esjaye asked: hi is there also a 10,000 letter interview for yuto, yamada, hikaru?
There will be in the future, but currently only Daiki, Yabu, Chinen & Inoo’s are out.
translation blog by some crazy JE fan.
esjaye asked: hi is there also a 10,000 letter interview for yuto, yamada, hikaru?
There will be in the future, but currently only Daiki, Yabu, Chinen & Inoo’s are out.
fyeahfeels asked: I've read your reply to the 10,000 interview, I forgot I owe so many of my quoted posts to your translation and I haven't personally thank you for that. Thank you so much! I love wandering around your blog and read or re-read your translations. Good luck on your future works! I'll continue supporting it! (hope you don't mind) hehe. ^^ - Louise
Ahahaha I’m overwhelmed by the compliments I receive for my works. Why would I mind people supporting my blog? I greatly appreciate it :)
If you have any requests, feel free to pop in and ask!
riinsomnia asked: really hope you have a spare time for translating inoo 10,000 long interview bc you hv done with the previous 3. it's out already~ i'll be waiting hehe. thanks for sharing everything ♡ xoxo -riin
I’ll be working on it as soon as I get my copy of the latest Myojo magazine. I’m sorry, with longer interviews like such I’m not too comfortable with using scans. But I promise you I will get it done, so please, check back to my blog from time to time!
satommy1 asked: Excuse me, can I translate your translations to spanish?
Sure, of course :)
My dream? “To get into JE”.
-So, what were you like when you were little?
Umm…I wasn’t really shy or anything.
When I was little, my parents used to hold a gymnastics class. My older sister; she’s 2 years older than me, and she used to take lessons there. I was so tiny back then I couldn’t stay back home by myself so I’d go to that gym with them waiting for them to finish up. I used to talk to all the parentals so I guess that’s why I wasn’t too shy back then.
-Didn’t you do gymnastics?
I…well, that didn’t really come to mind for some reason. And there’s also that I started dance when I was 3 years old, and from then my world was about dancing.
-What got you dancing?
I don’t actually remember that well, but I think it’s my mum. I recall at first, I felt that dancing was hard; I kept on moving opposite ways because of my inability to keep with the rhythm.
-But you endured it.
I think it’s that feeling of accomplishment that you get as commitment proves to overcome your weaknesses one by one. After two years, I begged my parents to put me in with another class.
-Then, when did you first display interest in JE?
I wonder. At first, it was that my older sister and my mum liked Sakurai (Sho)-kun, and I guess I was influenced by that. By the time I was in preschool even I liked JE, and my dream was “To get into JE”. It was right when Arashi had debuted, and I was always singing to their songs.
-And…you and your love for Ohno (Satoshi)-kun is pretty well known.
I went to Arashi’s live when I was in Year 1 or 2. Until then I had this impression that Ohno-kun, don’t get me wrong, but I had this impression that he was that carefree guy. But then on stage, when I saw him there, dancing, he was so different, so kakkoii. I really wanted to stand on that stage, and amaze everybody like him.
-So it was your will to audition for JE.
Yes. I sent off my resume at the end of Year 3, and my mum was so excited about it.
-How did you feel when you were told that you passed the first stage?
A little into Year 4, the letter with all the second stage dates & locations arrived. I was so happy. I was like, “Yes!”
-How was the audition?
I lived in Shizuoka back then, so I had to go on a bullet train with my mum-I was so nervous. I mean, they were going to judge on my dancing and everything. I didn’t really think about getting in or not getting in, but then again, I spent my life dancing since I was three, so I didn’t want to lose to other boys.
-You auditioned for “Ninja Hattori-kun” straight after the JE audition, right?
Johnny-san came up to me and he was like, “Hey, are you interested in auditioning? Go ask your mother if you can audition.” I originally wanted to get into JE to dance, so I thought movies were totally out of the question. I was like, “Let’s go hooommmeee” “I wanna sleeeppp” “Let’s go hooooommmeee” to my mum, all whinging. But she was like, “I’ll get you a new game” so I ended up auditioning. （笑）
I passed the audition for the movie too, so really, it was two birds with one stone. （笑）It’s baffling when you think about it. Had I not auditioned for the movie, I may not have been here at all.
-How was shooting for the movie?
During the filming, I lived in a hotel in Tokyo for about a month and a half. In the interview that was part of the making-of, I remember saying that it was fun, and I didn’t feel lonely at all. I pretended I was tough. Whereas actually, I was always feeling lonely, and there were times when I fell a little ill. Those times my mum came straight from Shizuoka. It was heart-warming for me, and I felt really supported.
Yabu-kun, who was sitting next to me, hit me on the knees
-And so, after that your activities as a Jr kept on growing?
I was still living in Shizuoka, so it was only sometimes for interviews that they called me on. So, at first I didn’t really do things like dancing behind senpais.
Even when they called me on for interviews, I wouldn’t have friends so I’d be just sitting there, nervous, until the photographer would call my name. I’d do my shoots, and then sit back down on that chair, shutting up to myself. The others would be used to it, so they’d be chatting and playing games.
-Did you want someone to talk to you?
Well…not really because I’d grow even more nervous. （笑）From what I remember, there was this time when I happened to have an interview with Yabu (Kota)-kun. We didn’t have much of a conversation, but Yabu-kun, who was sitting next to me, would hit me on the knees, and I’d hit him back. I think actions like those got my to slowly blend in.
-Were you able to see Ohno-kun through becoming a Jr.?
Once when I went to Tokyo for an interview, Matsumoto (Jun)-kun was shooting at the same studio. I went to greet him, and I told him that I loved Arashi. He asked me which song I liked best, and I said, “Tomadoinagara”-he told me I was old fashioned. （笑）I also told him that I was going to their concert in Nagoya, and he invited me backstage.
-So you met Ohno-kun for the first time backstage of that concert?
Yes. They were all doing their make-up and everything, and as soon as I spotted Ohno-kun, Sakurai-kun came up to me and played with my cheeks and everything-I was so happy I don’t even remember what I said to Ohno-kun. （笑）
After that, they let me in backstage to the Jr.’s room. All of a sudden, some guy came up to me and asked me if I knew who they were. My mum whispered in my ear that it was Kitayama (Hiromitsu)-kun-now that I think of it, that was Kitayama-kun. And Fujigaya (Taisuke)-kun was there too.
-How did you feel about debuting back then?
At that live, I saw the all the audience from the path connecting to the stage. I aspired to walk further on the path to get to the other side, where you could get a clearer and larger view of the audience. But back then, all I wanted to do was dance, first behind senpais, eventually behind Arashi.
I want to dance with him.
-How did you feel about not being called on because you lived in Shizuoka?
I saw a lot of Jr.’s on TV. (Nakajima) Yuto-kun and (Yamada) Ryosuke started to dance in positions that drew a lot of attention, and I envied them. Especially when I saw Ryosuke on TV, I wanted to dance with him.
-You moved to Tokyo when you started Middle School?
I moved because of my father’s job. I always wanted to move to Tokyo so I could do more as a Jr. It came at a great time, really. Everything is about luck and timing in my life. （笑）
-Did your activities as a Jr. flourish after moving?
Yes. Straight after I moved, I was called on for a rehearsal of Jr.’s concert at Budokan. I practiced as normal, and then the next day, for some reason I was put in position with the main crew of the Jr.’s. People like Ryosuke, Yuto-kun, Inoo (Kei)-chan and (Arioka) Daiki-kun were there. I was like, “EH!?” because they were all the members you saw on TV; I was so happy. Yeah, extremely happy.
-And so your aspirations to dance with Yamada-kun were suddenly coming true.
Yes. Back then, everyone used to call Ryosuke “Yama-chan”. I wanted to befriend him, so I fooled around and called him “Kaba-chan” and he was like, “Hey, I’m gonna get angry at you” but then I’d still call him “Kaba-chan”…it was fun.（笑）
-I’m sure it wasn’t absolutely filled with happiness, didn’t you face hardships too?
Well…I guess…it was hard keeping up with the choreography that everyone already knew, having to learn it from the top.
-It was hard even for you?
I used take lessons about 5 times per week, so I thought it’d be easy. But actually, there was an immense amount of choreography, with so little time to remember. A Jr. needs to learn choreography to a song in 3-4 hours. Maybe even two songs. It was difficult at first, not being able to keep up with the sheer speed, even when I’ve been dancing all my life.
-How did you overcome that?
