“Morning Musume Rock in Japan Massive Success Round Table”
Tokyo Sports published a series featuring Ishida Ayumi, Oda Sakura, and Morito Chisaki as a “round table” where they talked about how Rock in Japan (RIJ) 2019 went. For ease of reading, I will just insert a line between the parts in the serial.
Ishida Ayumi: Great job!
Oda Sakura, Morito Chisaki: Great job!
Ishida: For our 11 member lineup, this RIJ was the last performance, wasn’t it? We were able to show the culmination of our hard work!
Oda: That’s so true, we’ve been together for 2 years (with 11 of us), yeah?
Ishida, Morito: Yeah, that’s right.
Oda: That’s not normal, is it?
Ishida: Eh? What do you mean? Not having any members join?
Oda: Yeah. (Morning Musume is a group that changes quickly with additions and graduations.) Ishida and I have been in the group for about 6-7 years, but I’ve never experienced not have anyone join for 2 years.
Ishida: That’s true!
Morito: Um, no one entered after me for two years…
Oda: Ah, that’s true… that’s right (wry smile). That’s all right (maa maa maa, maa maa maa). But, we haven’t been together like a family for a long time, have we? So I actually felt that this was the last time as a group of 11 when we stood on stage. When there are new members, don’t we pay more attention to them?
Ishida: Yeah yeah yeah, that’s true.
Oda: Like we can concentrate on ourselves, cause we’re with who are always there.
Morito: Like we can relax.
Ishida: Like we can rely on people during the times we need help!
Morito: Yeah yeah yeah!
Oda: Like no matter what happens, someone will cover for it.
Ishida: Yeah, yeah.
Oda: I mean, I think everyone can cover each other.
Morito: We were able to perform with members with a sense of security.
Ishida: How was the scenery from the GRASS STAGE (of 60,000)? Were you able to see their faces?
Oda: I was able to!
Morito: I was able to, too! To begin with, when we first appeared last year on the LAKE STAGE (roughly 15,000), I felt “this is our first RIJ, is it even OK to be on this stage?”
Morito: Even though we were shown such a wonderful sight [there], the GRASS STAGE was full of famous names.
Ishida: Yup, yup.
Morito: Last year, after we finished our set, we all went to watch the GRASS STAGE and talked about how we wanted to be on that stage one day, but didn’t think it’d actually be the following year–I was like, “are you sure?!” I prepared as if I’d never let this chance go to waste, so I’m super happy to have been able to see a really wonderful sight!
Ishida: That was so unexpected, wasn’t it? When we were on standby, Chii (Morito) and I were on the left-hand side, and Oda was on the right-hand side, yeah?
Oda: Yep, stage right.
Ishida: The members on our side of the stage were like half-crying just before we went on, yeah?
Oda: Is that so?
Ishida: When Shibutani Yoichi, the RIJ President, said “Morning Musume doesn’t conform to Rock in Japan, and came to fight with their own performance. The audience [last year] appreciated that,” I thought, “it’s OK for us to be ourselves.” Ah, even now I’m going to cry…
Oda: My mother, a huge music fan, said, “Without President Shibutani Japanese music wouldn’t have materialized! In talking about the music scene, he’s absolutely indispensable!” For someone like that to call our name is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and so when he said “Morning Musume ’19,” it was a huge honor.
Ishida, Morito: I cried!
Oda: Our routine had us appear with our hoods on, so if I were to summarize our feelings when we saw the stage, our hearts got hot [with passion]! Like, something had come [over us]…
Morito: Like, “I’m so glad.”
Ishida: My voice quivered.
Morito: Everyone’s voices were different from their normal voices, having strained too much (laughs).
Ishida, Oda: (laughs along)
Ishida: I mean, it was like a scene we’ve seen in photos, but I was just so glad the audience was full.
Morito: We were the top batters that day, so I was worried whether or not it’d fill up.
Ishida: We were all unsure about it, but that feeling of relief when we saw it! “They’re here, they’re here!”
Oda: Without thinking I was about to smile, but I did my best and kept my cool?
Ishida: I cheesed hard (laughs). Ah, but, it was all right, our first song “Mikan” called for it.
Oda: Ah, that’s OK then.
Ishida: Right? And as the songs kept moving along, when “LOVE Machine” came up, that’s when the peak of our emotions came too, yeah?
Oda: Somehow, hearing about how Morning Musume’s biggest live audience was at Saitama Super Arena with 23,000, and [even] amongst this group’s 20 year history, we were performing that song in front of its biggest audience.
Morito: Just those words alone…
Ishida: You start to tear, yeah?
Oda: Everyone was doing the LOVE Machine arm movements!
Oda: Even the ones who don’t normally come to our concerts! That’s when I felt, “this song is definitely amazing! I’m really singing an appreciated song.”
Ishida: For real though!
