Negishi: Momochi-san, firstly, I'd like to ask about what led you to becoming an idol.
Tsugunaga: My path was via the auditions for the 'Hello! Project Kids', protegees of Morning Musume。 This was in my 5th year of primary school.
Fujimoto: I watched those.
Tsugunaga: Really? But while the auditions were my path in, I'd always been quite the idol among my relatives before that. My grandad was a really passionate Momochi fan. So I felt that it was obvious that I was bound to be an idol.
PASSPO☆: How wonderful
Anzai: An answer worth a hundred marks.
Tsugunaga: While it's not like I felt like I wanted to be an idol ever since I became aware of my surroundings......
Iwamura: But it was like, you were an idol?
Tsugunaga: I was.
Iwamura: Besides being an idol, did you not have any other dreams for the future?
Tsugunaga: When I was in kindergarten, I wrote 'I want to become Sailor Moon' on a Tanabata strip. But in the end, just like how Sailor Moon is admired by girls, being an idol is the same thing.
Negishi: When you actually did start singing and dancing for real, did you face any hardships?
Tsugunaga: I really couldn't perform well. Fifteen people passed the auditions, the oldest being in their fifth year of primary school, and the youngest was in their first. But there was a time when all of us had to rehearse in front of the mirror, and those who couldn't perform well had to stay behind.
PASSPO☆: Eh-! That's scary!!
Tsugunaga: And then, remaining at the end were a first year primary schooler, a girl in her second year, and myself in my fifth year. It was embarrassing that I couldn't perform well. I was in the upper years, yet why couldn't I pull it off?
Negishi: But, you were still in your fifth year of primary school.
Tsugunaga: But we all started at roughly the same time, so it wasn't like any of us got left behind after that. All of us did it together, we did our hardest together!
Anzai: Amazing. You were primary schoolers.
Fujimoto: Did you have lessons every day?
Tsugunaga: Almost every day. For about three hours, after school ended.
Anzai: But, it was three hours a day. Could you remember all the songs?
Tsugunaga: There were solo concerts. Every year, in summer and winter, there are concerts with the whole Hello! Project. The rehearsals throughout those concerts would have us doing dance lessons for the songs in those concerts. But when we made our debut, I was really fortunate. We passed the auditions on the 30th of June, and during the summer break, we filmed a movie. I got the lead role.
Tsugunaga: I got it despite being at a novice level. I had to memorise really long lines, which I don't think I could do now. I've been blessed with good experiences from the time I started.
Masui: I watched your concert DVDs once, and I was amazed. I thought that you were the perfect idol. It was like you were everyone's very ideal of what an idol is. Is there anything that you keep in mind when performing?
Tsugunaga: It's important to really enjoy being an idol. Present day idols really reveal what happens behind the scenes, like they're filming a documentary. Because they went through these hardships, because they scraped their way up from the bottom, they they managed to make such a wonderful debut! It's very idol-like to trace such a path. When the fans see that, they want to lend those girls their support. That's what I see as being the relationship between fans and idols. But the idol that I aspire to become is a presence that simply shines. The kind of idol that people would want to see when life or work isn't going well, when school sucks. Because I watched those sorts of idols, I've always been in H!P. So if you were to ask me to pick, I would strongly lean towards being like that.
Tamai: I see.
Negishi: While you were an idol, you were also studying at the same time. Did you ever think about taking a break for a while?
Tsugunaga: I didn't.
Mori: That's amazing. How wonderful.
Tsugunaga: What's more, I enjoyed school as well. I liked school, and I liked being an idol. There were times when school got me down, and there were of course times when work wasn't going swimmingly, but I let off my steam from them separately. With friends from school, I'd let my feelings out about the work that I dislike. And if there was something unpleasant at school, I'd get it out of my system by singing at work.
Negishi: That's good.
Anzai: Extremely well done.
Tsugunaga: My life has a really good balance, and my friends... Ah, my Otomomochi say that I'm amazing.
Negishi: You went through all that effort to correct yourself (laughs).
Tsugunaga: I'm fortunate.
Iwamura: I'm amazed by your ability to see things positively.
Tsugunaga: That's right. I probably don't worry too much. I make decisions promptly.
Tamai: When Berryz Kobo-san entered your hiatus, had you already thought about being in Country Girls?
Tsugunaga: I had. All the members had hit our twenties when we were celebrating our 10th anniversary, and we talked about entering a hiatus. I wanted to be an idol for a bit longer and discussed it with the people from the office. That's when talk about Country Girls came up.