When we got free time during rehearsals, I asked people like Ryosuke and Yuto-kun to go over the choreography with me. The choreography also differed between everyone, so it was like, ask this guy for this song, as another guy for that song.
-That sounds troubling.
Well, I didn’t really think of it as trouble. I liked dancing, and there was that joy of being able to stand on stage that kept me going. I could finally stand on that stage.
-How was it, being able to stand on stage for the first time at the Budokan concert?
At a rehearsal, I was fooling around with Ryosuke and I was showing-off a ballet pirouette. Our choreographer happened to see me doing it, so he was like, “Hey, what do you think about doing that in the opening?” So I instantaneously got a solo. It’s pretty incredible.
-A sudden promotion.
In the opening, I’d go out there by myself, doing pirouettes, and I could feel the other Jr.’s and the audience thinking who the hell is this boy. But it felt good to finally stand on that stage.
I saw the collected members, I was struck.
-In 2007 you were chosen to be part of Hey!Say!7.
I was called on when I was dancing behind KAT-TUN, with the other 4. Johnny-san had a white board with him, and he’d write “Hey!Say!7” on it. It was as if he was saying, “This is you guys from now on.” I was so happy; it was the first time ever that I was part of a group.
-And 6 months after that your debut as Hey!Say!JUMP was decided.
Yes. At first we were told it was just another magazine interview, but when I arrived at the meeting, there, there were the Hey!Say!7 members as usual, but there were also Yabu-kun and (Yaotome) Hikaru-kun and Inoo-chan so I thought it was strange. But then I realized that it was right before the volleyball championships, and there was that question of debuts arising within the Jr.’s. Back then Ya-Ya-Yah, A.B.C., Kis-My-Ft2, J.J. Express were the main groups in the Jr.’s, and then below them were us, Hey!Say!7. So it was assumed that one of the four groups were going to debut. I never thought it was going to be us. Because, it hadn’t even been a year since I moved to Tokyo and finally started dancing with the other Jr.’s. But as soon as I saw the collected members, I was struck. I saw the possibility of a debut.
-And you were correct.
Apparently there were members who were told prior to that date, but I was one of those who weren’t, so I was there, curious yet excitedly aware of the situation. （笑）
-An unexpectedly early debut. Didn’t you feel lost?
Well, I didn’t really have time to feel lost. We had our concert at Tokyo Dome, left with the puzzling question of why we held our concert at somewhere so big. I can’t even remember what the concert was like; I was so nervous. The best I could do back then was to dance as I was trained, sing as I was told.
-All your dreams came true at a sudden jolt.
Yes. So it was a shame I didn’t get to dance behind Arashi in the end. But then again, that’s too much to ask.
-It may be so.
I couldn’t just give up there, so after I debuted, I told Ohno-kun I wanted to dance behind them, but he was like, “Nope, you’ve debuted, Chinen-kun.” I still wanted to do something with him. Like how Taguchi (Junnosuke)-kun and Higashiyama (Noriyuki)-san did a stage. I hope to be able to do that sort of thing with him one day.
Whether my high school life would be fruitful, I knew it was all up to me.
-Is there anything else in particular that you felt about debuting?
Um…well sometimes, maybe it’s just me being oversensitive, but from time to time I felt the glares from other Jr.’s. I think we all felt it. We skipped over A.B.C and Kis-My-Ft2, and all the other senpai’s we respected. There were times when they had to dance behind us, and we felt very uncomfortable and sorry.
-Any senpai’s you were good friends with?
Tsuka-chan (Tsukada Ryoichi). Tsuka-chan didn’t just support me in acrobatic terms, but he was also took very good care of me overall. Often we went home together, and he’d treat me to a meal. It was especially touching how even after we debuted, he still treated me the same, even thought he must’ve felt something about us.
-You debuted when you were in 2nd Year middle school. After that you went to Horikoshi High School with Yamada-kun & Nakajima-kun.
Well, to be honest, I didn’t really want to go to high school. （笑）We already made our debut. I thought that meant it was better for me to concentrate on following that single path. I thought through it until the very last minute, and I applied.
-What made you decide so?
One thing was that people from my agency advised me to “Think about my fans”. And, I thought about it. Fans of my age. Fans of younger ages. I decided to follow this path. So I felt there was no point in going to high school. But I was only assuming there was no point, it was not an opinion deriving from experience. If, just what if someone decided not to go to high school, just because “Chinen-kun didn’t go”? Whether my high school life would be fruitful, I didn’t know, but I knew it was all up to me. That’s why I decided that if I were to go, I would do everything properly, would go to school, and do my job.
-I see. So, how was high school?
It was so much fun. I’m glad I went. （笑）I was separated from Ryosuke at one point, but I was in the same class as Yuto-kun the whole time.
-What kind of memories do you have?
I was literally with Yuto-kun the whole time. And, well, maybe it’s a bit weird saying this myself, but us two were pretty straight forward and when we had volley ball for sport, we were like, “Yep, let’s do this. I mean volley ball=us.” （笑）And when we saw classmates cheating, we were like, “Let’s keep to the rules!”
With Yuto-kun, when we were 1st Years, there was some school event where we stayed over for 3 nights or so, and he was chosen for the male leader, nominated by our teacher. It was such a hard job that he got a little bit sick but then, even now, when Yuto-kun and I are talking, we go back to that high school sort of mood, and we feel a little reminiscent.
-And in 2nd Year high school, you became part of NYC.
It wasn’t something you could just do, you know, be a part of two groups simultaneously, so it was great. Except, there’s only the three of us in NYC, which meant if we appeared in a TV show, the likelihood is that we’d all be having to talk-and that was nerve wracking. （笑）I’m glad Ryosuke was there with me, and it has also been a great chance for me to realize the importance of members. It’s just that even now, for most of the time our activities are with JUMP, so I genuinely feel guilty for Yuma, at the same time, I really do feel that Yuma is a very strong person.
At times we laughed, at times we cried. That’s how we earnt everything; one by one.
-I acknowledge that you put a lot of time and effort into everything you do. But it seems all too fairy-tale-like hearing your story.
I guess I faced less hardships than everyone else. 80% of my achievements are consisted of luck. I’m a believer in that everyone will face the same amount of hardships not matter what; whether it be earlier in their career, or later. Even looking at JUMP as a whole, you can tell that it’s mostly just luck. We were just luckier than other groups. So I’m sure there will be many things in the future that we would have to face. I try to remind myself that we are all fighters, constantly in a battle. Most of all, I believe that we can make it through.
When we debuted, we weren’t very used to standing on the stage. It was like we were constantly tight-roping unlike other groups who had the experience to get over all these things. We only just made it. But as we did all these things, we had our fans with us. Looking back on it now, we cried a lot.
The last stage of our 2nd year tour was at Tokyo Dome. We were alone that time, unlike at our debut, and the seats were full. We saw the seats high above lighting up with pen lights, and it was so beautiful we all cried. We never said direct words, but there we finally knew for sure that we all felt the same way. Our bonds grew stronger. You know, fans are so powerful. They in fact are the source of our power. We stand on the stage so we can make them smile, cheer them up, so we can give them power. But when you think about it, our fans give us more power than we can ever give them.
We all cried at our 2nd SUMMARY too. I did the trapeze for the first time. Ryosuke tight-roped for the first time. It was fully packed; I’m pretty sure that was one of the hardest shows we’ve done. At the rehearsals, we didn’t really pull it off. I guess we never actually been through a rehearsal without someone falling. We were all dreading the outcomes because the quality was so poor; I mean, how could we let our audience see this? When we managed to pull the full show off on the very first day at the very first performance, we all cried. You may think that crying comes along only with the last day. But we were so worried that this performance was going to be a failure.
-You were that anxious?
We were lucky to have debuted so early. But that meant our experience, nor our performance were up to the mark. At times we laughed, at times we cried. That’s how we earnt everything; one by one.
-Arioka-kun mentioned that when things weren’t going too well for him at SUMMARY, your text helped him pull through.
I…don’t actually remember that one. （笑）But it’s warming to know that what I did helped Daiki.
-So, do you have occasions when you were helped by your members?
Oh, countless times. When I had to do the trapeze at SUMMARY, we couldn’t spend a lot of time on it in the rehearsal. Every practice was important, and as I was about to pull off my trick, I saw my members, silent, looking at me, in my eyes, so I can concentrate. That’s when I thought, “They’re looking at me. They’re there for me. I can do this.” When I pulled it off, my members came up to me and gave me a high-five. Really, I’ve always been supported by my members.
