Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Momochi no Kimochi: Nickname (Essay #11/22)

From way back, I've always been given nicknames that are close to 'Momoko', such as 'Momo-chan' or 'Momoko-chan'. Maybe it's because my family name 'Tsugunaga' is difficult to read. Which reminds me, in the past, Yaguchi Mari-san gave me the nickname Maru-chan, from Momoko→Sakura MomokoMaru-chan. It was an extremely reckless situation in the middle of an interview, so that nickname was given in desperation. It didn't sink in at all after that, it hasn't even seen any use. [laughs]

'Maru-chan' was still cute though. Of the nicknames I've been given so far, the nickname I hated the most was 'Momotaro'. When I was in kindergarten, there was this really persistent boy who would call me that, I hated it so much that I felt like taking a break from school. Every day, he would ask 'Oi Momotaro, gimme a kibi dango', just like the legend. As I am now, I would probably come back with a 'Are you a pheasant!?', also in reference to the legend. But I was a shy girl at the time, so I couldn't say anything at all ♥ But that boy liked me. Which reminds me, in kindergarten, there apparently were two other boys who proposed to me (according to Mama). That was my period of MAX popularity ☆

Tsugunaga Momoko Photo Essay "Momochi no Kimochi" / Momoko Tsugunaga
Momoko Tsugunaga

Monday, 30 January 2017

Hoshibe Sho's Liner Notes on Good Boy Bad Girl

After about a year since 'Boogie Woogie Love', I got to write a song for Country Girls.
The A-melody has a back-and-forth melody accompanied by rock 'n roll guitar riffs.
The B-melody approaches the chorus with bluesy 7th chords.
And that develops into a minor key chorus, in the style of 70s and 80s rock ballads.
Using this old-fashioned melody, Kodama Ameko-san showed her skills and gave it the theme of a comical, immature lover's quarrel.
The phrase 'While he knows his guitar chords, he can't come up with lyrics' in the second chorus, it really struck a deep nerve in the heart of this former guitar-playing youth. (laughs)

Speaking of 'cool', I actually have experienced it watching Country Girls perform live.
Even though they have cute songs like 'Itooshikutte Gomen ne'!? They present themselves cutely, yet I feel that as professionals, they are cool.
I learnt a lesson: When you get down to it, cuteness can turn into coolness.
Country Girls is an exceedingly interesting group, a synthesis of 'cute' and 'cool'.

I hope that this song will become a spice that will support Country Girls' cuteness.

Hoshibe Sho

Good Boy Bad Girl / Peanuts Butter Jelly Love / Country Girls

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Digging into the '8 mysteries' of Kobushi Factory (Top Yell Jan 2017)

H!P's biggest mysteries
We dig into Kobushi Factory's '8 mysteries'!!

One can't help but say that Kobushi Factory's mysteries are some of H!P's biggest mysteries.
This time around, we attack them directly about eight of these mysteries.
Ultimately, what sort of answers will they respond with...

Mystery number one
Why are all of you always so loud!?

Taguchi: Hmm... You're immediately going for the group's biggest mystery. (laughs)

Hamaura: But honestly, what's the real reason?

When you're on tour or doing promotional activities, you're always together with the members, aren't you? Don't you run out of things to talk about?

Taguchi: Now that you mention it, what do we normally talk about......?

Hamaura: We generally start by reporting what happened during the day.

Isn't that what little kids do at home, reporting to their mothers what happened during the day?

Hamaura: Well there is that. (laughs) Which reminds me, we often talk of family as well. Actually, we get to hear lots of stories, like why someone got into a fight with their mum in the morning. Those are pretty funny.

Taguchi: Family stories are a staple.

Hamaura: For example, Ogawa Rena-chan's mother has the same personality as Ogawa Rena-chan.

It must get pretty crazy in the Ogawa household!