Mori: I was amazed when I watched your MVs. Momochi-san, just your parts by themselves amazed me. You even look good when you're caught on camera, so I really think that you're really suited to be an idol.
Tsugunaga: Since I decide on what angle I prefer. I basically don't have any photos that are off either.
Tamai: Did you learn from watching your senpai?
Tsugunaga: I don't really do that, but I really like myself, so I really watch myself in the mirror. And so, I know what angles make me look cute.
Iwamura: You've always been active, but your appearance hasn't changed at all. Was there any period of time when you thought about attempting a drastic change in image?
Tsugunaga: Never. The fans supposedly prefer black hair, and there's no doubt that my stance is to constantly aim to be the image of an idol in the minds of the fans. But truth be told, it's really a pain (laughs). If I dyed my hair, I'd have to go to the hairdresser. Only just recently, I went to the hairdresser's for the first time in a year and a half. That's the level that I'm at.
Fujimoto: Don't you cut your hair!?
Tsugunaga: I don't get it cut. Since I cut my bangs by myself roughly once every three days.
Iwamura: You did those bangs!?
PASSPO☆: They're well done!
Tsugunaga: I don't dye my hair, and I don't perm it or anything either. And my nails would grow out if I got them done, right? Maintaining them is a pain. I don't really do the things that girls supposedly like doing.
PASSPO☆: That's unexpected~
Tsugunaga: Since there were lots of people who were changing around me. So there should be a girl who doesn't change, as there are merits to staying the same as well.
PASSPO☆: How wonderful!
Iwamura: PASSPO☆'s choreographer Takenaka-sensei also really likes Berryz-san.
Tsugunaga: That's right. She's asked me all sorts of things, which makes me happy.
Iwamura: We really wanted to go to the Buono! Budokan concert that was held the other day, but we had some work already lined up. From now on, will the three of you occasionally meet up, will you continue on?
Tsugunaga: I've got no idea. But thanks to everyone, the Budokan concert was extremely well received.
Anzai: I really wanted to go. It even trended on Twitter, something like 'Buono!'sTheBest'. I thought that was amazing!
Tsugunaga: If there's one in the future, please come.
PASSPO☆: We'd love to!
Negishi: We went to watch the New Year Hello! Cons together with Takenaka-sensei. And Takenaka-sensei's reason was that 'What's about to start now is a traditional performing art'.
Tsugunaga: I'm not exactly sure about that (laughs).
Negishi: But honestly, we watched it from the first floor. There was this sense of unity that couldn't be drawn out by idols like us, maybe because it was a performance that included even the audience. It was really impactful.
Negishi: Do you decide on your concert outfits by yourselves?
Tsugunaga: No, but for Country Girls as a whole, we have a 'cute' image. So from the very start, it fits with the style of clothes I like to wear. But it's like I want to hide what I've got issues about-- for example, I've got a thing about my upper arms, so I avoid wearing sleeveless tops. Or I don't bare my midriff, since I don't want my tummy to feel the chill. I inform the staff of those things. Also, between trousers and skirts, I'd go for a fluffy skirt, like a princess, for example. Having given out my opinions like that, I kind of end up always seeming the same.
Mori: I'm really amazed whenever you have outfits where you gradually shed layers off.
Tsugunaga: But it gets hot in those.
Negishi: Which reminds me, I was really interested in the volume of Buono!-san's skirts during the Yubi Matsuri. What did they put in to make those skirts so immense? A normal hoopskirt wouldn't have made it seem so wide.
Tsugunaga: Nope, it was just a normal hoopskirt. But it wasn't just a single layer, it was bulky.
Negishi: Is that so? Their size and fluffiness looked good on-stage, and they've been on my mind ever since I first saw them.
Tsugunaga: The more you expand the skirt, the slimmer your legs look, right? So that's something we're really particular about.
Iwamura: Talking about work, you often appear on variety programmes. Do you check out all the programmes that you appear on?
Tsugunaga: I do.
Mori: What was the shooting that left the biggest impression on you?
Tsugunaga: Let me see... Ah, when I went shark fishing.
Tsugunaga: Even though I'm an idol, I gave shark fishing a try (laughs). However, I didn't really catch any, there didn't seem to be any live sharks, so it wasn't like I was in mortal danger or anything though. It was a relatively aggressive on-location shoot, so it left an impression.