-If there was another factor that allowed you to overcome your hardships, what would you say that is?
Well, if you were to really dig deep into this, I’d say it’s my love for this job. But I mean it when I say that my members are the largest contributing factor. When I face any doubts, my members are there for me. When I face any failures, my fans will be there for me. So I can continue to face new challenges, and that’s how I’ve always pulled through the hard times. Although I shouldn’t be over dependent on my fans, I guess I can’t really help but count on them. （笑）
The real JUMP is still to come.
-It seems as though so far, JUMP has been following some shiny path, but hearing your story it lets us see that you have done everything step by step.
It’s not to be put in past tense, we’re still moving on, step by step. We’ve only just started to grasp the meaning behind Johnny-san’s words.
“You guys should just do what you want.” He always said so. “Just do what you want” It’s not like we held ourselves back from what we wanted to do, we were just…reluctant. Some part of us wasn’t sure whether it was the right thing to display such opinions. But now, we’re all comfortable in believing what Johnny-san has told us. JUMP became more like…JUMP. Now, when we are to have concerts, we try to put in as much as we can, telling everyone of our opinions on what we want to do for our fans. That’s how we’re changing.
JUMP used to be a very obedient group. Someone from JE would be like, do this, and then do that, you’ll be fine, and we’d all just nod and do as we were told. But now we’re able to tell them what we want to do ourselves. I think that’s how JUMP is going to become JUMP from now on.
-Do what you want to do. It’s simple, but it’s also very important.
Of course maintaining that balance is hard. There was this one time when JE wanted us to do this thing at one of our concerts. But from our point of view, we weren’t all too enthusiastic on that. Our choreographer-I guess he picked it up from our body language- he just said, “There’ll be times like this. But this is for your good. For now, do as you are told to the best you can.” It’s only recently we became aware of what we should do, and what we want to do. And the time’s finally come. It’s now our time, when we can do what we really want to do. It’s already been 6 years since our debut, but the real JUMP’s only starting. Our members have started to tell each other how they feel, and say what they wanted to say. It’s only just started. The real JUMP is still to come.
I want to see a view that no other group has seen ever before, with the 9 of us.
-So you guys haven’t had huge fights within members?
Nope. Seriously, we haven’t had fights. It’s more like, Daiki & I are talking, and Hikaru-kun happens to be sandwiched in between us, and he just yells at us “STOP YELLING INTO MY EARS WHAT ARE YOU GUYS? SPEAKERS!?”…and Daiki & I quietly complain （笑）Even when this stuff has to do with work, we’d tell each other how we don’t feel quite right about it, but whenever it’s about to break into an argument, we just stop. I guess it’s because most of our members are the type of people who try to avoid arguments as much as possible. I’m like that too.
-By the way, did you have any rebellious times during your childhood?
Um…well, not really. Maybe when I was in the younger grades at primary school. When I was playing with my class mates at the playground, I accidentally made one of my friends fall over and injure themselves. It wasn’t that much of a big deal but the school contacted my parents. When I went home my mum was crying. She was like, “Why do you do this,” I never made my mum cry. I felt really guilty, and that was when I learnt that even if you didn’t mean it, you could hurt someone and make them sad. I guess that’s how I came to sense potential dangers and tried not to get involved.
-Because you don’t want to hurt anyone?
Yes. But now, I see that with these members, I don’t have to worry about clashing in opinions and fighting over them. Because, we can all cry, not just a few, all of us are mates who can cry at that single view.
-It’s getting to the final questions…so, have you ever considered becoming a gymnast instead?
-Then how about quitting JE?
No. I don’t think there’s anything else but this for me. I’ve never even thought about living a life without JE.
-Now it’s truly the final question. What sort of group do you want Hey!Say!JUMP to be?
What sort of group…it’s hard to verbalise, really. It’s not like we want to take someone, or some group as a model to do this. I want to go somewhere no other group has ever been before, I want to see a view that no other group has every seen before, with the 9 of us, and with our fans. I believe that Hey!Say!JUMP can do this. Hey!Say!JUMP can get to a view that nobody’s ever seen.
I cried because I didn’t want to audition.
-You’re really cute in this photo of you as a baby.
I am cute, aren’t I?（笑）People mistook me for a girl quite often. My sister used to put hair bands on me and toyed around with lipstick.
-You’ve an older brother too?
Yeah. My brother is two years older than me, my sister; four years. I’ve always been the youngest, and I still feel like one.
-You’re used to getting spoiled then?
Oh I was pretty spoiled. I always stuck to my mother. Apparently whenever my mother was on the phone for a long time, I used to grab her apron and I would never let go of it.
-How about your first love?
I think it was when I was in pre-school. I was playing with my friend and with my friend’s sister. I fell over or something and injured myself. My friend’s sister piggy-backed me all the way home and I was like, “This is it!”（笑）
-Then, when did you start playing soccer?
J League had started when I was in pre-school, and by the time I was in primary school it was hugely popular. I used to play at the park using those bars as goals. I started playing in a proper team when I was in Yr1.
-Where did you play?
I wanted to play as goal keeper, like everyone else. But I wasn’t a strong kicker, nor tall enough to get higher shoots（笑）So, instead I played forward.
-You auditioned for JE when you were in Yr6, am I correct?
My sister used to watch this TV show called “Pikaichi” with (Domoto) Koichi-kun in it, and there, she saw this ad on how they were holding a JE audition, so she sent my form off, and I didn’t know.
-You didn’t know?
No. For one thing, I had absolutely no interest in becoming an idol, and the audition was on either Saturday or Sunday, which meant that it doubled with my soccer training. So I refused to go, crying the day before. I was all like, “I don’t wanna go, no, I don’t wanna go, no.”
-Why did you audition in the end?
There was this thing in my class, how it was “in” to have all these badges on your pencil case of all the participating countries of the W.C the next year. My parents promised me to buy me one of those badges, and I went.
-Ahahahaha. So, how was the audition actually?
I went to the venue in my casual clothes, but I remember seeing this one kid with a really cool, fashionable hat. Later, he turned out to be Inoo (Kei).
-Did you guys chat?
Nope. But I do remember how at the audition, when it was the time to express yourself, Inoo put his hand up and started singing Kinki Kids’ “Flower”. He was terrible. （笑）
-Did you do anything?
Actually, I didn’t. After the audition, I started getting called up to take lessons. Those lessons were either on a Saturday or on a Sunday, so they’d call you up on Friday…but then I wouldn’t be able to go to soccer, so I absolutely hated getting those calls, Every week I was tempted to pull out our phone cords.（笑）
-You hated it that much?
Soon after I entered JE, I was selected as a back dancer for “Music Station” as a Jr. There I made mistakes in my dancing, so I was secretly rejoicing that from next week onwards, I would never be called up for lessons-I would go back to my normal life. But then again, the phone calls would come, and every time I’d complain and wail about having to miss out on soccer, and every time my parents would buy me another one of those badges and I’d go.
-Then, how did you end up liking it?
It’s-well, I was always liked by my elders. Rather than being with those of my age, I was often with A.B.C. and KAT-TUN. I remember Totsu- (Totsuka Shota) and I went home the same way? Anyhow I quickly became friends with him. I ate out with Kamenashi (Kazuya)-kun and Akanishi (Jin)-kun, and they often drove me home.
I hated being called “cute” though. I hated it when people ruffled through my hair and stuff. Whenever I got calls from Akanishi-kun I’d be like, “Sorry, I’m in the middle of a game right now.” and I’d just coldly hang up. （笑）But then, I guess in the end, it’s those elders’ kindness that slowly made me like Jr’s.
-Then, what did you tell your friends at school, you know, about being a Jr.?
I never told them. One of my friends told me that they saw me on Music Station, but I’d still be like, “What are you talking about? No way I’d be on TV.”（笑）Even when I needed to miss out on soccer training, I’d say that I had a small get together with relatives to attend to. It was hard, because that excuse made people think I no longer liked soccer.
"Your name starts with Y, right?" The sudden formation of a group
-And I recall that it was pretty soon after you entered that Ya-Ya-Yah formed?
Yeah. Our president was like, “Your name starts with Y, right?” and at the “Shounen Club” rehearsal we were lined up as Y, A, Y, A and he was like, “You guys, are Ya-Ya-Yah.”
-At this point in time, you still haven’t told your friends about JE, have you?
