Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Momochi no Kimochi: Tears (Essay #22/22)

I got to go to a primary school for a month to do practical teacher training as part of my university studies. I’m an idol 24 hours a day, and my aura of cuteness shines bright around the clock. But since I’d be at school, I’d have to work hard to conceal that aura. At any rate, the nickname ‘Momochi’ and the Momochi Musubi were no-nos. As a result, my students didn’t seem to have noticed, and my teaching practice went by without a hitch. Of course it was better that way, but to me, it felt a bit sad, like a piece of myself had been taken away from me……

In that state of mind, I approached my final day. My students had never called me anything but ‘Tsugunaga-sensei’. But after I had said my farewells, with a ‘one two’, they said ‘We love Momochi~!’ I hadn’t expected this surprised, so I was caught off-guard. No matter when I dealt with my students, I’d tried not to let that part of me show. I’m known to be an iron-hearted woman, who would hardly, if ever, show my tears in front of people. And yet, I was crying buckets…… Like something out of a drama, it was a beautiful story, a beautiful scene, and they were also beautiful tears. The smiles on the faces of my students were of course so wonderful that it was almost blinding.

You know. Because of that, how do I put this…… Thinking about it now, there was a camera when it happened! Since it was really a truly lovely scene! Perhaps if we had given it another try, I would have properly looked at the camera, and cried nicely. I’m confident that I could pull it off! But I definitely would like to be in the Momochi Musubi if we did that ♪

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Country Girls (CD Journal Feb 2017)

Tsugunaga-san, this might be the last time you'll be appearing in this magazine.

Yanagawa: Huh~

Tsugunaga: Oh my! So, about that front cover......

Everyone: Ahahaha!

And with that, I think it would be nice if things moved along as usual.


So when you go out for meals, it's normally Tsugunaga-san who extends the invitation? Is it difficult to ask her out without some sort of underlying reason?

Yamaki: Actually, there isn't a problem with inviting her out without any reasons. But I find it difficult. I can't just ask a great-senpai out for a meal without a reason. The other day, the two of us went for mushroom nabe. I felt like having some, but it turned out that the others weren't big fans of mushrooms when I asked them. I didn't want to drag along people who weren't really fond of mushrooms, so I asked Momochi-senpai whether she'd like to have mushroom nabe. She was okay with that, and she was fine with me asking her out. I was actually really shocked by the fact that there weren't any problems with me asking her out for a meal on a private basis. And though we happily headed to the store, (looks at Tsugunaga) she turned peevish.

Tsugunaga: I was really happy that Risa-chan extended an invitation to me. It's not uncommon for me to have a meal with the kouhai, but the invitation would generally come from me. That was the first time that Risa-chan had asked me out, so I was on cloud nine as we headed to the store, with a spring to my step. I was even having fun picking things out from the menu. But then I got embarrassed at how excited I was. Could it be that perhaps Risa-chan had something to discuss with me? Now that my graduation's set in stone, she'll become the oldest in the group, so I wondered if there was some sort of problem concerning the group.

Like she may have wanted to ask you something.

Tsugunaga: That's right. I was wondering if there was something she wanted to bring up. To find out if she wanted to talk with about something, I asked her why she'd invited me out. And so it turned out that it was because none of the other members liked mushrooms that much. I was like 'Huh?' (laughs) I'd been chosen via the process of elimination. And what's more, she added that nabe isn't something she could order without at least 2 people.

Yamaki: I couldn't go alone. (laughs)

Tsugunaga: Isn't that horrible!

I'd have thought that Tsugunaga-san would have been the first person to ask. (laughs)

Yamaki: And that's where we differ. I didn't think that it would be all right to ask Momochi-senpai out without a reason. If I'd told her that I just invited her for some vague reason or the other, it'd be awkward.

Tsugunaga: You could've just said that you wanted to have a meal with me.

All: That's right!

Tsugunaga: You just happened to want mushroom nabe, and I happened to be the only person who was convenient, right?

Yamaki: ...Well, that's true, you happened to fit the bill. That is a fact. (laughs) The big takeaway I got from this huge incident was that it's fine to invite Momochi-senpai out just because I want to have a meal with her. So I'd like to ask her out for more meals until her graduation.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Momochi no Kimochi: The statement that changed my fate (Essay #21/22)

I’m now known as ‘Momochi’ all over Japan, or should I say, throughout the world (!?), but it was given to me by my fellow group member Sugaya Risako-chan about four or five years ago. She probably turned ‘Momo-chan’ to ‘Momochi’, but it was cute and rolled off the tongue, so I thought that it was a good nickname.

