Yui Mizuno, Moa Kikuchi, Hana Taguchi and Yunano Notsu were interviewed for Sakura Gakuin Graduation Photobook. The girls share their impressions from their very beginnings as Sakura Gakuin students, Suzuka Nakamoto as Students President, apperances with BABYMETAL, their graduation from Sakura Gakuin and finally their dreams for the future. Read the interview translated below!
Yui Mizuno, Moa Kikuchi interviewed for their Sakura Gakuin Graduation Photobook
Q: Kikuchi san and Mizuno san , although it was announced only in Aug 2010 that you will be transfer students, you were already attending lessons together with the other Sakura Gakuin members after the school's opening in April right.
Mizuno: Yes. I was doing dances and etc. with the 4 girls who graduated last year.
Kikuchi: When I first heard of that, I thought " I dislike being a transfer student..". Since we practised together as fellow peers, I thought that we could start together. But, the 8 members other than Yui and Moa were announced first. Well,since the feeling of "it will be good if I can enjoy doing it" was greater, and that we were the first generation of transfer students, now I feel glad about it.
Mizuno: Yui also wants to quickly enter Sakura Gakuin and join in the activities, but if I can be together with my admired Ayami-chan and Suu-chan, that alone made me satisfied.
Q: Your impressions of each other?
Mizuno: I can't really remember well.
Kikuchi: When did we first meet?
Mizuno: I don't know since when, Moa was always next to me.
Q: That is how the "YuiMoa" combination came to be.
Kikuchi: It was a strange feeling
Q: How was the first stage performance? (Tokyo Idol Festival 2010)?
Mizuno: At that time I was gachigachi (tense and stiff), and when standing on stange my face and muscles were bikubiku (shaking with nervousness). But I understood that I needed to continue smiling. I was dokidoki(nervous/anxious) while only doing that, I have lots of memories of the 10 of us being complete on that stage. At that time, we only had Yume ni Mukatte, so with this 1 song, I focused on pouring my efforts into how well I can perform this song to the audience. I remember vividly the words "at the end, let's display the flags perfectly!" and about how much we practised before the performance.
Kikuchi: Moa was also overly nervous at the first stage event. I went out with my hair rubberband tied around my hand, which was really embarassing. Even though Sakura Gakuin had only 1 song, I was very happy that we were allowed to performon the main stage. though I was small, I understood how blessed I was and thought a lot about how well we can deliver the performance of that 1 song.
Q: How was the first independent performance (Sakura Gakuin festival 2010)?
Mizuno: Hello Ivy, School days and others were added, including various things like club activities and a play, it was very hectic. After it was all over, all I had was memories of how much fun I had!
Kikuchi: Moa totally could not dance, and also never sang before, so at first I didn't know what I should start working on. Being noutenki (frivolous and simplistic) I also did not try to rush into things (Laughs). But, during the lessons towards the festival, everyone had cried etc. it was then, during those periods where our bonds tightened. Moreover, we were watched by many people.Since we had only appeared before on TIF stage, I did not expect that people would gather for our live. I only can have gratitude for that.
Mizuno: Ayami chan and Ayaka chan extended the lessons for us. They transmitted burning feelings towards the festival to us (literal translation. it meant to motivate), Yui from there onwards, also did her best to follow through without dragging her feet.
Q: "MoaYui" is small, but they are able girls, was the impression of both of you at that time. At interviews, you were able to give fantastic comments.
Mizuno: Eh... but that was also quite a frantic thing I think.
Kikuchi: During those days I felt that I could freely say what I want. When I progressed in the school years, there are thoughts about "I want to let the juniors say this", and wanting to entrust them more. when small, you can do many things without feeling ashamed right. but now ,the feeling of being embarassed..
Q: There is?
Kikuchi: Yes there is! (Laughs). So that is why, even though things that I cannot do has increased, I don't think I have changed much from the past. When I look back at myself from long ago, sometimes I would think "that was kawaii".
Mizuno: Yui also, can speak from that position about the things in the past. Now, i'm more afraid of failures. Especially in 2nd year onwards, I was enthusiastic about having to become more like an elder sister! after the transfer students entered, I thought that I had to pull it together, and there were thoughts like "I can't fail.." and "should I say this or not?" , I became considerably unable to say things. But, when I became a year 3, having experienced many things, My thoughts became more like "even if there is failure, we will grow from it and be able to show that next time, that is Sakura Gakuin". On that note, I am finally able to progress in my behaviour.