No. Soon we appeared on “Music Station” as Ya-Ya-Yah. The next day I really dreaded going to school. The thoughts about my friends finding out just circled my head-and yes, I was questioned, A LOT. I knew there was no longer any use to hiding it, so I told them everything. That would probably be how I stopped dragging things on.
-How did you feel in 2003, when the TV show “Ya-Ya-Yah” started?
It was just like, “I don’t really get it but let’s just do whatever the grown-ups tell us”. Having said that, when we were told that A.B.C. will be on the show with us, I was really excited.
-And that was the TV Show that held the audition Yaotome (Hikaru)-kun passed and became a Jr.
Yep. It was pretty soon after the show had started, that Hikaru entered.
-What were your first impressions of him?
They told us that he was really good at dancing, so I was wondering what he was like. And then, I was told to teach him the choreography because we’ll be singing “Yuuki 100%” with him on the show. I was like, “Why do I have to teach him this” He gently asked me to teach him the choreography, and yeah, I did teach him…just not so enthusiastically. （笑）It’s nearly been 11 years since that. A long time, really.
-What was your relationship like?
Best friends, allies, rivals, brothers… All of them seem fitting. We starred in “3 nen B gumi Kinpachi-sensei” together. There were times when I questioned how Hikaru was the main in the drama, but then at the same time, I knew he was committed to it. Our personalities were pretty much the exact opposite- him, organised, me, going with the flow. We argued a lot.
Well, at rehearsals, he’d be wanting to go through everything; thoroughly. But I’d be the guy going, “Hey, let’s think about this later and adjust it when we get there”-that caused conflict. It was usually about more…stupid things though. Oh yes, I remember. There was this time at a concert where Hikaru couldn’t find his performance clothes. Hikaru would be like, “You hid my uniform, didn’t you!?” and we’d break out in a fight, because really, I didn’t. He broke off after that, but I’d still be unsatisfied because Hikaru still blamed me for his clothes. In the end it turned out that Senga (Kento) mistook it for his own and wore Hikaru’s.
-Hahahahaha. So, with all this behind, what do you think about being called “YabuHika”?
The creation of Hey!Say!7 “Maybe this is my end of the road.”
-You’ve done some solo concerts as Ya-Ya-Yah too.
Yeah, except…my voice was breaking then. Johnny-san had once said to me that “The good quality you hold, is your high voice.” so I was really anxious about what I was going to do after my voice broke. I would be singing, and I’d be very sensitive to all the high notes that I sang that, didn’t seem as easy as before. I was worried I could no longer sing the songs I was able to sing before. Even at recordings, the people would ask me if I wanted to sing a key or two lower, but I’d be so stern about it, determined to sing it in the right key.
-What were your views on debuting back then?
I assumed that if I was to debut at all, it’ll be with Ya-Ya-Yah. I just felt that it’d be great if we could debut some time. But maybe…I did have some doubts about debuting. I really did not know.
-Did you ever consider quitting?
Yes I did. But I wanted to absolutely avoid any case like where, you know, I’d be left with nothing else. I knew I needed insurance on something. I thought it all through-I needed to get good grades at high school so I can go to university. If I couldn’t debut by the time I was to graduate university, I needed to quit, I needed to prepare for a normal working life. I don’t think that I was ever too focused on just debuting. It didn’t occupy my thoughts, but I guess as I went through many things, it was always there at the back of my mind.
-How did you feel about the creation of Hey!Say!7 in 2007?
Honestly, I felt I was in danger. Especially because right before that, there were times when us Jr’s shuffled our members around and sang. Like when I was put together with Kitayama (Hiromitsu), Kawai (Fumito) and Fujigaya (Taisuke). I felt we were being experimented on, and then we were faced with Kitty GYM. Hikaru was pulled out of Ya-Ya-Yah for that. I questioned his promotion, a lot.
-And then Hey!Say!7 was formed.
It was right when I was starting to question my debut as Ya-Ya-Yah, and when I was thinking “Maybe this is my end of the road.” I was also in 3rd year Senior High school so really, I had to think about my future career.
-But you didn’t quit, did you?
There was this time once when I was meeting up with Johnny-san. He was like, “Hmm…Yabu & Hikaru…you guys have Ya-Ya-Yah….What should I do…” and he was writing up a list of names, all of them were Jrs.
Well, come to think of it now, he was probably writing up the members of Hey!Say!JUMP. He gave me a list of names, which included Hikaru & I, and he said, “What do you think?”
-What did you say?
I really didn’t know what to say, since Yamada (Ryosuke) and (Nakajima) Yuto and stuff were all younger than me, with Okamoto (Keito) I’ve never even spoken to him, once. It was also that influence my words could have on these people that made me unsure of what to say. Whatever I said could change all these lives. I could have told him that I wanted Hikaru & I to stay in Ya-Ya-Yah, but then again, if I didn’t take that opportunity and debut, I would’ve ended up waiting for years. All that went through my mind, and I just said, “Yeah…it’s…alright.”
-What made you say that?
I knew this was my turning point. Earlier, I did say that I wasn’t too focused on debuting, but that was when I realised that in my heart, there lay my strong will to debut.
After that, Johnny-san said to me that he wanted Hikaru & I to lead this group. We were always the little ones being minded by our senpais, and we have never done anything like taking leadership. There’s also how both Hikaru & I have always been the little one of the family too. I wasn’t sure if we could manage it ,but I knew we needed to.
-So it was a decision with determination.
I was delighted, yet I was in pain. I had mixed feelings about it, really. I was told that I was to tell no one, no matter how close they were to me, about debuting as Hey!Say!JUMP. No one from Ya-Ya-Yah, except for Hikaru & I, were to know about this. It was very painful to keep it from my members, who innocently knew nothing. When Hey!Say!7 was formed, we had a deep talk about how we needed to stay strong as a four. Just to hear about Hey!Say!JUMP right after that…
-That must’ve been really hard for you.
When someone debuts, at least tens of thousands more people get upset about it. Many hundreds, perhaps thousands of people dream of debuting. Being chosen means that you need to accept and move on with those feelings on your back. Being part of a group called Hey!Say!JUMP, I felt guilt towards the other two, and I was in pain myself. Even so, I knew that because I was chosen, because I am doing this, I need to do it at my best.
Guilt towards Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C., and Jrs
-JUMP’s debut concert was in Tokyo Dome, as I recall?
I don’t think the people who came were there because they loved Hey!Say!JUMP. Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C., and many Jrs performed at our concert. I’m sure they didn’t want to “visit Hey!Say!JUMP’s concert” I felt guilty of what we were making the Jrs go through.
I was good friends with Kitayama & Totsu as a Jr, and we used to eat out together, you know; a couple of times every week. That didn’t change a lot after my debut, but it was very sad thinking that somewhere in their hearts, their wish to debut made my existence uneasy.
-How did you feel about Kis-My-Ft2 & A.B.C-Z’s debut?
Oh I was extremely happy-as if it was happening to me. I’m pretty sure Kis-My-Ft2 & A.B.C-Z would kick me in the head if they heard me say this though.（笑）Yeah, I was very happy for them, and I felt rivalry. I think I texted Kitayama saying “Congratulations” when their debut was announced. He replied with something like, “We’re rivals even more from now on”.
-I’ve heard you went to A.B.C-Z’s debut concert.
Yep I did. In the MC, I think I said something like, “I love A.B.C-Z more than anyone here.” （笑）
I remember being envious of Hasshi (Hashimoto Ryosuke). I was really wanting to be in A.B.C-Z. But for one thing, I can’t do back flips, for the other, I’m Hey!Say!JUMP.（笑）Okay, well I’m joking, but then I did really envy Hasshi. I wanted to create something with the 4 big brothers of A.B.C. So when that was finally accomplished in the musical “SHE LOVES ME” I silently apologised to Hashimoto.
-Arioka (Daiki) -kun mentioned in last month’s interview that you were “Always the outliers”. I feel that JUMP has always been shouldering many things.
I think that’s very true. At countdown concerts, because we have members who didn’t spend a lot of time dancing behind our senpais, we did get the feeling that Hey!Say!JUMP was kind of …different from other groups. That difference is still there. Even now, I feel that our senpais don’t know us.
"Why was Yabu-chan there, then?"
-How did Hey!Say!JUMP’s bond grow to be strong?
