scenery of Taiwan's lined-up shops, and the tea from the store was so delicious, like nothing I'd ever tasted before...! There were many varieties, and they made it by pouring it out traditionally. The storekeeper made the tea for us at first, but it was still tasty when I poured it out by myself a lot later. The tea had such an impact on me that it made me think that maybe I should start a tea store in the future!
● Please tell us about what work you'd like to do in the future and if there are any things that you'd like to challenge. 
Arai:I'd like to appear on programmes overseas. We'd like lots more people to know about Tokyo Girls' Style through our music. Asia, Europe, the viewpoint differs depending on country... Recently, we've been proactively studying English, and I've been going to English lessons with Meitin (Shoji). Our studies are focused on grammar and speaking, and it's also useful in school studies.
Shoji:After having experienced doing concerts on our own at Taiwan and Hong Kong, I thought once again that I'd like to have us go on a world tour. We're getting increasingly more comments from various countries on Twitter and Instagram. Singapore, Indonesia, France... It makes me happy that they send us messages in Japanese, and I wonder how they learnt about Tokyo Girls' Style. I'd like to have a concert in France, where they're enthusiastic about Japanese culture!
Arai:Personally, I'd like to try out modelling work! When I was small, I did model work locally, and so I originally entered the world of entertainment with hopes of becoming a model. I really had fun when I got to participate as a model on the runway at last year's and this year's Girls Award. In the future, I'd like to try out even more work as a model.
Shoji:The other day, I tried acting in a play for the first time! It gave me motivation like I've never got before, and it was a great learning experience, so I think that I'd like to try it again. I feel like it's stripped off a 'layer' within me... I reinvented myself, perhaps because I got rid of the part of me that's shy. I'd like to become an expressive performer, with my stage-acting experience having been the trigger.

Shoji Mei-san and Arai Hitomi-san talked about their successful concert and places they visited at Taiwan in between jobs.  Please look forward to next week as well!

The 'lyric card' (i.e. piece of paper) they were talking about, with 'Welcome back' in Japanese on one side and the lyrics to Kirari on the other


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