Ogawa: Maybe I'm in my rebellious phase, but whenever my parents say something, I always talk back. Then I get a really intense scolding. But at night, they'll throw me a 'Ganbarenako again today!'

Taguchi: It's weird to use say things like 'throw' when referring to your parents. (bitter laugh) But Rena definitely loves her mother. That's the reason why they often clash. She'll say things like 'I really hate you! You don't understand anything!' Immediately after that, with a wheedling voice, she'll call her, 'Mama~? I'm coming back home now, ok~♥'.

Hamaura: The funny thing is that when we talk about our families, we'll act it out.

Act it out? In what sense?

Hamaura: Everyone gets a role, like 'father', 'mother', 'myself'. We have fun acting out not just the Ogawa household, but the funny Taguchi household as well.

Mystery number 2
There are rumours that Hamachan is the boss-in-the-shadows. Is that true!?

Hirose: It's true! She's guilty!

Taguchi: You're calling her 'guilty'? (bitter laugh) She's not a suspect...

For the fans who have been watching her since her H!P Kenshuusei days, it's hard to imagine the sight of Hamaura-san mercilessly taking control.

Hamaura: Is that so? Near the end of my tenure as a Kenshuusei, I was relatively quite in charge. And it was simply due to me being more senior in years.

Taguchi: That's true, they might have a slightly different image of her if they've watched her since she was in primary school. Since she was really small. But we've grown.

Hamaura: They generally know what I'll nag about. It's when they just up and change the choreography of their own accord, doing the moves differently from what our sensei taught us!

The nuance of the dance is forced to change because they insert their own adjustments to the moves?

Taguchi: Nothing so presumptuous. For example, as Kenshuusei, we got to dance 'Piriri to Yukou!' on the same stage as Berryz Kobo-san. At the time, even though the correct move was to spin our arms right, everyone except me spun their arms left. I'd even reminded them before the rehearsals. I'd told them to spin their arms right at that point. That's when I got angry.

Hirose: You really blew your top then~. What's more, everyone was telling you to correct yourself since you were the odd one out. Even though you were the only one who was correct. (laughs) She then reminded us that she had already mentioned that we should spin our arms right earlier, before the rehearsals. Then Hamachan gathered us all up for a huge lecture. Just as the song title means 'Let's spice things up!', things got spicy backstage. (laughs)

Taguchi: When it comes to performing, Hamachan is the most serious. Even when she says that we've got to stir things up, she always wraps things up perfectly. On the other hand, Fujii Rio-chan and I will check whether we're doing the right thing by looking at Hamachan.

Hirose: It's not that she's got a good memory, it's that she's got a serious personality. She doesn't remember the moves just by happenstance. But girls like Taguchi Natsumi-chan are able to grasp the general movement, but when they get to the studio, they'll panic and ask for help. That's a common situation. (laughs)

Poor thing. There's no need to name names. (laughs)

Hamaura: No, it's the truth. She promised me in the past. That once we became Kobushi Factory, she would stop that. So from then onwards, I stopped teaching her.

That sounds like something a drill sergeant would say. (laughs)

Taguchi: Did you hear that? Hamachan, you're a real Spartan. (laughs)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Maruwakari Summer 2016: Miyamoto Karin

Developing even further after her stint in a drama's main role
Don't miss Karin's future growth!
Q1. Who is your favourite H!P member (including OGs)?
Niigaki Risa-san. She's someone I admire. Whatever it is, she does things properly and with all her might, and she treats her kouhai equally. I really love her.

Q2. What H!P song would you like to sing solo?
'dearest.' (Matsuura Aya)
This song somehow feels like a thick wall for me to overcome. I'll do my best to be able to sing it someday.

Q3. Among the (current) H!P members, who would you like to go to the sea with, and what would you do?
Morning Musume。´16's Kudo Haruka-chan. I want her to swim stylishly. And I'd like us to share some kakigoori together. I want her to teach me swimming as well!!