Mori: The way you said that was really gentle (laughs).
Anzai: Momochi, what do you do in your private time?
Mori: I'd like to know! Do you get a proper rest?
Tsugunaga: I definitely do. But I don't really go outside. I really like to keep at home, with the shade curtains drawn.
Tamai: Shade curtains?
Tsugunaga: Curtains that don't let light in, so it's pitch black in the morning. I prefer it like that.
Anzai: You're an indoor type, right? Even in your private time, you don't go to the sea or anything?
Tsugunaga: At the sea, I'll get tanned, the saltwater will be all sticky, I'll sweat...... I like going there for shootings and such, but I definitely wouldn't go in my own private time.
Anzai: So that's why your skin is so white.
Tsugunaga: I hate getting tanned. But while I hate to get sunburned, I find tanned skin really fascinating.
Tamai: As it's only us girls gathered here, I'd like to ask one question...... What's your favourite type of guy? What sort of person do you like?
Tsugunaga: I really love my own self. I think that I know my own merits best...... But it would be good if it was someone who liked me even more than I do. But I think that's a sufficiently high hurdle to overcome. While I think that there's very few who can surpass me, that kind of person would be good though.
Anzai: Momochi, will you get married?
Tsugunaga: I wonder. I really have no idea though.
Iwamura: You haven't thought about it at all.
Tsugunaga: That's right. But when I wear a wedding dress on TV programmes and the such, I do get excited.
Negishi: But the H!P senpais, take their own time and get married after graduating, don't they? Perhaps in the future, if the opportunity arises, would you like to get married?
Tsugunaga: But to get married, I'd definitely have to quit as an idol...... How does that work out? Currently, I don't really think about romance. Maybe since I'm an idol.
Negishi: It's a relief to the fans as well.
Tsugunaga: The fans really keep on telling me that they like me. That's satisfying enough for me.
Iwamura: By the way, do you have any fans of interest? Like fans that have changed.
Tsugunaga: I think that fundamentally, everyone changes (laughs). But seeing fellow Momochi fans get married, it makes me really happy. It's like I was their cupid.
PASSPO☆: That's heartwarming!
Fujimoto: Which reminds me, we worked with you once when we were doing the Hacchake-tai.
Iwamura: Sorry for back then.
Tamai: Did something happen? (laughs)
Mori: It was the orthodox Momochi-san with the Hacchake-tai. We were complete opposites. Our discussions didn't mesh well.
Tamai: Since we were like bike gang members
Mori: It was like we were always angry.
Negishi: Having watched the recent batches of idols, is there anything you'd like to say to them?
Tsugunaga: Let's see.
Anzai: Your honest feelings would be perfectly fine.
Tsugunaga: Hmm, people are really saying that we're presently in the Idol Warring States Period, with lots of idols around, charging up the idol world...... Just like now, I've had many opportunities to get in touch with lots of idols, so I really think that idol culture will continue on in the future. The boom may pass, but I'd really hate it if there were to be a break in the culture of idols. I think that it would be fine to have idols in some form or another throughout the ages, but idols in themselves are something that I'd like to continue on forever. So I'd like us to do our best together.
Mori: Well then, Momochi, for you, what does it mean to be an idol?
Tsugunaga: Being an idol is... life, right? I'm currently 24, and I've been an idol for 14 years. So I've spent more than half my life being an idol. I really am enjoying myself now, and I can't really imagine how I'd be like if I weren't an idol. I'd like to continue with it for as long as I can, and even if I were to die right now, I wouldn't have any regrets.
PASSPO☆: How cool!!
Anzai: How reassuring.
Tamai: Momochi, you're so cool!
Tsugunaga: Momochi's really cute and cool, isn't she amazing? It's a stylish way of life. I'd really be fine if I were to die tomorrow. I've got no regrets, no feelings of 'I wish I had done things this way', I enjoy every day as an idol.
Negishi: Momochi, you're so strong.
Tsugunaga: I am strong! So I'd like to keep on being an idol with confidence.
Masui: Not just being cute.
Fujimoto: I feel like raising a bronze statue to you.
Anzai: You truly are strong. I've come to like you even more. We've been doing this for seven years, but we're completely underlings.
Negishi: There's still things that we've left undone.
Anzai: I'd like you to give an idol lecture someday.
Tsugunaga: Anyway, quit drinking during concerts. That's a no-no.
PASSPO☆: Got it! (laughs)