Interview

Interview with AKB48 at Japan Expo

28/07/2009 2009-07-28 00:01:00 JaME Author: Jerriel & Sofi2311 Translator: Ruka

Interview with AKB48 at Japan Expo

AKB48, guests at the tenth Japan Expo, shared their time with JaME to answer our questions.


© AKS - JaME - Sophie Surmont
Before their show at Japan Expo, three of the girls from idolgroup AKB48 took the time to chat with us about their beginnings, their hobbies, France, their goals and more. This was the first time for the girls to perform abroad.


Hello, could you introduce yourselves and tell us about the concept of AKB48?

Moeno: I am Moeno Nito of Team B.

Sayaka: I am Sayaka Akimoto of Team K.

Tomomi: I am Tomomi Kasai of Team K.

Sayaka: We make up the group AKB48, which comprises three teams: A, K and B, taken from the area Akihabara in Tokyo. We take turns performing there every day.

What motivated you to try out at the auditions and join the group?

Tomomi: I was approached in the street by the recruiters. They talked to me about the group. I was interested, and they invited me to the auditions.

Sayaka: Basically, I wanted to sing and dance, that kind of thing, but I didn't really know exactly where I was headed. Then I realized that a group like AKB48 could really offer me that kind of opportunity, and the possibility to learn to do multiple activities.

Moeno: Personally, I saw the adventure of AKB48 as something that could become an extraordinary experience.

How did you feel when you learned you were selected, out of millions of other candidates? In your opinion, what is it you have that others don't?

Tomomi: The second part of that question is difficult! I don't know what to tell you! (laughs) When they suggested I come participate in the audition, I didn't really have expectations about that group, like the other girls had for example. The day of the try out, I saw heaps of contestants who danced much better than me, I was pretty bad actually. So as to the reason they picked me, I can't really tell you. (laughs)

You all met each other forming the group. How did that encounter come about? And how did you welcome the new recruits?

Sayaka: With regard to that, we all share the same stage, so we've established some really good relations between us. It's a relationship of equality, not like the usual kohai/senpai (junior/senior) structure. Of course the older members try to take charge over the newcomers to some extent, but on the stage, we're all equal to one another.

Working with so many others, does that ever create rivalries?

Tomomi: Rivalry has a positive effect on the group. In terms of competence, we try to surpass each other, but without any animosity.

Your evolution with AKB48 has given you, as you said, the opportunity to experience many different activities, like singing and dancing in live shows and promotional videos. What is it you enjoy the most, and why?

Tomomi: I have the most fun doing lives. And I'll also say dancing.

Sayaka: I can't really say which I like the most. But generally speaking, I'd say I'm most interested in putting myself in front of an audience.

Moeno: Before joining the group, I was a very timid person. Appearing in public and being photographed has helped me get over certain apprehensions, and now I really enjoy doing the lives.

Between rehearsals, lives, recordings and promotion, you have a very packed time table. Where do you find all this energy? Isn't it difficult to reconcile work with your personal lives?

Tomomi: Since we're always together, even outside of our working hours, ultimately our professional lives and personal lives coincide surprisingly well. It's in these friendships that I get my everyday energy and motivation.

What do each of you do in your free time?

Tomomi: On my off days I stay at home; it's peaceful. I relax, I eat, I have dinner with my cat. (laughs) That kind of thing.

Sayaka: I like taking walks, looking for good restaurants where I can eat alone. (laughs)

Moeno: I have a dog at home that I spend time with when I get home. We play together, or nap together.

What kind of music do you listen to, and which artists do you like?

Tomomi: I love the group SPEED. When I go to karaoke, I sing SPEED's songs.

Sayaka: Michael Jackson. (laughs) And also Madonna.

Moeno: I listen to SID a lot.

Do you ever sing your own pieces in karaoke?

Tomomi: Yes! (laughs)

Sayaka: Doing the choreography with it. (laughs)

Do you think of your popularity as a privilege? How does it affect your everyday lives, and your relationships with others?

Tomomi: I don't feel like a celebrity, but I'm happy if people think of me that way. I'd love to become someone really well-known, even though it's difficult at the moment to impact people as an individual, being in a group like AKB48. Very few people know our names, we just make up a single entity.

With respect to what you just said, have you already started thinking about your life after AKB48? Would you like to pursue a solo career, or go in a completely different direction?

Tomomi: Everything I'm doing with the group is so interesting for me, I never think about the future. For now, I just think about giving myself entirely to the group. But when I find something that will suit me in the future, when it's time for me to leave AKB48, I'll try to point myself in a new direction.

Sayaka: AKB48 gives us a chance to do lots of activities, like singing and even comedy. I'd like to continue in that vein, and as much as possible, to become popular abroad.

Moeno: The same goes for me. I'd actually like to keep doing all that I'm doing right now. The best thing that could happen for me now, would be for the audience to remember my name, or my face. But for the moment I want to keep progressing with AKB48.

You're here today for your first time abroad, in France. What are your first impressions of the country, and what are your expectations with regard to Japan Expo?

Tomomi: Paris is a magnificent city, a place I've always dreamed of coming to. To be able to do a concert here is really incredible. I can't imagine the number of people we'll be introduced to here. Actually, we haven't even seen the stage we'll be playing on yet. There are still a lot of questions not yet answered, but I hope the audience can appreciate us.

Sayaka: To finally see Paris with my own eyes is an extraordinary thing for me. I'm really excited about the idea of doing the concert tomorrow, and even if we don't speak French, I hope we'll be able to convey our joy to the audience.

Moeno: Coming to Paris is a dream I've had for a long time too, something so far from my everyday activities. It's really unbelievable that I'm here today. The French people I've met so far have all been so kind, I could really feel close to them. I hope our communication with the audience tomorrow can be equally effective, and that the concert will be a success.

If you had the time, what would you like to do or visit?

Sayaka: So far, we've seen the Eiffel Tour. It's gigantic! We'd also like to make a trip to the Louvre or the Château de Versailles (Castle of Versailles), but unfortunately I don't think we'll have enough time.

Do you have a final message for our readers

Sayaka: Through Japan Expo and other kinds of conventions, I hope that France and Japan can continue to bring our cultures together and strengthen our mutual understanding. I imagine many people will be discovering us thanks to this interview, and I hope you will try listening to our music and continue to support us.


JaME would like to thank the group AKB48 for their time, and Japan Expo for allowing this interview to take place.
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