Q4. Who is the 'summer girl' amongst the (current) H!P members?
Juice=Juice's Kanazawa Tomoko-chan. Since she was born in the summer (2nd July), and she somehow has the characteristics of someone born under the 'Cancer' star sign.

Q5. If you were to come out with a photobook, please tell us where you'd like to go and what you'd like to do.
New York. I'd like to wear clothes that would stand out, flashy make-up, and take photos that would lack Miyamoto Karin-ness.

Q6. What is your treasure?
My family. I truly am blessed. As an only child, I get priority in everything.

Q7. Is there anything that you'd like to make a start on?
I'd like to take the Vegetable Sommelier Certification... That's my little dream.

Q8. Please make a new unit by picking a person from each group.
℃-ute's Okai Chisato-san
Morning Musume。´16's Ishida Ayumi-san
ANGERME's Takeuchi Akari-chan
Country Girls' Funaki Musubu-chan
Kobushi Factory's Taguchi Natsumi-chan
Tsubaki Factory's Asakura Kiki-chan
The shorty group. I'd like us to dance in flat shoes.

Q9. Please tell us what's the best thing about your own group.
The frequency of our blog updates.
We don't really fight. Everyone's mature. So maybe the fact that we end up making compromises might be a weakness...

Finally, please give a message to all the fans

Miyamoto Karin

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Morito Chisaki - Ponytail White Paper (UTB Jan 2017)

We have 'Chiichan' Morito Chisaki from Country Girls, the group that celebrated their 2nd anniversary this month! This girl has developed markedly, and clad in a school uniform, she's so brilliant that it's almost blinding. She's also filled with fervent feelings towards the great Momochi-senpai, who announced her graduation just a while ago.

If Momochi-senpai hadn't been around, we wouldn't be who we are now.

Congratulations on your second anniversary!

'Thank you very much!!'

How were these past two years?

'They passed by in the blink of an eye. They were really packed! Before I joined, I was someone who didn't think about anything, I just went through life normally.'

Was there a turning point where you personally felt that you had changed?

'Everything was just so new, so I have lots of memories and I was given many opportunities to grow, but the stage-play experience was the biggest.'

It must have been a trial for someone who gets easily embarrassed like yourself.

'I couldn't imagine myself standing on-stage and acting. Had I been given the option, I probably wouldn't have wanted to go through with it... But all the members gave me their support, and it was a huge thing for me to get through.'

And now you have confidence!?

'Not yet... But I realised that there is some meaning to seeing things to their end.'

Your winter tour has already started, and the group will be entering your third year. But just as it was about to happen, Momochi-senpai announced her graduation...

'She'd mentioned the two, three years at the start. But it shocked me to hear that there was an actual, real cutoff date. Momochi-senpai taught us everything about being idols. If Momochi-senpai hadn't been around, Country Girls wouldn't be what we are now.'

It feels like having a producer closeby, doesn't it?

'We were really lucky to have her doing activities together with us, despite the huge difference in our careers. We really owe the polishing up of our talking ability in particular to Momochi-senpai. Because of Momochi-senpai, our lackluster MCs become funny! It's almost miraculous.'

So, you're now feeling quite uneasy?

'Honestly, I am. But with the remaining seven months, I'd like to watch and learn even more from Momochi-senpai, and I'll do my best so that she can graduate without any worries about us. Momochi-senpai also taught this to us: "Don't forget to smile!"'

Good Boy Bad Girl / Peanuts Butter Jelly Love / Country GirlsMorito Chisaki (Country Girls) Mini Photo Book "Greeting - Photobook -" / Chisaki Morito

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Hoshibe Sho's liner notes on Kobushi Factory's songs

Kobushi Sono Ichi / Kobushi-factory

Here are translations of some of the liner notes written by Hoshibe Sho on his songs contained in Kobushi Factory's first album, Kobushi Sono 1.