Q: How did you feel about welcoming the new transfer students?
Kikuchi: Honestly, the period of the year when i entered was a very precious year for me with the others, so i had "if the transfer students came in and our relationships collapsed what should i do..?" Kind of feeling. When i first heard of rumours about new transfer students, i was absolutely shocked. However, being a transfer student myself, i couldn't really say it out.
Mizuno: It was because as the 10 of us progressed and overcoming walls from back when Sakura Gakuin only had 1 song that we shared bonds with one another. Everyone had this strong feeling about "I only want to work as us 10 people". That we won't need transfer students and "It is alright to remain as the 10 of us". Yui also thought this way. However, Hana and Rinon were not dragging or slowing us down in lessons and were focusing very hard. They were even dancing during break times.
Kikuchi: They were very hardworking.
Mizuno: During this period,as we were quite used to this life, we had a slack/chill atmosphere among us. But seeing the transfer student working so hard, Yui-tachi (we) realised that we cannot continue being like that. So, our motivation switch was turned on.
Kikuchi: That is why we cannot help but acknowledge them. I think that as both of them were were putting in their best efforts, that the rest of us were also able to grow.
Q: On the actual day of the announcements, July 2011 (Sakura Gakuin 2011 Nendo New Departure), 3 of you took over Mini Pati. How was it?
Kikuchi: Mini Pati Had become pretty bigthat's why it was changing to second generation. It was only marina-chan that had become big (Laughs). So i thought, "it seems i couldn't enter..". I felt that I wanted to do it, but the dance moves were hard and i didnt have the interest of following and understanding them. However, it was decided that the 3 of us take over.
Taguchi: I thought that it would be nice if i could take over the group on the day that i transferred in. During the judging period when i auditioned for amuse, i was performing songs from mini pati, and subsequently, I had become part of the group myself. When the ceremony was over, i saw the 3 of us crying and thought "what should i do..?"
Kikuchi: Furthermore, even though the first generation minipati had performed "princess ala mode" only once before, they were bound to change members, so i felt sorry for that.
Taguchi: However, if i were to graduate and had to hand over Mini Pati, I definitely do not want to.
Mizuno: Me too.. i do not want it to change.
Kikuchi: Shall we stop teaching the dance? (Laughs)
Taguchi: To me, at the first TIF (2011) even though we were allowed to perform solo as Mini Pati, our choreography was too messy and not properly put together,so i assembled usearly and practised a lot.
Kikuchi: We got scolded badly.
Taguchi: To get scolded as Mini Pati is something that would not happen now. But to get to this point, I am glad that we put in our efforts during those times.
Q: At the 2011 Nendo Graduation ceremony, it was the first time you were seeing of the graduates.
Mizuno: Yui thought that even though there was a graduation system, it was fake. However when the graduation ceremony was confirmed, it came to me that "they were really going to graduate..". "Yui admires Karen Girls, and wants to become Karen Girls!" with these thoughts I auditioned for Sakura Gakuin, so there were strong feelings about Ayami-chan not being here anymore. Ayaka-chan was like a real sister to me, always affectionate to me and I consulted her on many things. Airi-n always stood on my side having the same goals, almost like being with someone of the same age and did not always fuss about me(like an elder). So when these 3 are gone, can't help but feel lonely. "don't want to do the graduation ceremony!" was what i thought during that time.
Kikuchi: If you were to ask me "what is the biggest impression that Sakura Gakuin left in me", I would answer "the first graduation ceremony". I also thought that there was no graduation ceremony. Even though sensei were saying it, i thought that surely there will be a high school level. However, there wasn't. I didn't want to take the blow.
Q: How was it like on the welcoming side?
Kikuchi: After the graduation ceremony, because had soul drawn out kind of feeling, did not really have the mood to welcome the new transfer students. However, like with Hana and Rinon that time, this feeling soon vanished.
Mizuno: On the contrary, i was looking forward to it.
Kikuchi: That year's transfer students were 3 people, (with Ooga , Mariri) I had the impression they were always being together. It could be that it's because they are all transfer students.
Notsu: It might just be a convenient way of thinking, but "idols definitely have two sides to them (two-faced)" (Laughs). Especially for moa-chan right? so i thought (Laughs).
Kikuchi: I was told that, at first (Laughs).