I think the largest reason behind that is the number of times we do lives and concerts compared to other groups of the same sort of age. We had many occasions when we had the time where we sat down and discuss how we can make things better, how we can entertain the audience and let them have the time of their lives. It’s a repetitive, accumulative process. At first our dancing was all out of time and unless people like Hikaru & I told everyone to get up and carry on, we weren’t a very enthusiastic group. It was an accumulative process; the more we did it, the stronger our bonds became.
And also there was that senpai factor in our group too. Everyone treated me as their senpai. I didn’t really like it because they weren’t treating me as a member of the group, but as a senpai called “Yabu-kun”. I thought, that’s not right, so I’m going to do my best to be the group idiot. If I fooled around, everyone fooled around.
-So you were always acting for the best of your group.
Yes, but…I think that was a while after we debuted…one day our choreographer came to talk to me privately. He said, “Yabu. What you’re doing is important, you need to take those walls down within your group. But always keep in mind that whatever you do, the rest of the group follows. So whether it be the work itself, or general manners as an idol, you need to do properly and independently.” I felt responsible for the group.
-DId you tell off any members in particular?
I guess I was pretty strict towards Keito. Keito was young, and every time he got in trouble, he used to cry. I think his pride didn’t let him cry, really, so every time he did, he’d be like, “My head hurts, my head hurts.” It was pretty obvious.（笑）
-Any other members?
Well it was pretty bad when Takaki (Yuya) was in Gokusen. （笑）I knew he was putting a lot of effort into that drama and carrying out his role. But there were times when he was acting exactly like his role even in his private life and with JUMP. He wasn’t in Gokusen, but he was still glaring at all of us. （笑）The rest of the group would be doing something fun, while he’d be standing outside of the circle, alone. He’d be staring at us coldly. I thought, what if our staff, our fans saw this? They would most definitely think that Takaki is left out of the group; he’s not willing to be part of it. But he’s not like that. I know Takaki from when we were Jrs. He’s kind, he thinks of his peers, but he’s sometimes a bit of a chicken. I just knew that this wasn’t going to be good, neither for our group, or Takaki himself.
-What did you do about it?
I knew how he felt too. He worked with people who were not from JE, and he felt the need to widen his views. He was hanging out with the Gokusen members too. But if I didn’t think it through and just told him off, it would have made things worse, so I tried to ask Takaki out to eat, and when he was meeting up with the Gokusen crew, I just “happened” to join in. I joined in where I only knew Takaki.（笑）
-Was it effective?
I don’t know. I just hope that in a few years, he’ll realise that maybe, he was a bit weird back then. Like, “Why was Yabu-chan there, then?”（笑）Actually, he’s been mentioning things about back then lately.（笑）
-Did Okamoto-kun say anything?
Nah, he’s still trying. （笑）But that’s what’s good about him.
We went through so much, together.
-When do you feel grateful for the members in JUMP?
I felt that the strongest 2 years after we debuted, at Tokyo Dome, which was the last destination of our tour.
-What happened there?
Well, I was the first to speak for our closing speeches, ready to sing “Born in the EARTH”, and…as I spoke I saw the arena filled with people, I started to tear up…I never thought of crying, especially in front of our audience, because that wasn’t kakkoii. But then, I started crying, and I couldn’t stop.
-Why were you crying, do you think?
I think it’s the whole mumbo-jumbo of feelings coming out all together. When we first performed at Tokyo Dome straight after our debut, we could never pull the show off without the Jr’s, and our group was all over the place. In that moment, my memories flashed back through my mind. I knew that this time, these people were coming to see us. So many people were coming to see Hey!Say!JUMP. I was tearing up really badly I couldn’t talk, not even sing. Yeah…I still vividly remember that moment…I couldn’t stop crying.
-The other members were crying too, weren’t they?
They were. I realised we were all feeling the same, we went through so much, together. I could say from the bottom of my heart that I was grateful for these members.
How are we going to change
-Then, how did you feel when NYC debuted?
Well, I…when NYC debuted, I gave them a bunch of flowers in celebration. I felt that by being that person, Hey!Say!JUMP fans would feel comfortable to accept NYC.
-Any jealousy involved?
No way（笑） You know how Yamada debuted as a solo? Not one of our members had that sort of jealousy then. No one questioned why it was just Yamada, no one questioned why we couldn’t sing it as Hey!Say!JUMP, I don’t think that crossed anyone’s mind, even. I think we all knew that whatever Yamada does, his efforts will contribute to the success of the group. We were stimulated by him that we all need to do whatever we can to our best efforts, so we can all bring the group up. So, whether it be NYC’s debut, or Yamada’s solo debut, rather than jealousy, I think our group felt supportive for them.
We all started to think about how to spend our time. We realised that there wasn’t a day to waste. Making efforts for yourself eventually lead to the growth of the group. So we started to really feel that we needed to properly do things ourselves, not always relying on the group.
-It’s a good thing, then.
So, when we watch each other in our individual activities, at times we appreciate them, at times we watch them and go, “If I were them…” I think we all do that, really. Of course Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C-Z and Sexy Zone and all that are our rivals, but I believe that within our group, as individuals, we are all rivals. Like if one of us star in a drama, it’s supposed that the attention goes to that person. And, when that member is active as a member of Hey!Say!JUMP, it’s also supposed that there will always be people who never knew Hey!Say!JUMP until they realise that, that one individual is part of us. I think that’s the cycle that keeps us going.
-As in, get the attention, bring it back to the group.
Exactly. So when I see Yuto acting in “Hanzawa Naoki”, it really influences me to try harder.
-It sounds like a pretty good relationship to me.
Well, I was still called “Yabu-kun” by my members for a while though. It’s only recently, as in these 1-2 years that, that changed to “Yabu-chan” instead. Everyone except for Inoo & Hikaru called me Yabu-kun, but for some reason that changed before I knew it, really. I wasn’t a senpai anymore, I was part of the group. I think it’s a really good thing that I can stand level with the others. Having said that, I did kind of feel a little annoyed when Keito first started calling me “Yabu-chan”.（笑）
-Ahahaha. You really did think through all these things for the group.
I did say I was a baby, but then, after all, in the group I’m the eldest.（笑）
-Then did you consult anyone about your problems?
-All on yourself?
Well, it’s not like I said anything direct, but when we were required to make decisions, Hikaru’s existence was significant. I felt I wasn’t alone, that, I’m not the only one required to do these things. We’ve always been together, and we’ve been given similar roles within the group, so, even if we never spoke to each other about these things, the fact that Hikaru was there and I wasn’t the only one had helped me pull through. I was never alone in any turning point. I did say that I felt uneasy being called “YabuHika” but then, somewhere in my heart, I’m just embarrassed and I’m secretly happy about being called that. It’s like an honour.
-Finally, please tell us about your thoughts on JUMP in future.
Everyone is aiming to become a proudly presentable group, anywhere. As I said before, all our members know that every day counts. We share the thought that we all need to make the effort now. So, asking ourselves now and then, “How are we going to change? How can we change?” will definitely help us in bringing in positive changes. We are constantly questioning ourselves on what we lack. We’re like a whole block of positivity, so really, I can’t wait to see how we will be in the future.
That photo from preschool.
-So, what kind of kid were you when you were little?
A brat. And I mean it. I feel sorry for my preschool teachers and my parents for having to stand me back then.
-What did you do?
At preschool, I liked touching my preschool teacher’s boobs.（笑）
I made a lot of girls cry too.
-Is that like, you liked them so you felt the need to tease them?
Nah, it was more because I took my favourite toy away from the girl and my teacher there was like, “You took it because you liked ○○chan and you wanted her attention, right?” and I was like, “Nah-“ but then for some reason the girl was like, “Oh, is that so? Okay then.”
-So you were pretty wild.
Even in that group photo from preschool, I’m just that one rebellious kid who sticks out their tongue.
-You have a brother who’s 5 years older than you, right? Were you nice to each other?
I guess. But when we go shopping, I would be that kid who sings really loud, so he’d be like, “Please it’s embarrassing I don’t want to walk with you.”
-What kind of songs did you sing?
I sang a lot of songs by Matsuda Seiko-san.
-Then, what did you want to be when you’ve grown up?
I always wanted to be something different everyday. I loved watching documentaries, and whenever there’s something to do with host clubs and stuff, I’d be like, “I’m gonna be a host!” to my mum. But in the end, I think I just wanted to be where I am now. I mean, I was an attention-seeker all the way.
-Were there any stars you liked?
I’ve always liked Katori (Shingo)-kun.
-So you’ve always had an interest in show business.