Dosukoi! Kenkyo ni Daitan
Dosukoi! With Humility and Audacity

Released in September 2015, this was Kobushi Factory's major debut song.

Using the original, Japanese-style song on the demo track as the base, it was turned into a three chorus configuration, and finished up as more of a rock song.
The theme of the lyrics is 'Don't forget your initial resolution'.
I think that in competitions, love, work, and other things, one's initial resolution begins to fade as one continues on with them for a long while.
With that as the theme of their debut single, as those girls sing it while they perform sumo moves, I'm sure that it will be carved into their chests no matter how many years pass.

In comparison to the Kobushi members, while there is a difference in ages between myself and them, I happen to think of them as my 'contemporaries'.
As fellow amateurs that debuted in 2015, let's always treasure that frame of mind.
And let's all steadily study hard, so that we become people who 'Continuously bring forth things of value'!

Hoshibe Sho

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Hamaura Ayano's thoughts about being accepted into a new unit (Idol Frontline 2015)

[Note: For reference, this was after Kobushi had been announced as a new unit, but before they had been even assigned a name, say nothing of member colours or of Tsubaki.]


With the establishment of your new group, you'll be appearing in a stage-play and releasing a CD. So have you heard anything from your Kenshuusei senpai who have already made their debut?

Hamaura: Takagi Sayuki-chan sent me a congratulatory message. She wrote quite a long message, which made me happy. She wrote all sorts of things, giving me things like advice and so on. And she also said that she was glad that Tagucchi (Taguchi Natsumi) and Rena and I got into a new unit.

Did Tsugunaga Momoko-senpai, whom you admire, say anything?

Hamaura: Tsugunaga-san just happened to be next to me at the Hello! Con rehearsals. She told me that it made her so happy that she felt like crying! Besides that, Ikuta Erina-san, Makino Maria-chan, Sasaki Rikako-chan, Fukumura Mizuki-san...... they all wished me congratulations!

Did the other Kenshuusei say anything?

Hamaura: Many of the Kenshuusei girls cried... I think that those were tears of frustration. It really is frustrating to not get picked.

Hmm? Were they told on a different day, not on the day you got the surprise announcement [that you would be part of a new unit]?

Hamaura: It was on a different day. It was announced in front of everyone that there would be a new unit at the rehearsals for the winter Hello! Project concerts. And then, everyone cried...... We were at a loss as to what to do. We should have gone to talk to them perhaps, but that might have come off as being condescending. And I really understand how frustrating it is to not get picked. [For reference: Hamachan failed the Morning Musume。 9ki, 10ki, 11ki, 12ki auditions as well as the S/mileage 3ki auditions. She was ineligible for the S/mileage 2ki auditions due to being below the age requirements.]

A brutal contrast. Since all Kenshuusei are aiming for a debut. If that's the case, do you think of the other members as rivals that you have triumph over? Or comrades-in-arms?

Hamaura: The basics of the Kenshuusei is that the senpai teach the kouhai. So we may be rivals, but we're also close comrades that can teach one another as well. Even in this group, Taguchi Natsumi-chan and I have spent the longest time as Kenshuusei. So I think that we have a role to teach the rest as well. Not just singing and dancing, but also common courtesy. Not that I'm good at teaching, but I've got to work hard at that.


I still remember the tiny little Hamaura-san.

Hamaura: I became a senpai in the blink of eye. I was still very much a kid when I joined, and I hadn't thought about making my debut at all. Back then, I was just giving it my all in order to not be left behind by the senpai. But then, the senpais left in a stroke, and before I knew it, I was the most senior.

How did you feel when you saw your kouhai make their debut before you?

Hamaura: Of course I felt frustrated. However, be it Uemura Akari-chan or Kanazawa Tomoko-chan, their performing ability has soared ever since they entered Juice=Juice. They're not the two that I used to know when we did the occasional performance together at the Nama Tamago Shows! Honestly speaking, Uemura Akari-chan wasn't that comfortable with singing back then, but now she's really good...... She's even better than me. It's good motivation.