Notsu: On the stage she was always shining, and it would be amazing if that was the case all the time. So, i was scared and didn't want to try talking to her. Also, the atmosphere was... This was after i asked Nene-don but, during that time, "wouldn't it be strange to have any one of us as the student council president? Suu might be the eldest, but she is not the president" - teachers told them. So everyone was "I will become class president" with this feeling became tense. That atmosphere was also scary (Laughs).
Taguchi: Nope, Hana and Rinon wasn't really thinking of anything. (Laughs)
Kikuchi: We were all told "think about your student council president's greeting speech and come" for the transfer ceremony. of course, i continued thinking it couldn't be me, but i once considered "if i became president , then how...?" (Laughs).
Taguchi: Hana and Rinon didn't really think about composing that. because, if it were us it would be strange (lol).
Notsu: So, i thought i shouldn't try to converse too much. Things that we didn't understand we resolved only among us transfer students of our own accord, so we remember many wrong things. Then, Suu-chan told us "don't keep it amonst yourselves, ask us". From then on, slowly we became able to speak to one another.
Mizuno: Up until then, it felt like there was a wall between the 3 transfers and the other members, and it was Suu-chan that helped to break that wall. After Suu-chan was selected as Student council president, she became proactive in listening to each one us. To Yui, she asked "anything you are concerned/bothered with now?", so i talked to her about my concerns and troubles etc. In this manner, Suu-chan was able to properly grasp the current situation, and so she searched for and showed me things that i couldn't see myself, and in summer, around the time of TIF the 12 of us became as one, 2012 nendo's Sakura Gakuin then became complete.
Q: So you also wanted to do club activities.
Notsu: Yes. At first, i was told by sensei "you will audition for tennis club". I thought to myself "why can i enter the tennis club?". I was bad at singing and dancing so i thought it was improbable that i could pass, but i was happy getting into a club.
Kikuchi: For Moa it should still be the 2011 Nendo Graduation ceremony. On stage Ayami-chan said "Marshmallow" (Laughs), she said some things that were not idol-like right? Subsequently, i think that the feeling of "wanting to make the customers enjoy" appeared then. Besides, as idols we don't get to talk much about unusual stuff. However, because Ayami-chan said so,i think that i will be able to say things like "O De Bu (fat)". So like this, my boundaries were expanded and i am very grateful to Ayami-chan for that, and I thought that I would also want to expand boundaries by myself.
Mizuno: Yui also, if it was a live event it is 2011 nendo graduation ceremony. but earlier you mentioned "Juniors" right. Then, Ayaka-chan came to mind. Yui had many worries stacked up. So i mustered up my courage and spoke all of it to Ayaka-chan. Then, from her mail "I'm sorry i couldn't make out Yui's whereabouts. However, because i am your ally, i will always be by your side." I was on my way home but, when i read this message i started to cry, it was a happy cry. The feeling of relief after seeing that message is unforgettable.
Q: After becoming 3rd years, did you immediately become self-conscious about the fact that you are in your final/most senior year?
Mizuno: Graduate students were always saying "The time from becoming a 3rd year till graduation really passes in a blink of an eye". Everyone was saying "don't leave any regrets". So Yui is cherishing each day that passes, and i think that i should try my best to follow the graduates' advice of not leaving any regrets. from the moment i became a 3rd year,i thought "whatever i want to teach/convey to the juniors, i will do it!".
Q: What about Kikuchi?
Kikuchi: Hmm, with Mizuno at 2013 graduation ceremony, when we read the souji (farewell speech), i had this feeling "oh no, what if i became the president..?". That might be something the teachers have decided to put in their best efforts into teaching me about, but if i really became the president,I thought that I should reject it..
Q: Why would you reject?
Kikuchi: I would surely not be able to lead. As council president, i had feeling that i could destroy Sakura Gakuin,. i thought that "the Sakura Gakuin that everyone worked so hard to build, i don't want it to collapse in our generation".
Q: But Kikuchi-san, you were chosen as the council president..
Kikuchi: To me, if someone else was chosen, i would give my full efforts into supporting her. this year was also determined by votes, but honestly, there must also be people who did not want me to be the president. However, since i was chosen, my first thought was "to lead such that to not let Sakura Gakuin collapse".
Q: Mizuno-san how did you feel when you were elected as the "produce chairperson"?