Morito: I’m grateful to our history, and grateful to our seniors! We have this now because of them.
Ishida: Yeah so, it wasn’t just the 11 of us, we were able to stand on that GRASS STAGE with the emotion(s) of all our past members.
Morito: Even during “Utakata Saturday Night!,” the audience were doing the arm movements! I was on the end of the stage of that time, and when I beckoned them with my arms, they’d actually come over! Seeing that made me really happy.
Ishida: For real!
Morito: That’s when I felt the audience is actually watching the current Morning Musume.
Oda: We ended our 49:59 setlist in 49:55 since we cut a bit of our MC. If we went long, we would have cut “Koko ni iruzee!”
Ishida: We really played the offense, didn’t we? [We prepared] a reserve? Or like a Plan B, yeah?
Oda: We rehearsed a version without it. There was a signal to let us know if we had to cut it, but we didn’t get anything: when the members realized we could sing “Koko ni iruzee!,” you should have seen our faces!
Ishida: For sure!
Oda: We were all happy, thinking “we can sing it!”
Ishida: We had a year as this 11 member group, but we got close in that time. It was like “I love you all!,” so standing on the same stage I also thought, “everyone’s so cool!” Yeah.
Oda: Nah, you were cool too! Everyone was cool!
Morito: (nodding her head [rapidly] in approval)
Oda: Even though that sense of security seems obvious, I understood just how blessed we are with that when I took my health leave for a month. Yeah… Even though I’ve been in a group for 7-8 years, after resting for a bit I felt, “I want to remain as part of a group” again.
Morito: (A sound that’s not quite her voice)
Oda: Yeah so I really felt “ah, I’ve returned” today.
Morito: But we’re really glad you made it back in time…
Oda: I’m glad too! It was exactly a month, too.
Ishida: I thought so! We were doing the H!P concerts as a group of 10 without you, and somewhere, my heart was wavering. “Oda’s not here!”
Ishida: I became a bit disheveled.
Morito: “I wonder if Oda is OK?”
Ishida: Not just Oda, but we can’t go without even one member. That’s what I thought with Oda gone.
Morito: My first worry was about RIJ, because I knew Oda-san was really excited about it. That it’d be way better if we did our performance as 11 rather than 10.
Oda: I’m so happy! Everyone was contacting me a lot too. I honestly thought I’m not that much. This is a group that can get over anything, so I thought even without me, you folks would be able to perfect it as a group of 10. I rested thinking like that. Then I heard from another manager, “with you resting, there are a lot of people who miss you.” When I heard that, I realized I loved you folks more than I thought.
Ishida: Uwa~, a confession! Oda, you realized it?
Oda: Yeah, I did (embarrassed). But you know, the members are overflowing with humor, or you know, baka-chans (idiots)…
Ishida: I know!
Oda: Because it’s full of girls like that, and because there are misunderstandings that exceed my expectations, it’s always fun correcting the jokes one by one. [Note: I think this is her way of saying she likes to tsukkomi the other girls.]
Ishida: You do that a lot behind the scenes, yeah?
Oda: “That’s wrong! (Chau chau chau!)” Because it’s full of girls like that, it’s like regular things aren’t enough of a stimulation. Correcting everyone is really fun.
Ishida: How much did you contact [Oda], Chii?
Morito: With Oda-san? 2 or 3 times, I think.
Ishida: I contacted Oda when she announced her rest period. After that I didn’t contact her (laughs).
Oda: But you were the first one!
Ishida: Ahh, that’s true.
Oda: You were the first one to ask if I was all right. I explained what was going on, and thought “ah, they’re worried about me,” then that was it.
Ishida: That was it!
Oda: But until Ishida-san said “Are you OK for RIJ?” I didn’t think about it. “Ah, come to think of it there’s RIJ.”
Ishida: RIJ was all I was worried about (laughs).
Ishida: But I want to appear again next year!
Oda, Morito: Me too!
Ishida: Morning Musume still has a lot of fun songs, so I want to show them off!
Morito: Of course, me too! The new members got stuck in traffic, and missed seeing us live too.
Oda: I was overwhelmed when I heard “60,000 people” before we started, and wondered how it’d go, but after performing, I didn’t think that. It wasn’t that I rode that wave of emotion, but you understand when you stand on stage that feeling of “this is an impossible number of people.”
Ishida: That’s true.
Oda: When you think it, you really do. When I just debuted at the Nippon Budoukan, I thought “uwa, this is impossible!” and “I’m scared!” So I’m happy about today, that I didn’t fear/reject this huge amount of people.
Ishida: We were able to think “Come at us!”
Oda: I think mostly everyone was watching us for the first time, and the fact that the audience kept growing gave me confidence.
Ishida: All right, we’ll be back next year!
Oda, Morito: We’ll be back!
Ishida: I want to come back!