Monday, April 23, 2007

His words mean so much to me!!!....

Aiba's Arashigoto 10000 Words Interview

I. My Important Family

When I was in nursery school, compared to my dad, my paternal grandparents looked after me more often. I think it was like that when I was a baby too, with my grandparents taking care of me more than my mom. Because they had a restaurant to run, they were always really busy.

But I didn't feel lonely at all. My grandma replaced my mom, constantly by my side at every moment. Every day I would be together with my grandma who would come to pick me up from kindergarten, and we would go to a candy store that was in the opposite direction of our home. All I had to say was "Let's go there" and we would go. Arranging what to buy with a set amount of money in mind, I was really happy.

Grandpa would take me to watch movies and baseball matches, and we also played a lot of things. He also taught me a lot; "Don't be a bother to other people", "Don't leave rice behind", "Don't borrow money from other people", and so on, plus "Don't be a voucher for other people" type of stuff. I was still young back then, and I didn't understand what they meant, but I nevertheless memorized them well.

Although my grandparents were really great, I still brought them a lot of trouble. Grandma really likes flowers, and grew a lot of flowers on one side of the courtyard. Around the time when the flowers had been pollinated and was about to yield kiwi fruits, I took a stick and knocked them all down. Grandma was very angry, and said "Why did you do that?" as she burst into tears. That was just too horrible, to this day my heart still aches. From that time on, I've come to really care for flowers and plants. When there're flowers around I would be very careful where I step, and when I walk I would be more cautious than ever.

But that really was a great courtyard, with a tree that even little kids could pretty much climb. It was a densely branched tree with lots of leaves, and when you hide in it you can't be seen from outside. It was like a secret headquarters, I really liked it.

When my younger brother was born, the four of us started living together. Because my memory of the time when he was born isn't too clear, I didn't even notice when exactly a baby was introduced into the household. It was when I played with him for the first time ever that I finally realized I've become an older brother. When my brother was almost three months old, I helped him bathe. Even though I actually couldn't really do much at all, I still took it upon myself to help him bathe (laugh).

I fought with my younger brother a lot. He would immediately tell mom every time, and I would get angry at that and fight with him again. We even fought at a golf club once. Isn't that dangerous? But we didn't do it on purpose. I was standing right behind him, and then a dumbbell dropped right on my foot. He didn't do it on purpose either (laugh), but it really did hurt-- Another time when we were playing catch, I hit my brother in the face with the ball. And it was with a ball autographed by Kiyohara (laugh). My brother dropped onto the floor and started bleeding from his nose, which really scared me. The two of us have a lot of accidental stories like these.

My dad is very scary when he gets angry. He was best at back and forth slaps to the face. I've been hit a few times, and it was so powerful that it felt like my body was about to fly out. He uses very heavy Chinese-styled woks to cook everyday, so his wrist strength is very powerful, and even now his muscles are still very strong.

But my dad getting angry isn't so bad, usually it's my mom who's even scarier when she gets mad. My brother was thrown out of the second story window once, and cried like crazy. My much beloved Michael Jordans were thrown out the window once too. I don't remember what she was angry about anymore, but that part I remember very clearly. I was crying as I ran out to retrieve those shoes. (Michael Jordan was one of Aiba's idols. The shoes that were thrown out the window were the first pair of Jordan Model running shoes that he bought when he was a first year in junior high. "But it doesn't fit me anymore. Because it wasn't easy to save up my allowance and birthday money to buy it, I could only keep it carefully in my collection from then on.")

Because of this, the two of us thought from the bottom of our hearts, "We're dead meat if mom and dad gets mad". But every Wednesday when the restaurant is closed, they would take us out to eat, and frequently take us on trips, it was very fun. But I don't know why they've never bought video games for me. When I want to play I would go to the nearby house of an older boy called "Toi-chan". He had a lot of games, and I would play til I was satisfied every time.

I really liked swimming classes when I was in elementary school, in the pool, we can always rest when we want to. The unbelievable thing is, while some of my friends were just moving around casually and some of them were practicing, I would just swim around happily on my own. Because I've been taken swimming lessons since I was three, I really like swimming.

I really did just do sports everyday. From Mondays to Fridays it was basketball, Saturday was baseball, and so I practically never watched television. Because I like Jordan, I would imitate the way he sticks his tongue out while playing basketball. My mouth would unavoidably get dried easily if I ever did that, so it wouldn't be possible to play basketball (laugh).

I also like professional wrestling, and even wanted to become a professional wrestler. My friends and I would refine wrestling techniques with each other, but we were really just simply wrestling with each other (laugh). I also had dad's training machine at home, so the environment for preparation to become a professional wrestler was there too. My brother often used the training machine, and it was after that I finally discovered the gap between us. My brother's body is very solid, super strong, and because he also practices boxing, if I try to fight with him now I will lose for sure. But he's already 19 years old, yet he's still enthusiastic about "The Lion King" DVD (laugh)

Because my dad likes it, our family also has a lot of animals. Ever since I was small our house has been like a mini-zoo, with dogs, a squirrel, a parrot, fish. The squirrel is really cute, I've been taking care of it since elementary school, and its name is Ri. Our newest pet is a tortoise called Gonta.

