Morning Musume。‘16 attended Anime Matsuri 2016 in Houston, Texas, as guests of honor and held a Q&A session on Friday, a concert on Saturday night, and autograph sessions for fans. We sat down with Morning Musume。‘16 to ask them about their first U.S. concert as the 2016 lineup, their promotional activities, and how their trip to Texas had been so far.
How did the concert go for you last night? Did it meet your expectations?
Fukumura: Since the venue was really spacious, at first I was pretty worried about how many people would actually come in. There’s of course our fans who have been waiting for us, but also people who just got curious and came in to watch in the middle of the concert. When I saw that, I was really happy that Morning Musume。‘16 got to perform in front of so many people.
[There was a count of about 6000 people.]
How is the preparation for an overseas live like Houston different than preparing for your concerts in Japan?
Ikuta: We all do MC segments during the concert, and this time, we tried to make the messages in it as fitted for everyone in Houston as possible. We also usually speak in Japanese, but we’ve been working hard in remembering English and its pronunciations. Of course, things can be communicated through song, but doing the same through words is much harder, so I think the biggest difference in our Japanese and overseas concerts is preparing for how to cross that language barrier.
Have you had a chance to sight-see around Houston? Any plans on picking up a Cowboy hats/boots?
Ishida: We all went to this…barbecue event?…rodeo! We all went to this rodeo event the other day, and even though we didn’t get to actually watch it, there were a lot of people wearing cowboy hats around! Everyone was very friendly! For example, this one gentleman suddenly put his cowboy hat on top of my head and went, “good!”
Have you had a chance to try any Texas BBQ?
Kudo: It wasn’t actually barbecue, but we had really good steak!!
Might I recommend beef brisket if you haven’t had it yet!
It’s smoked beef, for over 24 hours.
Members: Roast beef?!? That sounds good!!
Not exactly, it’s actually cooked by smoking alone!
Members: Oooh!! We want to try that!
Many overseas fans get to know you through your YouTube shows “Hello! Station” and “Girls Night Out”. What new corners/segments would you like to try for “Hello! Station” or “Girls Night Out” that would showcase your personality/charm?
Oda: I’m really good with make-up, so I really want a corner on YouTube to introduce different ways to do make-up. I’ll put in a request with the staff!
Iikubo: What I noticed from coming to Anime Matsuri, is that a lot of fans will cosplay as characters in Japanese anime. So I’d like to do a show that introduces more kinds of anime and manga to everyone.
Makino: I really love baseball, so I want to have a show about it! Also one that kind of has how-tos on the ways to cheer during games!
Fukumura: I noticed that a lot of the overseas fans have our official goods, so I’d like to do a corner on Hello!Station that introduces different ways to customize it and wear it this way or that way!
Suzuki: I like to cook food and make sweets, so I’d like a show about that, and then everyone can enjoy it together afterwards!
Ogata: This is my first time coming overseas and my first time hearing real English in action, and I thought it sounds really cool! So since Nonaka-chan is fluent in it, I thought we should have a show where she teaches us English!
Nonaka: Actually, yesterday during the autograph session, I had a lot of overseas fans tell me that they wanted me to do an English lesson corner! So I really want to do it now!
Fukumura Mizuki – This is your first time coming to America as the Leader of MM’16, did you give any advice to 12th generation as this was their first time performing overseas?
Fukumura: Since the feeling of doing a concert here is totally different from that in Japan, I think the most important thing is to realize how much love we receive from all over the world. Also, being so far apart, we don’t get to meet the overseas fans very frequently, so it’s important to make the concert have a really long-lasting impression. But just having Nonaka-chan around also gives us peace of mind!
Ikuta Erina – Fans often talk about the good relationships that members maintain with alumni/graduated members. Do you still keep in contact with Niigaki Risa?
Ikuta: Yes, I still keep in touch with Niigaki-san. Even though she’s a senpai, I feel like she’s the person I can pretty much talk about anything with. Like, I’ll ask her “What are you doing right now?” or we’ll go out to eat together on Christmas. We get along very well!
Suzuki Kanon – So many U.S. fans are going to miss you when you graduate. Do you have any special messages for U.S. Morning Musume。’16 fans you want to say before you graduate?
Suzuki: I’ve really been looking forward to the Houston concert! Even though we tour around Japan a lot, places overseas are so far that it makes it harder to convey our feelings directly, so both we and the fans have to rely on the internet, etc. For people who may not have been able to make it to Houston this weekend, even though we may not be able to meet before I graduate, it’s not like I’ll just vanish! I’ll still be in this world, so maybe just hold on to the hope that one day, we just might meet again.
