Very intimate interview to Suzuka Nakamoto was published on her Graduation Photobook released on Abril 15 of 2013. She talks about her stay in Sakura Gakuin sinces the early days until her graduation. Her point of view, her last year as President Council, and what she thinks about others think about her. Very intimate and emotional interview with the charismatic, talented and beautiful Suzuka Nakamoto.
Suzuka Nakamoto: "I mean, when interviewers asked “What has the president been like?”, they only talked about my weird episodes"
Q: I heard form a teacher that Su-chan knew the Sakura Gakuin opening just before it got started.
Suzuka: "That’s right. The audition (selection lesson) began in the summer when I was in 6th grade, but I wasn’t informed the details. I thought it was a lesson in which we learn set pieces, train our voices and dances, and perform them once in a month (in Tokyo).So I took it lightly, like “Oh, I can meet the members.” But I lost contacts suddenly from the end of the summer. I got phone calls from some members “We had a lesson today”, so I thought “What?” “Oh well, I can’t help it cause I live in Hiroshima.” Then I was told “we are going to describe the opening of Sakura Gakuin. Would you come to Tokyo?” just after the beginning of the year."
Suzuka: "Yes, like “Wow, what’s going to happen?” Then I was asked if I wanted to join Sakura Gakuin."
Q: Did you feel any gap with the other members in Tokyo? You had come from Hiroshima.
Suzuka: "I often did, especially when it started. I couldn’t go to the lessons most of the time including the first choreography lesson. So I had them send videos to practice by myself, but I mastered them mirrored and had to do it over from scratch. Sometimes I thought it would be bothering for others….Besides I hadn’t met the members for 6 months before the opening and they were already getting along well, so…."
Q: You felt a distance?
Suzuka: "Not so much, though… umm… I had to go home alone."
Q: When did your feeling change?
Suzuka: "The elder three (Ayami Muto, Ayaka Miyoshi, Airi Matsui) game me the chance. In the early times we were often divided into the Jr. High group and the elementary group, thus the four, Ayami-chan, Ayaka-chan, Airi-chan and Su- were often together. They took care of me and taught me studies since I was the youngest among us. I was so glad and happy."
Q: Then Sakura Gakuin became active. Would you tell us any unforgettable incidents in the early Sakura Gakuin?
Suzuka: "My first late coming is unforgettable. Lol. On the day of TIF (Tokyo Idol Festival 2010), the first stage for Sakura Gakuin, I and Nene-don(Sugisaki Nene) got late badly. While Airi-chan and Ayaka-chan went out (of their dormitory) earlier, we were sleeping because we were supposed to arrive the venue later. Nene-don woke me up but I fell asleep again. Then she routed me out, forced to put my cloths on and pulled me out."
Q: By a teacher?
Suzuka: "By Nene-don. She got mad at me “Hurry up!”, but still I was half asleep. Then I got a phone call from a teacher and finally woke up. I was responsible to answer in those cases cause I’m elder, but obviously Nene-don was more matured at that time. (laugh)"
Q: What happened after that?
Suzuka: "We got scolded severely. Everyone was nervous for the first stage but we two didn’t show up. Besides Nene-don forgot the shoes we were suppose to bring. So the teacher said “Go back and get it!!” (laugh)"
Q: It should have happened.
Suzuka: "After the TIF stage, Nene-don was called to a room and scolded, maybe for her forgetfulness. Four members were waiting for her (including Su-). The other 3 were talking as usual like “Is Nene-don alright?” But I was thinking “I was the other one who were late…”. I can’t forget the unsettling feeling for not being scolded. (laugh)"
Q: Still the first stage was successful.
Q: So that was the memory of 2010, how about 2011?
Suzuka: "The recorder (English flute) one, maybe. In Gakuinsai (Sakura Gakuin Festival 2011) we performed recorders. At the beginning Rinon (Isono) couldn’t play at all, Su- was next to her giving her encouragements. A couple of days later we had a test in which each member play a recorder taking turns. Though I played with confidence, I was said “do over”. I realized it later, I was changing my finger positions without holding my breath so that all notes sounded connectedly. Looking back from now I think I did it so weirdly, but I felt “Why do over?” I was confident at that time. I remember Su- and Moa-chan(Kikuchi) had to do it over. The teacher said something like “We won’t let you perform it on stage if you couldn’t fix it.” I felt deeply disappointed and ran off the lesson room. (laugh) Everyone there followed me worrying like “Are you O.K.?”"
Q: That happens in youth.
Suzuka: "Right, but I didn’t want them to see me crying. Isn’t that awful? I would look like a loser. (laugh) So I said “Never come in!” and closeted myself in a room."
Q: Is Sakura Gakuin strict?
Suzuka: "Hmm…I think it’s like an ordinary school. But sometimes we were said “We won’t let you perform this song cause it hasn’t reached the level it should be” and “We gonna change the set list (the song order), do you know what it means?“, “You are an artist on stage.”"
Q: Then Ayami Muto, Ayaka Miyoshi and Airi Matsui graduated at March 25 2012.