One day when I got home after work, it gave me a shock to see it all of a sudden. In the house we would let the dogs run around, and they would very slowly approach you bit by bit. That's very interesting too.

I really like animals too, and when I was in kindergarten I kept tadpoles as pets. Because I was really too happy, I would just stare at them and watch them all the time, and feed them ten times in one day. I did that everyday, and then one day the tadpoles suddenly grew legs, I was reaaaaaally shocked. Because back then I still didn't know tadpoles would turn into frogs (laugh).

First love... I don't really remember it clearly anymore. When I was in kindergarten there was a girl called Fujishiro that I used to always play with. But at that time I didn't have any "like" feelings for her, that girl was also taller than me. In elementary school I also had girls that I really liked, and there were teachers that I liked too. I wonder who was really my first love...

II. Becoming a Johnny's Jr.

I joined the basketball club in high school, and I was really crazy about basketball. At that time I watched "Ai Love SMAP" and thought, "I want to play basketball with SMAP". I went and asked one of the girls in my class who knew a lot about Johnny's: "I want to play basketball with SMAP, so what should I do?" She said: "Wouldn't you just have to join Johnny's Jimusho?" and also told me a lot of stuff. Though I say this, she didn't really encourage me. It was more like "You're really going? I don't actually know if you can really play basketball with them". I didn't mind it too much, I only carried the attitude like "If that's so, then if I can't do it I'll just participate in our basketball club's activities."

That's why it gave me a shock when I got a notice for auditions a month later. If I was asked to dance, then I would have to dance. It was then that I realized for the first time that if I wanted to join Johnny's, dancing was a necessity. Because I thought "I'll have to dance. So embarrassing~", I brought a basketball with me at the very beginning, and went there in a fluster (laugh). Then I found out I had to announce my name in front of a video, and I was still holding a hamburger in my hand. When I was asked "What kind of strong points do you have?", I replied, "None." And even with just that, I actually became a Johnny's Jr.

My parents didn't say anything at all, and even when I mailed my picture in they only told me, "If you want to do it then do it."

When I first started going to classes I was very lost. I didn't know what kind of stuff I should bring with me, and I didn't have anyone to talk to. But the lessons were very interesting. Though I was very awkward if I was quizzed, because it was very interesting, I wanted to keep at it.

The first choreographed dance that I memorized was V6's "Take me Higher". It was really hard to memorize, so I tried my hardest to memorize it. The first television studio I've ever been to was TBS, so even now if I ever go to a room similar to that control booth by chance, I would think about the events that happened at that time.

The summer after a year since joining the jimusho, I was in the stage play "Stand by me". Before that, I had never been in a play before, and I never thought "I want to act in a play". Though there was so many lines to the point where it scared me, I still went and did it without really feeling any pressure. I don't really remember much about the events that happened back then, but because the four of us got along really well with each other, I just remember being really happy. [T/N: He was in the play with the other guys from MAIN, which are Nino, MatsuJun, and Ikuta Toma]

When I was a Jr. no matter if I was in a TV drama [T/N: Bokura no Yuuki - Miman Toshi], or a movie [T/N: Shinjuku Shounen Tanteidan], I was only doing what they wanted me to do. I didn't have any goals, nor did I have anything I wanted to do. When I was in "8 Jikan" [T/N: a show that frequently featured Johnny's Jr., also the show where Aiba was dubbed "Super Idol Aiba-chan" by the host] and other various programs, "I should say something better", "Give a better performance", I never thought about things like these. When I saw myself on TV, I didn't really think anything of it either. Once in a while people would say to me, "I saw you (on TV) ne", but I would still only be a little happy. I never worried about it, and I never thought about questions like how I should continue working like this. I was just happily doing the work of a Jr. without knowing why.

III. Arashi's Debut

I was the last one to know about forming the group "Arashi" and debuting. While I was on my way to go on a TV program, I was told to go somewhere else. I was thinking, "What's going on?", then I saw that there were already four other people there. Once I was there, we very suddenly began to rehearse "A-RA-SHI". Three days after that happened, we went to Hawaii [T/N: 1999 09 15, the day on which Arashi made its debut in Hawaii]. Before then, I almost never talked with Sho-kun and Ohno-kun, and even when I was informed "You're going to debut", I still didn't know what I was supposed to do.

Because I never tried to think about debuting, and I didn't have that kind of confidence (to think that I could debut). I was just really really uneasy, I felt really scared, thinking "what on earth should I do?"

But I quickly understood that "This isn't the time to say such things". For many days in a row, I worked from morning to night with one thing after another, and I didn't even have time to think or feel confused. At that time, even though I didn't know why, I felt really happy doing my job, so my mindset gradually changed to "No matter what, I can't not do it now".