Iikubo Haruna – You said you would like to go to Space Center Houston of NASA. Did you have a chance to go there?
Iikubo: We plan to go! We haven’t yet, but we plan to go while we’re still in Houston. I’m really excited about it, and since it might be a once in a lifetime situation, I really want to make lots of memories there!
Kudo Haruka – Many U.S. fans love to watch your kabedon with the other H!P members. Do you have any tips for a successful kabedon?
Suzuki: For the sake of all the male fans out there!
Kudo: I…didn’t think me doing kabedon would be so popular in the world, so I’m really surprised right now! But I’d be glad to help spread it to the rest of the world! As for advice on how to do it…doing it without hesitation is probably the best way. So for all the guys out there, try doing it without giving out a “I’m about to kabedon you” type of feeling and just do it naturally!
Oda Sakura – When comparing the fans and performance here in Houston vs. your last event in New York City, what sort of differences have you notice between the two?
Oda: Well, in New York, it was a solo concert for Morning Musume。’14, so everybody who was there had to buy their tickets to get in. This time in Houston, the doors are all open and even people who don’t know Morning Musume。’16 can come in and watch. So even though people in New York were pretty much all hyped like our fans in Japan, there were a lot of people this time who were just watching, examining, and taking videos of us.
Nonaka Miki – Since most of the members know that you speak English fluently, have they been asking you for advice with their English?
Nonaka: Yes, even before the recording of “One and Only”, the other members have been asking for help in English pronunciations! And in Houston, they’ll come up to me and ask “How do you say this?” so I feel like I’ve become a teacher of some sort!
Also are there any American Snacks that you’ve missed or things you’re excited to try since you’re back in the states?
Nonaka: It’s been 5 years since I’ve been back, so there’s a lot of things I’ve been looking forward to! One particular one is American cereal because there’s not much of it in Japan! I bought Corn Pops! And also, I really wanted to communicate in English and since I get to do that every day right now, I’m really happy!
Makino Maria – Do you have any favorite American baseball teams?
Makino: Texas’…the team that Darvish is in. The team that’s not the Houston Astros…
The Texas Rangers?
Makino: Yes! I haven’t seen any Major League games before so I really want to watch one. I wonder if the way they pitch is different from what I usually see…or what the mood is like in the audience. Also Darvish originally came from my favorite team in Japan, the Nippon Ham Fighters!
~Pick the Member~
(This is segment is where the girls will be asked a question and on the count of 3 they will point to the member that they feel best fits the questions.)
Ikuta: Well, that’s new!
Which member is always hungry?
Kudo Haruka: Herself
All others: Suzuki Kanon
Which member is always playing the most pranks?
Ikuta: Sato Masaki
Iikubo: Suzuki Kanon
All others: Iikubo Haruna
Which member has the weirdest fashion sense?
Sato: There’s 2, isn’t there?
Ishida: -hits Sato-
Ishida/Kudo/Haga: Ishida Ayumi
All others: Nonaka Miki
Oda: It’s pretty split up this time!
Ishida: …why isn’t everybody pointing at me?
Ishida: So…I somehow got this image of being tacky stuck to me, but even though I’m here, so many people pointed to Nonaka, which must mean she’s genuinely unfashionable!!
Makino: For us 12th generation members, everyone is our senpai so we can’t actually say something like that so easily…
Suzuki: Okay, let’s have 12th generation do it again with their real feelings!
Ogata/Makino: Ishida Ayumi
Nonaka: Ishida-san is that kind of character but it’s not like I’m trying to ruin my senpai’s character of being unfashionable! (members laugh) But like, I guess I’m genuinely bad at fashion! Even if I try, I still don’t look fashionable.
Which member looks sleepy all the time?
Suzuki/Oda: Fukumura Mizuki
Iikubo: Sato Masaki
All others: Haga Akane
Haga: There’s times where I’m sleepy and times when I’m not, but it seems that even when I’m not sleepy, there’s no sparkle in my eyes!
Haga: It’s something I’m having a hard time with, how to make my eyes look brighter!
Finally, a word for your American fans, please.
Fukumura: Aside from the 12th generation members, it’s the 2nd time for everyone here to do a concert in America. We have a song called, “What is LOVE?” that was given to us in the form of lyrics from our fans all over the world. And then we have our English song, “One and Only”. From now on, I hope we can spread our music all over the world, and I hope our fans from all over will wait for us! We’ll also do our best with our activities in Japan!
Interview by Ayrton Travina and David Chang.
Photography by David Chang and provided by UP-FRONT PROMOTION Co., Ltd.
Special thanks to Sherrily Huang for translations and research for the interview questions.
Special thanks to TheNumber244 for research for the interview questions.