Suzuka: "I wanted to graduate with them at first. (laugh)"
Suzuka: "I didn’t like to be left alone. Those three were always looking forward, thinking about their future after the graduation, and I felt like I was left behind."
Q: It’s a rule of Sakura Gakuin to graduate when you graduate from Jr. High. When did you have a real feeling of their graduation?
Suzuka: "We had the first media interview as nine members around 9th April. We held an evaluation meeting after that again. Lol. At that time, I had a strong sense of “I must do”. So did the four Jr. High 2nd graders. All of us tried to take control, all of us tried to speak, and Jr. High 1st graders and Rinon were left behind. I realized how important the three (graduates) were at that moment. I guess I had a feeling of “things gonna work out somehow” somewhere in my mind until then. But I got stuck in the helpless situation and I didn’t know how to take control. If I tried, I would be said “You are not the student council president yet” and felt flustered. Su- was similar to Marina-chan (Horiuchi) who can only warn someone kindly. So I was wondering “What should I do…”. Rau-chan(Raura Iida) noticed Su-‘s impatience and took control of the situation instead. Though it went better, that made me impatient more… just like that."
Q: However, the members chose you as the president. Many people change once selected, right?
Suzuka: "I agree. Still it was so hard in the beginning. I thought “Come to think of it, I haven’t known each member well …” I had been acting as I liked before. I didn’t feel lonely that much being alone, and I talked when I needed someone with me. Thus I decided to begin with understanding them better. I set up personal interviews and others."
Q: To my impression, you began to warn them clearly since you became the president.
Suzuka: "Since around TIF (Tokyo Idol Festival 2012). We held an evaluation meeting two days before the stage, as usual. Lol. It was the last day of full-member practice because each of us was busy before that, though… (ex-president) Ayami-chan was good at creating a tense atmosphere. She is a person who can’t allow improper attitudes. Once she made the atmosphere, everyone felt and followed her. But Su- is not like her and the members also know Su- doesn’t get angry. There might be a lack of tension somewhere. They might be just tired of summer heat too. When I said “Let’s start practice”, someone said “It’s bothering”. I couldn’t say anything to that, wondering “What should I do…” But I couldn’t take an action. Then a teacher called me and said “Talk out what you all want to do in Sakura Gakuin now.” I talked to them “I can’t understand your attitudes, why you don’t practice seriously if you want to perform on stage. Do you think it’s alright to act like that while many people are working for us? Why don’t you quit if you don’t want to? , harshly for the first time."
Q: Then they understood what you meant.
Suzuka: "I thought “I might say too much…” at first. So I asked Moa-chan and Yui-chan in Babymetal , “I feel I’m talking in a condescending attitude lately…” They said “We have never thought like that, your warnings are rather helpful.” I felt Sakura Gakuin was united at the end of the summer. All of them became to believe in Su- and I really appreciated it. So it went smooth until Gakuinsai (Sakura Gakuin Festival 2012), we were not scolded. We’ve rarely spent time without being scolded. (laugh)"
Q: You said “until”…
Suzuka: "I feel sorry for the fans who came to see the first day, but I couldn’t be satisfied with the performance. Thinking back, we were not a team on that day. There was a substantial awareness gap between the transferred members and the seniors, and the seniors also couldn’t support them enough. Each member thought about only herself. For example we couldn’t make eye contacts on the stage even though we tried hard. Each of us was filled with her own affairs. So we talked after the first day. I said “We have never been scolded for choreography. Why do we care so much about it? Isn’t it more important to enjoy performing than taking care too much of it? Thus we really enjoyed the second day."
Q: Sakura Gakuin has a meeting every time it has a trouble.
Suzuka: "Exactly. We are never satisfied ourselves without solving it. We have quarrels because we give ourselves away each other, but I feel we trust each other."
Q: Do you have any anxieties for your leave?
Suzuka: "Nothing special. I was told “worry about it.” (laugh) The Jr. High 2nd graders began to worry about Su- at this time of the last year. Looking back, I haven’t often thought “It’s so hard” thanks to the members’ support. Conversely I might be the cause of troubles. They might carry the burden named “Su-. (laugh)"
Q: The burden? (laugh)
Suzuka: "I mean, when interviewers asked “What has the president been like?”, they only talked about my weird episodes. I’d like them to say “She’s been an excellent president” as they did for Ayami-chan. As a hope, I want them to say something good at the very end, but it’s “opposite sox.” (laugh)"
Q: However, they wouldn’t say such stuff unless they trust and recognize you from the bottom of their hearts, right?
Suzuka: "Is that so? I feel I have been a president who got laughed at all the time. (laugh)"
Q: What do you hope for the next Sakura Gakuin?
Suzuka: "Ayami-chan generation’s had their own color and Su-‘s had Su-‘s color, I guess, so I hope the four next 3rd graders to have their color only they can generate. It’s O.K. as it is, but I hope it changes in some way. If Sakura Gakuin didn’t change, I would definitely feel regretful. To be honest, I don’t want to graduate from Sakura Gakuin. But once it changes, I could see it objectively. When it changes enough to do so, I’ll become a fan of Sakura Gakuin."