Are there any Kenshuusei that you've got your hopes up for in the future?

Hamaura: Kaga Kaede-chan! Besides that, Kishimoto Yumeno-chan! The two of them are pretty level-headed, and I hope that they'll take the lead.


Any hopes for your member colour?

Hamaura: Pink or orange. Pink is Tsugunaga-san's colour, and I personally really like it as well. However, I really like orange as well. Orange is a colour that really lifts your spirits when you look at it, isn't it? So I like it.

Tsugunaga-san's name has been coming out everywhere. What do you respect about Tsugunaga-san?

Hamaura: She's a quick-thinker, and her singing and dancing are perfect. Her quick wits in particular, it's something that can't be mimicked. I'm really amazed by how she's able to respond to anything.


You have teachers for dancing and teaching, but how do you practise talking?

Hamaura: I make notes. I write an assembly of words on paper, and figure what simple words I could add in to make it easier to convey, that's how I do my research. While it's possible to not use a notebook and do it on a mobile phone, somehow or the other, if I don't write it down in words, I end up being unable to figure out what I'm talking about. Who's there, where it is, what I'll do, what other people are doing...... I also include those elements when I write out my sentences, then I have someone like my older sister take a look at it. I ask if they understand what it means. If I'm told that it doesn't make sense, I fix it.

That's amazing! You put together what you want to talk about by establishing it logically and systematically.

Hamaura: Yes. I really learnt a lot when I got to follow ℃-ute-san on their concert. And of course, I learn from Tsugunaga-san's talking as well.


Your new group is just getting started. Frankly speaking, what sort of group would you like to be in the future?

Hamaura: I'd like to become the liveliest group in Hello! Project! Colour-wise, we'd be something bright like yellow. And I also feel like I'd like each and every one of us to fully bring out our individual characteristics.

Idol Saizensen 2015 / Yosensha

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Momochi no Kimochi: Rebellious Phase (Essay #10/22)

At the middle school I went to, girls were mandated to wear skirts that ended below the knee.
It was a serious school, so no one was willing to break that school regulation.
I was the sole exception. 
You know, whenever I went to Tokyo for work, everyone had cute, short skirts. 
So I wanted to wear short skirts as well!
So one day in my third year of middle school, as we were nearing our graduation ceremony, I used up a bit of my allowance to alter my skirt.
The skirt was modestly short enough to reveal my knees, and not much above that, but for me, it was an above-the-knees skirt of my dreams. 
I immediately put them on and went to school, becoming the centre of attention!
... Except that, before that could happen, I was stopped by a teacher at the school entrance,  got dragged away to the staffroom, and received a good scolding.
I never wore that skirt again.
It was only for a single day, and when I went to-and-fro from school, I wore sweatpants.
By the way, the alteration cost was 2.500 yen. [cries]

Tsugunaga Momoko Photo Essay "Momochi no Kimochi" / Momoko Tsugunaga
Momoko Tsugunaga

Saturday, 7 January 2017

℃-ute's Suzuki Airi Sprinting until their breakup in June next year (Kobe Shinbun 2nd Dec 2016)

℃-ute's Suzuki Airi
'My love towards singing will not waver'
While news of SMAP's dissolution was flying around this summer, fans were also shocked by news of another breakup. This breakup was of the talented 5-person team '℃-ute', who are said to be 'The queens of the idol world'. The ace Suzuki Airi (22) stated, 'Being an idol is a wonderful occupation. It's my pride.' They'll be dashing on until they reach the finish line, in June next year.

℃-ute made their major debut in February 2007 as part of the idol collective 'Hello! Project'. Besides Suzuki, the group has other members such as Okai Chisato (22), who is flourishing on the variety programme scene.

