Kanda Translates: “At least I did this” proudly – Former Morning Musume Kusumi Koharu talks baseball

The following is a translation of this July 31st article (「これだけやった」胸を張って 元モー娘・久住小春さん) published on Asahi Shimbun Digital, written by Nakamura Kenta. I thought it would be of interest for those who may have wanted to see her thought process in becoming a Musume, graduating, and what she’s doing now.

The 101st Japanese High School Baseball Championship (Koshien, sponsored in part by Asashi Shimbun) will start on August 6th. Former Morning Musume member Kusumi Koharu (from Nagaoka, Niigata) offered words of support: “play without regrets.”

(NOTE: The following is written in first person)

In my first year of middle school, I became a Musume, as announced in a schoolwide assembly where the members came out to surprise me. Two weeks later, I stood on stage at the Nippon Budokan. The changes were so hectic, I couldn’t even be shocked at what was going on.

I’m from Washima-mura (currently Nagaoka City). The trains used to come once every two hours, and the bus every four hours. When I was in 5th grade, I became the village’s volleyball team captain, and practiced really seriously. I mean, we didn’t win any games though. My brother (who’s 4 years older than me) and my dad would play baseball, so on our days off we’d go as a family to watch games.

I have a an older sister too, and I was the only one of the three not to have my own room… I kind of remember thinking that if I went to Tokyo I could have my own room. If I passed the Morning Musume audition, I’d definitely be able to debut and move to Tokyo, so even my sister told me, “you have to audition, don’t you?”

Although it was nice I got to move to Tokyo, I had no experience singing or dancing. On top of that, my first song had a flamenco-like dance that was super difficult. But the schedule for all our concerts and recording days were already set, so that put the pressure on: I had to memorize everything no matter what. I’d memorize the song during my commutes, and I had to practice dancing even when I went home. Although I didn’t become good at it immediately, I felt like I was becoming able to do it. I started to strongly feel that it’s important that you try at everything you can.

I graduated Morning Musume after 5 years. I wasn’t scared at all about leaving the group cause I was looking forward to become a fashion magazine model, which I’d always wanted to do. In reality, I became a contracted model for CanCam magazine after a year. I was happy about that, yeah. While I was modelling, I’d also act in theatre about once a year, but I always hated it from before. I appeared in one production in middle school, and even my family said “you were horrible” and laughed at me.

The turning point for me was working with Sato Tetsuya, who’s known for being a tough director. It was my first leading role, and although I’d done cheerful roles up until then, I was entrusted to play someone with a bit of a dark side that was completely different from my normal self. I didn’t have anything to rely on and I didn’t understand what to do, so I would ask: what should I do?

Every rehearsal he’d get angry with me, but slowly what he wanted started to sink in–“oh, this is the expression,” stuff like that. After having done that, I’d like to become someone who can play a variety of roles. I’d like to keep at the forefront how fans and directors may feel: “this person can fulfill my expectations.”

Last February I appeared in a production called “Ookiku furikabutte,” which was set around high school baseball. I had to play the team manager who could throw a fly ball straight up nicely, but I actually hadn’t much of a clue what the rules were in baseball.

When I went back home to Niigata for New Year’s I asked my brother, who was the catcher for his high school softball team, everything I didn’t understand. I didn’t even know what “we change after 3 outs” meant, but I started to understand slowly. I found out catchers play an important position because they give out signals, so I started to think of my brother as pretty amazing.

It must be difficult for all these high school baseball players. They may fixate on wins and losses, but I think it’s most important to play without regrets. Even if you lose, I hope they find the pride to say, “at least I was able to do this much.”

To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of her after about a year or so of her becoming a Musume, but it’s nice to see that she’s grown up since leaving the group.

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