Mizuno: I thought "What is a produce chairperson?". i knew from asking that it is to be in charge of setlists, but what other duties are there? However, this doesn't change that I am in the top(final) year of Sakura Gakuin. I was told by graduates that "Yui chan knows of Sakura Gakuin's good qualities the best". I was also told "now, we think Yui understands the things that we told/taught to you, so do convey that to your juniors as well. Also including new transfer students in the future, connect with them and guide them along, and pass on the baton properly to them". As produce chairperson, not only was i happy with being in charge of the setlists, but also I like to think about the meanings of lyrics. So, to also play my part for the graduated students,i felt that i must do my best not to waste everyone's efforts!
Q: So in 2014 summer, Kikuchi Moa and Mizuno Yui were performing as BABYMETAL in Lady Gaga's opening act in North America, were absent from TIF. For the current year's Sakura Gakuin, it was a big trial that arose.
Kikuchi: When it was decided that BABYMETAL and Sakura Gakuin were going to be separated, i was very troubled and worried. I don't cherish one more over the other but, it was from Sakura Gakuin that BABYMETAL was created from, so i did not want to neglect Sakura Gakuin because of BABYMETAL's activities. So, honestly, when I could not be present at TIF, which was the very first stage that we performed on, i felt vexed and sad. It was then that we learnt about "though separated, our hearts are as one". Now i think that it was a good thing that we learnt that, especially for this year's Sakura Gakuin. I spoke with Yui about this, that I don't want to think that it's because of BABYMETAL, that we have popularity. Even though I feel that BABYMETAL's activities have a connection to Sakura Gakuin, i think we also felt the same pain as the other members. Regarding this , how did the other members really feel? i wondered. i think that it was big issue, having 2 of the 3rd years missing. However, everyone put up a brave front, and said "itterashai" to bid us farewell normally. Though i am grateful for them saying that, because Summer's event was an opportunity for 10 of us to gather. So now i feel that "i'm glad that everyone was able to overcome that".
Q: What about Mizuno-san?
Mizuno: When i was asked by sensei "BABYMETAL's activities may become more and more busy from now on. With both Babymetal and Sakura Gakuin's activities, i think it is going to be quite a lot. Will you do it? " , i replied "I want to". I was also told "There might be times when you have to be absent from certain events. But as much as possible, you will be together with the others." At that point, I said "I definitely do not want to miss TIF!". It was the stage that we performed on stage for the first time from the first generation, and also from there that Sakura Gakuin started building up. For TIF, we would gather everyday during our summer break, put in our utmost effort to practice, to overcome the live event together, because of this chance our bonds can also become deeper. I had hoped to follow this idea. So when i was told that we had to do the opening acts in North America, i felt troubled. Moa was right in saying that BABYMETAL existed because of Sakura Gakuin. But i thought "if this could also expand Sakura Gakuin's merits.." so i chose to go for it. Sensei sent us TIF videos. When i saw that, "i wanted to go out there.." i thought, and felt apologetic to the members and fukei-san. However with regards to that, "It is because we are separated, that we are able to become one" kind of feeling came to be, that our bonds have deepened. Even up till now, sometimes i would think "i would have liked to go out there (to perform).." but, there were also lots of good things that happened, and have grown from this, that i feel glad I have also put in the effort for BABYMETAL. .
Q: So it was then that you became more self-aware of your responsibility
Taguchi: When Marina-chan and Rau-chan came, everyone looked like were having fun. at that time i remembered "Sakura Gakuin's lessons was like this". "We should do it like this too by ourselves" i thought. If there was no TIF this year, I would not be able to feel like this now, and i am glad that we had that trial to overcome.
Notsu: It was because MoaYui were busy with BABYMETAL, that we had lots of chances this year. So, even as the Talk Chairperson, i thought that I was able to reveal much of myself. After become year 3, my attitude and thinking towards Sakura Gakuin also changed. I thought about "If we were anxious and uneasy, our juniors would also be so, thus i need to become steady and reliable!" for the first time ever.
Mizuno: At first, the both of them (Horiuchi and Iida) also looked worried. To be able to participate again in TIF as Sakura Gakuin must have been a really happy thing for them would want to do it. However, the ones who makes up 2014 Sakura Gakuin is not MariMari nor Rau-chan, but the 10 of us, so they are troubled as they thought "To join in now might not be a good thing right?" .I think that it was after such deliberation that they decided to join in, so during the lessons, they would keep quiet and just watch over us. When i was overseas, they contacted me. "Recently Hana and Yunano had changed" they said. I was happy that even though they graduated they were always thinking of Sakura Gakuin too.
Q: Was the colour found for the year 2014?