One of the songs from their latest triple A-side single is 'Mugen Climax'. The music video is well regarded, and we can see the 5 members going to the utmost limits with their skill at singing and dancing. Eight names are hidden in the lyrics, comprising the present as well as graduated members. Suzuki was joyful, 'That sort of trick fits with the world of the song'.

Suzuki built up her popularity with a singing ability that is preeminent among idols. When asked about balancing university life and idol activities, she declared that she held 'Multiple occupations'. With a laugh that revealed her characteristic snaggletooth, 'I'm able to try out all sorts of things, like singing and modelling, it suits my curious self. No other job lets me feel such support from those around me'.

Going on with that pace, on the 20th of August, ℃-ute announced their breakup. With all the members having passed the age of twenty, they took the opportunity to contemplate their individual futures, and arrived at that decision. 'There were members who wanted to do things that they couldn't do in our group as it stands, so they'd like to work hard on that next'. As for her own thoughts, 'I like work that can give people smiles. In whatever form, whatever media I may appear in, I ultimately would like to keep on singing'.

Until their Saitama Super Arena breakup concert in June next year, they intend to vigorously pile on the concerts so that they'll be able to share a 'Chou Wonderful' time with their fans 'who are our allies, no matter what'.

Source: Kobe Shinbun

Watashi no Key wo Shittemasuka / Airi SuzukiSuzuki Airi Style Book "Airi-sT" / Airi Suzuki

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

News reports from the opening day of the 2017 Winter Hello! Cons

Each group's aspirations for the year

Yamagishi Riko (Tsubaki Factory)
Up to now, Tsubaki Factory have been told that we have this image of being reserved and quiet, but with our major debut on the 22nd of February this year, we'd like to do our best to make this year the year where Tsubaki Factory takes the lead role.

Hirose Ayaka (Kobushi Factory)
On this day, the 2nd of January, we, Kobushi Factory, celebrate the 2nd year anniversary of our formation. We'll be starring in the stage-play 'JK Ninja Girls' that will be starting in February this year, which will also be made into a movie. It feels like we'll be getting increasingly more opportunities for acting work. So we'd like to take up acting jobs and further improve Kobushi Factory's ability to express ourselves. As a group, we would like to work hard towards the goal of having hall concerts by ourselves. So we ask for your kindness in this year as well.

Tsugunaga Momoko (Country Girls)
In November last year, I announced that I would be graduating from Hello! Project and Country Girls on the 30th of June this year. I've been part of the Hello! Project concerts since the summer of 2002, and this is my 30th. I've been doing this for a very long time, so I really feel sad when I think about the fact that it'll be my last Hello! Project concert. But as a member of Country Girls, we'll be releasing our double A side single 'Good Boy Bad Girl / Peanut Butter Jelly Love'. It'll be my last single, so I'm pretty pumped up. I'd like to do my best so that the kouhai will warmly accept it, so I ask for your kindness in this year as well.

Miyazaki Yuka (Juice=Juice)
In 2016, we reached a total of 225 concerts throughout the country. We'd like to do our best to hold even more concerts, not just in Japan, but overseas as well. The five of us in Juice=Juice would like to go on doing our best. We ask for your kindness in this year as well.

Fukumura Mizuki (Morning Musume。’17)
In 2016, as Morning Musume。’16, we got to perform in Houston in America as well as Korea and Taiwan. We got to collaborate with a lot of other idols. It was a year that let us broaden our horizons. So hopefully we'll get to do a lot more performances overseas in 2017. And the new members have joined us, so we'd like to do our best to go on and properly create a new Morning Musume。’17. We ask for your kindness in this year as well.

Wada Ayaka (ANGERME)
It's difficult to say this in front of the leader of Morning Musume。, but ANGERME's goal is to become the number one in Hello! Project. It's a big dream, but we'd like to work hard at it. In 2016, ANGERME saw a series of graduations and new entries. But now, we'll be doing our best in our new form, so we'd be happy if you would support us in 2017 as well. We ask for your kindness.