Yeah. When I was little, there was a dance school in the local. One of my good friends went there, and I started going there too. But when I went, I was in a different class from my friends, and there were girls in leotards around me. I hated it. But that school happened to do some things associated with show business.
I’ve only heard this from my mum recently, but yeah, there was this one time when I got into trouble by this really strict staff member, and on the way home as I was crying I told my mum that I’ll become famous. It’s a pretty childish belief, that, you know, you think being famous won’t get you into trouble.
-And I’m guessing you were popular among girls at school?
To be honest with you-yeah. That was pretty much my height in popularity at school from girls. In the school book I was ranked first for most popular, after all.
I might disappear one day.
-You auditioned for JE at 12, right?
Yep, when I was in year 6. My friend who went to the same dance school became a Jr. That was how I got to know JE. I liked singing and dancing in the first place, so I just wanted to stand on that stage. I applied for the audition; I had nothing to lose anyway.
-So you weren’t expecting to pass?
Yeah. I was in the same audition as Chinen (Yuri). Johnny-san suddenly talked to Chinen & I and told us to go ask our parents if we can audition for a role in a movie.
-What audition was this?
It was an audition for “Ninja Hattori-kun”. They said Katori-kun was going to be in it, and I really wanted to do it, but when I excitedly called my mum, she told me I couldn’t while I attended the dance school.
Chinen was calling his mum next to me, and I remember him whining about having to do the audition-he really didn’t want to do it. I explained to Johnny-san about how I couldn’t audition, and he just said, “Okay then, contact me once that dance school’s over.” I thought I had no future in JE.
-What happened after that?
I didn’t do much for the next year, but then one day I saw the trailer ad to Hattori-kun, and Chinen was in it. I was like, “It’s that kid from the auditions!!” I quit dance school a while ago, so I called Johnny-san. I didn’t really think he’d remember me, but amazingly he did, and he told me to go to NHK the next day.
-it was so sudden then.
Didn’t even know my lefts and rights but I went, and I saw Kis-my-ft2 practicing on their roller skates. I had no idea what was going on, so I asked Senga (Kento) –kun a lot of stuff. At first he seemed a little flirtatious and dangerous but he was actually really kind. And I remember Miyacchi (Miyata Toshiya) grinning like hell asking me if I knew his name….I was like, “Sorry, I’m not too sure.” But he was all cool with it.
-How was it attending the rehearsal?
We were practicing HikaruGENJI-san’s song, and well, that day, they suddenly told me to be part of “J.J Express”.
I mean really. I was like, “what the hell is happening”. But reality was, at first, I wasn’t even sure if I was part of J.J Express. Like, at magazine shoots and stuff, Ino-chan & Yuto would be called on while I just sit there. I couldn’t stand proud and tell everyone that I was part of “J.J Express”. It was like I was some reserve.
-Did you think about debuting back then?
I was too busy doing the work that they gave us. J.J Express had this rapid exchange of members back then- like, Tamamori came in so suddenly and before we knew it, he was out. I saw that happening right in front of my eyes, so I’ve always been anxious that I might disappear one day too. It was like the hunger games.
-And after that, Takaki-kun added to the members of J.J Express.
Takaki was so easy going, so we naturally became pretty good friends. Yuto, Takaki & I were in (Doumoto) Koichi-kun’s stage, “Endless SHOCK”, and back then, we’d wrestle each other everyday before we went home.
-We see that from 2006 onwards, Yamada (Ryosuke)-kun also started working with J.J Express too.
I was pretty good friends with Yamada from a while before J.J Express. We went home together after work, and even though he was younger than me, he had this mature disposition, he had a good taste in fashion, and I constantly stuck to him.
-What did you guys talk about when you were going home together?
Nothing of value, really. We never talked about work. Oh, I remember! These scary people came up to us and they were like, “Yo what yo looking at me like that yo” and we went home crying. （笑）
-Interesting. We had the impression that J.J Express was sort of like an elite group within Jr’s.
Oh yes I do think we were privileged. …I really do. But it was always just luck. Our abilities were never up to the standards of the work we got. That was really something I had in my mind all the time. We really, could not do anything. Talk, nor sing, nor dance. Even the choreographer told us everyday that we were the worst group in history within JE. We were always the ones causing problems in rehearsals of “Shounen Club”, and we involved Ya-Ya-yah, Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C. in all our troubles.
-What were you thinking when you got into trouble?
I always thought that I’ll pay them back with the favour. I still think that.
Not enough strength in the eldest
-It’s the year 2007 and Arioka-kun, Takaki-kun, Yamada-kun, Nakajima-kun & Chinen-kun have formed Hey!Say!7.
Oh yeah. We were suddenly called on by Johnny-san during our rehearsal for KAT-TUN’s concert. He was like, “You guys, are Hey!Say!7.” I found the members pretty strange. It was that time when I finally met Chinen and we became pretty close talking about the audition. First we thought it was just some unit group formed for the tour, but we happened to sing the OP and ED for an anime, and soon we saw “Hey!Say!” as part of our Jr’s concerts.
-You guys must’ve been so happy.
We were happy, yes, but…it was complicated. It wasn’t like we’ve disbanded J.J Express, but we still worked as “Hey!Say!7”. It was like we pushed Ya-Ya-yah, Kis-my-ft2 and A.B.C. aside to dance in front of them. Yeah. It was just…complicated.
I was always really good friends with (Yaotome) Hikaru-kun, and we were always together…until Hey!Say!7 was formed. It was painful since I well understood how Hikaru-kun must’ve felt. Trying so hard, yet not being selected into the new group. It’s just…not very enjoyable.
-So how did Hey!Say!JUMP come to form then?
Takaki & I were mentioned of about this previously from Johnny-san. He said, “I’m thinking of making a group based on the members of Hey!Say!7, but I think the two eldest don’t have enough strength.”
-What were your feelings towards that?
I got a little upset. Especially because I knew. I knew very well that we weren’t strong players in our team. It was upsetting to know that we were reflected so in the views of other people too.
-And that new group was Hey!Say!JUMP.
I believe so. It was when we suddenly got a call that we had to meet up for a magazine interview. When I got to the studio, there was Yabu-kun, Hikaru-kun, (Okamoto) Keito… I was thinking, “what’s with these members? Oh, maybe it’s about that thing…” But I knew. Even our manager was like, “You get it, right? You need to be aware, Arioka.”
-When you guys first met as a group, what did you think?
Don’t know myself. I thought we had an infinite potential. Confidence without reason. I remember being overly excited about the formation.
-What were your opinions on the addition of Yaotome-kun & Yabu-kun?
It felt…reassuring. They were the two whom I looked up to.
But we were specifically told by our manager that it’s unofficial, so we must not tell anyone, as in, anyone. It was like I was carrying around some bomb. It was hard- not everyone from J.J Express was there, and I couldn’t explain to my members, I couldn’t tell my parents.
We were always the outlier. Always.
-I recall you saying that you wanted to be the connective bridge between 7 & BEST in your interviews earlier into your debut?
Our members were varying too much in age and career. Some members hadn’t even spoken to each other before. At first, I felt we were going to be pretty awkward. So I felt responsible to stand in the middle and try to tie the group together. It’s not like I went around and tried to forcibly tie up conversations, but I did try to inclusively eat out.
-Your debut concert was Tokyo Dome. You guys were the youngest to ever have a concert in Tokyo Dome. Any memories?
Honestly, I don’t remember anything. We were just trying, trying, trying. I mean, we did enjoy it; we did. But we couldn’t exactly afford to look around enough. Just…
Just that it was different from how I thought it’d be. We were really grateful towards Kis-my-ft2 and A.B.C. who came to perform, but at the same time it was hurtful to know that it doesn’t work without their help.
-I see. Did you find any pain in surpassing your elders, Kis-My-ft2 & A.B.C. on debuting?
Yes. I mean, those people who were your team until a few months ago, are now dancing behind you. You can’t tell them “Thank you” because it just sounds mean, and “sorry” is even worse. I couldn’t tell them anything.
I could tell what they were all thinking-it isn’t hard when you’ve been working with them 24/7. They were all thinking, “Why the hell do we have to be on their back?” Maybe I was a bit oversensitive. But they were definitely feeling something, and it was tough looking at their expressions. It’s only recently that we were finally able to let go.
-You were lonely.
Honestly, I was part jealous seeing how Jr’s were bonding together better after we debuted, and how the senpai’s were taking care of them. Jr’s did stages with Takizawa (Hideaki) –kun, and went on Tackey CHANnel and stuff. So, it was envious seeing them fooling around with senpai’s.