Mizuno: (While nodding) But it took a long time before we found it. There were many colours that we wanted to show, but it took a long while before 1 one was fixed. Even though we had discussions, the hearts of the year 3 could not become one. And because the year 3 could not become one, it will also not be possible for the hearts of all 10 members to become one. It was only in December that we can say "let's deliver this!".
Kikuchi: Moa was also very worried. Firstly, i was always worried about "was it good to have me become council president?". When i consulted Suu-chan and Marina-chan about that, they listened to me worryingly. I had been rushing into things on my own. I compared too much with the past. The current generation should be the current generation, but i kept thinking too much about "it wasn't like this last year.." . The current generation should be the most important now, so regarding the "me" that kept comparing, now that i think of it, i realise that it was wrong to do that. Also, honestly I didn't want to be troubled over such things. As a pacifist, i do not like conflicts. Previously in the Big One Girls interview, i said it before, but actually, its a personality that i couldn't say. I had this ideal "It will be good if everyone were to progress in an enjoyable manner" . However, when i looked around me, everyone was actually supporting me. Even from the graduates, they had been supporting me too. We have come this far with everyone's cooperation, so though i am very glad that things turned out the way it was, it might be too late to realise this... At the very begining, we were told "we have been putting alot of effort into many things" alot,and i think that we have really impressed people, but as Yui mentioned, the 4 of us (seniors) could not agree wholly and align with one another. As a result, the juniors were also affected and confused. But now, we felt we have become "aligned", even though it was quite late, I feel that from there on it will be good if all of us can continue to be "as one".
Mizuno: Now, with the feeling of "cherishing every day", having all 10 members hearts being as one and advancing to the graduation ceremony like this, and at the end, I feel we can end this in an enjoyable way.
Q: So, finally, please talk about your dreams/plans after graduation.
Notsu: I am thinking of becoming an actress. From when i was small i watched Mitani Kouki's movies and have lots of memories of laughter, so I also want to be able to be an actress that can make people laugh. Also, since my body has grown, if possible i would also like to take up the challenge of being a model. Since becoming the talk chairperson, i have learnt to like talking , so I will also like to try out variety shows.
Taguchi: Even before joining Sakura Gakuin i liked singing and dancing but, after joining and performing in front of the Fukei-san, there were reactions from them and so, i became liking singing and dancing even more and so, i want to continue doing that. Even though there is TV or other platforms that i can appear in, i really like standing on stage so i would always want to be performing on stage, If i can sing and dance. Even for plays, which I am poor at, i will challenge it. Also, I have alot of respect for Mikiko Sensei and i like her choreography, so I want to dance the choreography that she creates. It may sound strange but, I decided that "no matter what,i want to become famous!", so before i become famous, i surely won't die (lol). I definitely want my wish to come true.
Mizuno: After graduating, firstly as BABYMETAL's Yuimetal, I will want to progress while facing many things with my full effort. As Mizuno Yui's dream, I haven't really decided of what I want to become but, because I like Sakura Gakuin a lot, now i am seriously cherishing it. So , I can still be aimlesss while passing out from Sakura Gakuin, and try to search for my purpose in life. Not forgetting whatever i learnt from Sakura Gakuin and my initial feelings, i think i want to become a Super Lady graduate that everyone admires.
Kikuchi: Same for me, after graduating, i will first place my faith in the path of Moametal and progress accordingly , but also like the other graduates who have continued to support Sakura Gakuin, We also definitely won't forget about Sakura Gakuin and , whichever path we choose, i will want to make full use of the things we learnt in Sakura Gakuin. Also, before I joined Sakura Gakuin, i don't know when or where it started from but , I have always said "I want to become Super Moa-chan!" . I was asked, "what is a Super Moa-chan?", but even up till now, i cannot answer this precisely. However, I definitely do not want to change this dream, I don't know how many years it will take but, someday i will want find the path of "Super Moa-chan". Also, as the 4 of us together, I will want to visit Okinawa. During the photoshoot for this book, when we were taken there, we didn't had the chance to play. Nevertheless, we got play at the beach, have meals together and stay overnight together, it was very fun. So, 4 of us discussed about "going there privately", and I want that to become a reality.
Mizuno: May I say 1 more thing? If many people come to know about Mizuno Yui, i will want to release a book packed with the charm of Sakura Gakuin. If I do that, I can let many people know about Sakura Gakuin. I will be able to say something like "My Alma Mater is Sakura Gakuin!" , and continue aiming to become a "Super Lady!".
Translation by: CalMetal.