It was about two years later when I decided that I’d fare better with a nickname, that I’d be Momochi from then on. In order to spread the word, I started by changing my signature. But I would require permission from my manager in order to change my signature. And what’s more, given that my nickname had yet to make its mark at the time, would they really allow me to change from my name ‘Momoko’ to ‘Momochi’? There weren't any senpai that could act as a precedent, so perhaps they might be really against it…… With my head all in a mess, I discussed it with my manager-san. I showed my manager my new signature, asking whether it would be all right for me to change my signature like that. And my manager uttered the following statement:

Ah, that’s great, it’s much quicker to write.

…...T, that’s it~~!? What was the point of me getting so worked up about? Give me back that sense of panic I had wastefully used up!! But I was lucky that I got to change it without too much fuss ♪ And as you all know, the nickname ‘Momochi; has spread throughout Japan ♥♥♥ And that’s thanks to the lightly-made statement by that manager-san ♥

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

Saturday, 13 May 2017

H!P Battle without Honour and Humanity - S/mileage x Juice=Juice (Top Yell Sept 2013)


What impression did you have of Miyamoto-san when she was in the Eggs?

Fukuda: She was really tiny when she joined us, like someone's little sister, and she was super cute. The both of us really liked strawberries, so I gave her my 'Strawberry Soul' T-shirt.

Miyamoto: I've worn that T-shirt so much that those words have faded. It's currently in my loft at home!

Takeuchi-san, you were in the H!P Kenshuusei until 2011, so your tenure overlapped, didn't it?

Takeuchi: Karin is one year my junior, and joined the H!P Eggs about half a year after me, so she was the closest to me. We acted together in plays, and we had many opportunities to sing together at concerts and recitals during our tenure as Kenshuusei. Back then, she was way smaller than me, but now she's overtaken me......

Miyamoto: Am I taller?

Takeuchi: You are, you are~

Miyamoto: No way. How many centimeters are you?

Takeuchi: 154cm?

Miyamoto: We're about the same.

Fukuda: No, I'm sure that Take-chan's 153 cm (laughs).

Takeuchi: Well, it's not that different though (laughs).


Besides her height, in what other ways has [Miyamoto-san] grown?

Takeuchi: Karin's been good at singing ever since she joined the Kenshuusei, so I lose to her in that!

Miyamoto: But when I joined the Eggs, Takeuchi-san's dancing looked super energetic, and she was really quick at remembering the dance moves, so I really admired her. She'd have them properly remembered by the time the next lesson rolled around, and she'd be telling us how to do it.

Fukuda: Take-chan's getting self-conscious (laughs).


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A proclamation from the final successor to the 'Momochi-isms'? Country Girls' Funaki Musubu, who used to always put on a mask, talks about her 'worries'...

[Original interview published 2017-01-31]
Funaki Musubu-chan, entrusted with the 'Momochi-isms'

We finally arrived at the last, seventh person for the 2017 'ShuuPure News interview series with this year's "High potential Idols we're keeping an eye on"'!

'Momochi' Tsugunaga Momoko-san announced that she would be graduating in June 2017. Appearing in this final instalment is an assassin from 'Country Girls', the group Momochi is attached to! It's Funaki Musubu-chan!

Her cute looks are likely to catch the eye, but Musubu-chan has also been entrusted with the 'Momochi-isms'--- Not your run-of-the-mill beauty, is she??

* * *

Well then, for 'ShuuPure News's selection of 7 idols that we're keeping an eye out for in 2017', we have the last person, number seven, Funaki Musubu-san! In these interviews, we dig deeper into the personality of the girl we've got our eye on, but in your case...

I put on a mask! (said clearly)

... You just go out and say it clearly! (laughs) Are you still acting innocent, even now?

Yes! I'm really putting on a mask! It's pulled down over my eyes. Even when I joined Country Girls, I was always on my guard. It was at the start of our tour when I shed it off. Before I knew it, I now speak in Kansai-ben in the middle of MCs, like I'm angry at something.

You are from Osaka, aren't you? So did you put on a mask when you were a kid?