-Hard, isn’t it.
We were the outliers. We were always the outliers. Always.
-Had no home to belong to.
But then again, I felt that Kis-my-ft2 and A.B.C.-Z had a tougher time. So, every month when I read this 10,000 letter interview, I really felt that.
-It’s not like the loneliness of a forerunner, but I see you guys have been running with so much load on your backs.
Because things were going so steadily, people did think of us as the elites… but that too doesn’t come down so clean in my mind. It just…I felt that there’s got to be something wrong with that.
-And it was just the things you need to do piling in front of your eyes.
I genuinely did not know what to put effort into. I knew that I just needed to…try.
-What was your support?
My fans. We ended the 2009 tour at Tokyo Dome. This time, we were on our own; no A.B.C, no Kis-my-ft2. This time there were heaps of people. That was when it just hit me: this was the view I was looking for in Tokyo Dome. There were so many people supporting us. And in the last MC, when one person started crying, everyone started off. Until then we felt somehow scattered as a group, but I like to believe that, that day, it all fell into place.
“Just do it your way, Dai-chan. It’ll all be okay in the end!”
-Do you personally feel helped by your members?
Definitely. Like when we had our “SUMMARY” in Tokyo Dome city hall, when I was given a place to run by myself. It was that bit where each one of us performed tricks with our dogs-and well, it didn’t go too well in the rehearsal. I mean, trying to bind our members to work together is hard enough-let alone dogs. It’s not like the dogs listen to you, you know. （笑）
Even when it was only a few days until the actual stage, it didn’t go well. And I couldn’t participate in some of the rehearsals because I had a TV show to record. I got so anxious, and I stayed back alone on some days to try and get it right. Chinen texted me you know. He said, “Just do it your way, Dai-chan. It’ll all be okay in the end!” those words really saved me. I realized how I was trying too hard. I learnt to just relax and let it be. After all, the important thing isn’t to run it as precisely as possible, but to run it so that everyone has a good time.
-And we never knew.
Nope. I believe that my stance as an MC was created there.
-So on the contrary, is it pretty obvious when other members are down, or irritated?
Very obvious. I think it’s because we’ve been through good times and we’ve been through bad times together.
-Who get’s upset easily?
Humm…I guess Yamada. It’s probably because he’s has the most passionate attitude whether it be towards Hey!Say!JUMP, or towards work in general, and that means more to take in, more to think about.
-What do you say to Yamada-kun when he seems down?
Just go natural. I mean, we all know what the problem is, so it’s needless for words. We just go to a café and have a cup of coffee, sometimes we just sit in the terrace, not saying a word.
-You starred in “Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo” with Yamada-kun, right?
-But the theme song was sung by Yamada-kun alone. You were in it too-didn’t you have mixing feelings about that?
Ah, yes, because I automatically assumed JUMP was going to sing it. When it was decided he was going solo, we discussed it quite a lot. At first we were planning to go ask them to make it so that JUMP can sing it. But for Yamada this was an opportunity. A huge one even. So I decided that I’ll give him a gentle push to get him to do it. He was so concerned over it. I told him that he shouldn’t be concerned over us, and that he should go drill a wind cave for us.
-Then, what do you consider as a turning point in JUMP?
This is pretty recent, but yeah, I think the Asia tour we had. We were told that we might be able to have one. But one day when we were rehearsing, we were called on and they were just like, “So it’s been decided the tour will be called off. Okay guys go back to practice.” …not one person moved.
We all needed an explanation. And that was the first time we displayed our solid will towards something. I think it’s because when JUMP first debuted, some of us were still in junior high, and we were still reminiscent of that childish image. We always followed what the adults told us to do. And from the adults’ perspective, I guess they just thought the minimum would do. So it was the first time then when we had a whole discussion on it. We weren’t children anymore. We wanted to know what was going on, and we wanted to move on, on our will, not by others’.
-What triggered that change?
I think it’s just that sense of impending danger.
-You felt danger?
Definitely. We’ve been selling ourselves as the freshmen, but that had to be changed with Kis-my-ft2, A.B.C-Z & Sexy Zone’s debut, and we all felt it.
-You guys felt insecure with Kis-my-ft2 & A.B.C-Z’s debut.
We felt we couldn’t just stay inattentive. But we mostly felt thrilled. This was where the real battle was to start. When we first debuted, I’m sure they thought we couldn’t do anything. But that’s not true anymore. So much has changed since then from our attitudes to our experiences. Of course each group has its own thing. But don’t you underestimate us. I was happy we finally got to stand on the same stage.
-You briefly mentioned that it’s not until recently you could talk to Kis-my-ft2 and A.B.C.-Z without anything. Did something happen for you to be able to talk like that again?
Hmm…Well I think for A.B.C.-Z, it’s a huge factor how we were together for Johnny’s World for three months. It’s not like we’ve had that kind of DMT’s but we did talk to them about a lot of things. After that, when JUMP was running Shonen Club, Kitayama-kun suddenly talked to us.
-What did he say?
He said, if it were us, we’d be doing a better job at running this show. I’m pretty sure he meant it, and nothing of his expression or his tone told us that he meant is as a mean comment. It was more like a nudge to a rival. It was like we need not to think about anything anymore, we purely need to focus on stimulating each other.
I wasn’t wrong for my confidence without reason.
-Any personal turning points, then?
This is really recent, as in, June 2013 recent. It was that time when I was hit against with a wall. I mean, all the other members have instruments, or they can act. And I just thought…I had nothing. Nothing.
I travelled alone in hope for a change. I mean, if you go to an area you don’t know, whether you like it or not, you’ll be having to converse with people. I thought I may be able to grasp a sense of self there. So I planned nothing, went to Haneda Airport, and took the first flight possible. That just happened to be a flight to Kagoshima. And when I got to Kagoshima, I saw a sign to Yakushima. Yakushima’s one of those spiritual areas, so I got on a ferry and went there.
-Pretty active as I perceive.
By the time I got there night had already fallen, so I went around numerous lodges looking for accommodation…and I finally found one. I told them I wanted to go see the Yaku cedar, and they prepared an obento for me. The yaku cedar was located in the middle of the forest, and apparently it takes 5hrs on one way, 10hrs in total. They told me I needed to be off by 3, so I should take a bath and go straight to sleep.
-You prepared for the next day.
I felt the warmth of people’s hearts, and I really loved going there. It was then when I got a call from our manager…and I didn’t tell anyone about how I came following my heart, not telling anyone of my trip. My manager was like, “Hey, so we’ll have a meeting tomorrow with JUMP so make sure you come to this place at this time.” And I had no choice but to tell my manager that I was in Yaku-shima of Kagoshima. …Of course I got into trouble. My manager was like, “Come back right away!”
-And you went back without seeing the Yaku cedar?
I felt nothing would change if I didn’t go see it, so I told my manager that I really needed to see the cedar so I wouldn’t be able to participate in the meeting the next day and hung up.
After that call I sent a text to each member. I told them that I felt the need to change, so I’m on a trip on my own. I told them I couldn’t go back tomorrow, and that I’m sorry. I called Yamada after the text. I briefly told him of my plans, so it was okay. I kind of asked him if I should really be making an effort to go back, but he just said that I shouldn’t, because this trip should be of value to me. Those words hit me so strong that I cried.
-That was nice of him.
And even after the call, Yamada took a derp photo with his family and sent it to me, telling me to have fun. It brought me to tears again. I still have that text. I treasure it.
-What did other members say?
They said it was okay. But some members didn’t reply, and I thought it was reasonable for them to be angry at me. But then…when I saw them they were like, “So, how was it?” they were so kind.
-You’re gifted to have such a caring group.
I really think so too. I love everyone.
-I’m sure it didn’t come with immediate effects, but was your solo trip of some value?
Well, the first gig I happened to have after I came back from Yaku shima was the recording of a music show for “Come On A My House” and there a lot of people told me I looked different, as in, good-different. I know it’s a bit strange, but I did feel it was of some value, and it did come with effects. Most of all, I felt confident.
-What kind of confidence?
While I was walking on Yakushima for those good 10 hrs, I was just thinking. The pathway we’ve followed was filled with so many things, and there are probably going to be a lot more in the future, but I knew it wasn’t the wrong path we were following. I felt that, that excitement and that confidence without reason I felt when we first met wasn’t wrong at all. I felt we good keep moving on. I trudged on wanting to see my members.
-Finally, what were your happiest moments, or unforgettable moments as Hey!Say!JUMP?
Happiest and unforgettable…the debut concert is one, the Tokyo Dome we went for the second time is one, SUMMARY is another one. JOHNNYS’ WORLD is definitely one too. Every time we accomplish something big, I always group everyone together to have a photo. I didn’t want to forget the moment where we just managed to climb over a huge wall, and I felt that in this moment, we’ll have the best of expressions. Every time, what we felt was the happiest moment keeps on getting repainted. I guess it’s the feeling of joy in that moment of repainting that keeps on creating new moments. Together with the fans, together with the 9 of us.
Q. What’s something you got a little annoyed about recently?
When I wandered into a shop the other day, I got a little annoyed at the shopkeeper there who kept on talking to me. I mean, I do give them leeway against the fact that it’s their job to do that, but I’m the type of person who wants to be left alone when it comes to choosing clothes. Why? Because when they keep on insisting, I feel bad, and I end up buying them!
Q. Do you have moments when you feel you are so obsessed with something?
When I’m watching TV, and restaurants from my local come on. I get so excited! And also when I see the places I showed people on TV, I feel a little obsessive and excited （笑）
Q. Do you have any members who you accidentally act harsh against?
No one. I try to treat everyone equally, so really, no one. Anyway I’m not the one who can actually be strict towards people. Well, he’s not a member, but yeah, I am strict towards (Tanaka) Juri.
Q. Who is the strictest member in JUMP?
I guess it’s Hikaru-kun. When we’re rehearsing, and members start losing their concentration, he tries to get everyone back into rehearsing properly. I think he’s the kind of guy who is really adaptable and outspoken.
Q. What is your favourite spicy food?
Curry♡I can totally eat up a super spicy curry, and I love those ones that have beef in them.
Q. Any “sweet” occurences recently?
The other day, my 2-year-old nephew left a message on my phone. You can’t actually get what he’s saying, but he did kinda mention “Anpyanmya-n” and “can you buy-?” so I think it’s one of those begging messages. （笑）When he sees me, at first he’s all nervous, but then he starts showing me all these toys-and before I know it, it’s turned into a showcase of toys. （笑）
Q. When you feel you baby yourself too much.
When I eat too much of good stuff. I don’t usually go on diets, or limit my meals, but since we’re in the middle of tour at the moment, I try not to eat as much. Just that…when we go out to places we’ve never been to, I just pig out. （笑）
Q. Do you have any members you just baby automatically?
Chinen. There’s no particular reason, nor a particular example, but I do feel that in many occasions, I kinda let go just because it’s…Chinen.
Q. Who is the “sweetest” member in JUMP?
Maybe Yamada? He suits all those sweet words. And he seems the type to naturally put his girlfriend before himself when it comes to dates and stuff. Me? Oh, I’m just the one to act upon one’s will. （笑）
Q. What is your favourite sweet?
I don’t usually eat cakes, but the milk crepe that my friend gave me the other day was so damn good! And when I’m tired, I always go for that chocolate éclair that they sell in convenience stores.
The other day we sang two performances worth of karaoke!
Arioka: I recall the first time we ate together was at Hikaru-kun’s birthday.
Yabu: About 3 years ago.
Arioka: We happened to have a rehearsal that day, and we finished early so we were like, “wanna go?”
Yaotome: Yeah~ and it turned out to be so much fun.
Yabu: So we were like, we need to do this again.
Inoo: And I remember when we stepped out of the restaurant it was snowing and we were all so excited about it.
Yabu: It snowed on my birthday in January too!
Arioka: Yeah~ We were like “SNOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!”
Takaki: We had a snowball fight on the way back（笑）
Arioka: Yabu-chan forgot his bag that day, right?
Inoo: He thought he left it at home so he called but it wasn’t there-and he discovered he left it in the rehearsal room. （笑）
Takaki: Yeah, that was the first time I saw someone forget a whole bag. （笑）
Arioka: And we had a BEST Party in Okinawa too. （笑）
Inoo: My birthday!
Yaotome: We went to Okinawa for work-it was so much fun~
Yabu: The place we went to lent games, so we were playing them, and…
Arioka: We were told to be quiet by a waiter. （笑）
Inoo: The sea grapes were really nice too~
Takaki: Anyway, we hold BEST Parties at least once on each other’s birthdays.
Arioka: These days we couldn’t really meet up because of work, but the other day we managed to find time and we had a birthday party. With Takaki organizing it.
Takaki: I’m not good at calls like that though…
Inoo: Yeah, you were stuttering a lot. We were like, wait… he isn’t too used to it either? （笑）
Yaotome: You were like, oh, um, My name is Takaki.
Arioka: Like, “I’m not TakaGI but TakaKI.” （笑）
Yabu: And we have stuff we only talk about in BEST Parties.
Takaki: Yeah, that’s where we get to know each other’s private lives.
Arioka: We get so into it, that the main dish is more like a side dish to our conversation. （笑）
Yaotome: And it’s a classic where we ask each other our types. （笑）
Arioka: Yep. And no matter what the answer, we don’t judge them.
Inoo: Yeah, and we don’t ever actually disagree with each other in these conversations.
Yabu: And we’re all listening to each other as if it were ourselves. （笑）
Takaki: And that’s why we seem to be able to tell each other everything.
Arioka: As if it’s some counselor.
Yaotome: Yeah, cause we get really excited and then it finishes.
Arioka: We even went karaoke the other day. I asked if we could go karaoke after eating, but then no one was really willing, so I kinda took Takaki with me…and then it ended up with all five of us going.
Yabu: I mean, if someone’s going we get curious. （笑）
Yaotome: We were like, okay, just an hour.
Inoo: And I was just waiting to go home, at least while the trains were still going…
Yaotome: And we ended up singing two performances worth. （笑）
Takaki: We’d all put in songs we want to sing, and we’d all sing them.
Yabu: When we put “Score” in it came out with “Lyrics by Yabu Kota, Rap by Yaotome Hikaru” and we were all clapping. （笑）
Arioka: Then…do you guys want to make a song list for our readers?
Yaotome: Score has to be the end, even though we sang it first the other time.
Arioka: The first song should be “Suriru(Thrill)” and then since we go crazy over it, “Ganbaretsugo” for the third, maybe?
Yaotome: Then how about the second be “School Days”?
Yabu: Sounds good~
Takaki: We sang a lot of 7 songs too, the other day.
Yaotome: “GET” was so much fun! GET~*all five of them start singing* OH YEAH-!（笑）
Yabu: So the fifth should be “Mystery Virgin”!
Inoo: That was actually a lot of fun the other day too. I mean, we were all like, “Mys~te~ry~♪”
Takaki: And there were people dancing to it.
Arioka: Which means, we need to put Takaki’s “Oretachi no Seishun” into it somewhere too.
Inoo: We sang “Wonderland Train” the other day too, right?
Yaotome: Yeah! So we put that in, and maybe make the 9th song UMP?
Yabu: What about the 8th song then?
Inoo: Romeo & Juliet?
Arioka: Sounds good~…we sang them all the other day. （笑）
Inoo: That was like, the first time ever that we all got so excited even in the after party.
Arioka: After we were dismissed, I was walking with Ino-chan, and he was like, “Ah~ So much fun~okay, see ya.” （笑）
Takaki: Cause it’s actually like some friendship group. We always see each other, but still, we party up as if it’s been a year.
Yaotome: I guess our relationship can be far deeper than just friends. Since we can talk face to face about work.
Arioka: Yeah, and when we went to Thailand for work, we had a BEST Party in Pattaya too. （笑）
Yaotome: it wasn’t anyone’s birthday, we just ate!
Arioka: And that time, Ino-chan and I even went to check out the place beforehand. （笑）
Inoo: I want to do one of those, “in some-overseas-place” thingy again! It’s so much funn!
Yaotome: Yeah, and when we talk, we’re super loud so we need a place where there’s actual rooms.
Yabu: Or outdoors. （笑）Maybe we can go camping! We’d go to some huge supermarket and we’ll buy stuff there, and since we can all drive, we’ll take turns driving.
Arioka: Ino-chan’s good at organizing locations, and Takaki can organize food.
Takaki: And it’s also interesting how in BEST Parties we can see each other’s true personality…
Arioka: We’re like, oh…（笑）
Yaotome: Remember, no disagreements in BEST Parties!