If pushed to say, I was really forward when I was small, I could even talk to strangers.

Like Chie-chan, the protagonist in that old manga 'Jarinko Chie'. Something like that.

I've heard of it! I was often told that! People would say, 'Musubu-chan, you're like Chie-chan', and I'd be like 'Who?' (laughs) I'd just go and talk with all sorts of people. Even with old men whom I didn't know, I'd be like 'Listen~ I'm Musubu-chan. Did you know that~?' Also, there was a park near my home which had a stage. So I would go up on-stage while everyone was watching, and suddenly start singing and dancing Matsuura Aya-san's 'Yeah! Meccha Holiday'. So it's not like I was shy or putting on a false face.

Then it happened at some point in time... But wait a minute, you just pulled out Matsuura Aya-san's name, so have you always liked Hello! Project (the idol project that Morning Musume。 and Country Girls belong to) since you were small?

Originally, the anime 'Kirarin ☆ Revolution' aired when I was five or six. The heroine Tsukishima Kirari-chan was voiced by Kusumi Koharu-san, who was in Morning Musume。-san at the time. My mother told me that Morning Musume。's Kusumi Koharu-chan did the voice of Kirari-chan. And my mother likes Morning Musume。-san and H!P. When I was in my later years of kindergarten, she really let me watch their videos.

H!P fans from your parent's generation What elites! That's gifted education.

Heehee. (laughs) When I was small, I would make my own songs and lyrics in front of the mirror. I held singing programmes by myself in front of the mirror. I'm an only child, so the mirror was my friend. I'd sing in my own way, putting in what simple words I knew like 'Love' or 'Happy'. And I played all the roles, like the singers appearing on the show and the chairperson.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Momochi no Kimochi: Dreams (Essay #20/22)

Momochi is versatile (?), but I have a skill that impresses even myself.

I am able to control what happens in my dreams.

For example, if I'm being chased after baddies, I'll wish for a policeman to come, and one will come. If I want to get down from a high spot, I'll wish for a trampoline to cushion my landing, and a trampoline will appear. So no matter how bad of a dream I'm having, everything settles well in the end. Isn't that amazing? But apparently anyone can do it with enough practice.

And yet, before concerts, I'll definitely have a dream where I lose my teeth. The situation's the same: At a performance set at an outdoor stage, we'll be called out to perform, and my teeth will pop out. I'll be perplexed: 'What do I do? I've got no front teeth!' And it always ends there.

It's only in that dream where things end before I can take control.

I've always been having that dream. It's already been about 10 years since I first started experiencing it.

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

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Excerpts from Kudo Haruka's interview in Top Yell May 2017


Kudo: I'm not the kind of girl who can talk like Michishige-san, and it's not like I'd flourish on the variety circuit. So I asked myself: What can I do? When I thought about it, since I had received many opportunities to do gravure modelling for magazines and the like, at the Budokan, I made a statement that I would work hard as a visual member.

So that's how things started?

Kudo: I knew that there were many more members who were better at singing and dancing than I was. It'd take ages for me to overcome their skill. However, I don't have the time to spare. I had to get myself to the best possible condition in a short amount of time and become someone who stands out, and link it back even more with my work. Thinking about it, I've got nothing else but my looks. I resolved to be the person who would draw people's eyes whenever they took a glance at us.


In Michishige-san and Tsugunaga Momoko-san's case, they became the butt of jokes by asking for it by saying things like 'I'm cute'. Compared to the two of them, I got a different impression from your declaration to move forward as a visual member.

Kudo: While I said that I'd be a visual member, I don't know how to retract that statement. (laughs) So I'm like, what should I do here? I couldn't turn it to a gag, people would say that I was halfheartedly asserting myself......  Actually, staff members have suggested to me that it'd be better to quit saying that. I was told that it was hard to make a comeback when I said it, since I was so serious. Or that unlike Ikuta (Erina), it couldn't be turned into a gag. Ikuta-san herself has commented that it's more of a joke when she says it compared to when I say it. Actually, it's more amusing for the audience when it's her.

However, wasn't your presence in the group gradually diminishing?

Kudo: And that's why I wasn't establishing a character or pulling a joke, the only thing I could do was seriously focus on improving my looks. When I said that I would lead in looks, I said it with the belief that words have power. Having put it into words, I now had the responsibility of staying true to my words.