I became more enthusiastic about it, but I still didn't think that a simple handshaking event would turn out so huge, I really didn't expect so many people to gather. Even though I was told that a hundred thousand copies of our CDs were sold, it couldn't have been sold immediately. I also knew that if we really did shake hands one by one with eighty thousand people, it will be too much. But for those fans, I can't not work hard. After the handshaking event the five of us gathered together and chatted, we were very happy. The manager at that time was a very interesting person too, and as the line moved everyone couldn't stop laughing out loud.

But it's completely different when we're talking whilst working, the high tension that we were on just a moment earlier would go off somewhere. At our first concert tour, the five of us used to practice what to speak (during MCs). "Let's try speaking nonstop for 30 minutes"... can we really talk for that long... we absolutely had no confidence. Plus while we were practicing, someone would forget that they were supposed to be practicing speaking, and just casually walk out of the room.... it was really a mess (laugh). That's why when we perform in concerts and actually talk for more than 30 minutes, we really were very happy, "We can talk~".

When we went to New York with Shounentai's Nishikiori-san for a special program, the people at the Jimusho got very angry with us, saying "You guys did't talk at all in front of the camera!" We noticed that too, so we felt very unhappy. But we really didn't know what to say, and we didn't know how to make (the talking) more interesting. When I was asked by people, "Is it because you don't want to talk?", I would desperately reply, "It's not that!" That was my first time as a part of Arashi to rouse someone's anger. Everyone was very disheartened. To have other people get angry at Arashi really made us depressed. Helplessly watching our own downcast, dejected selves.

True, the five of us have very different personalities. Even if our personalities were different, if we just expressed our "natural selves" while talking, the conversation still can't become interesting. How should we express our individual personalities? Even though I understood from the very beginning that I should exaggerate at least a little bit, otherwise there will be no way to express it, although my brain understands, when we do it in reality I still didn't know how to behave. I watched a lot of concert MCs by our senpai, and also watched a lot of comedic talks on TV. I continued to explore and try things out nonstop, and finally got to the stage I'm at right now.

IV. Things Learnt From Working Alone

It was probably around the time when I started doing "A no Arashi" that my own distinguishing characteristics began to emerge. It feels like a chance that had been given to me, and it was there that I was free to express myself. It was also because of that segment that I could finally become the way I am today.

When I first started "Tensai! Shimura Dobutsuen" I was often at a loss as well, almost never able to add to the dialogue. Even though I was thinking inwardly, "Ah, I want to say something", I could never grasp the right moment. It was really depressing-- every time I would be able to only say one or two words, and then the show would be done filming. The staff even said to me, "You should talk some more". I responded with an enthusiastic "Okay okay!", but inside I was thinking, "This kind of thing I'm the most aware of".

When I'm talking within Arashi, I'm very sure of what kind of role I should act out, so it's a big comfort. But to get to that point, you need a period of time. To be on my own and in a completely new place, I have to start from the beginning and find my own place. This kind of trouble and difficulty was only understood after I started working in this show. There are still many things where I need to start learning from the beginning.

But if I don't do that then there will be no meaning anymore. Even in this kind of (difficult) situation, "To be able to do everything appropriately" was the bottom line of continuing this work. That in itself really isn't anything really hard, because the original intention of asking me to join was to make the show more interesting. I was just worried whether or not I have the ability to do that, I think.

I've mentioned this to Shimura-san as well. After that, he began to teach me many, many things.

Afterwards I told the staff, "I want to do VTR shooting." Because I really couldn't seem to say much when I stayed inside in the studio. I thought that if I could go out and do VTR shooting, I'll have the chance to say lots of things, so I kept on requesting.

That's why when they let me go and do VTR shooting, I was really very happy. And while I thought it was a one-time thing, it eventually became a regular segment. Though there are a lot of brutal shootings with lions and tigers and stuff, it's absolutely no problem at all. I get a feeling like it doesn't even matter if I get bitten.

....But to tell you the truth, I never wanted to say these things in the first place. I don't want to let everyone see this kind of behind-the-scenes stuff. What I want most is to have everyone see how well I present myself on TV. What exactly I had been thinking at that time, I don't want everyone to know at all.

V. The Letter for the Other Members

Working alone like this allowed me to understand a lot of things that I hadn't known of before, like the joy of existing as Arashi, or the things that I can do for the sake of Arashi.

But I really like Arashi. It is my life right now, so I would always unknowingly say things like "Arashi's so cool. I love it" (laugh). Like the letter that I wrote to the other members in "24Jikan Terebi".

But writing that letter really gave me a lot of trouble. I used up an entire university-level notebook for it. I didn't actually plan to write an essay in the beginning, I was planning to just write down all the things that I can remember since our debut and list them out one by one. That alone took up one entire book. Then I wrote an essay after, so I used up two notebooks. I will never let anyone see that, because I wrote down a lot of things, and it's very embarrassing. While I was writing I also remembered all kinds of things that I had long since forgotten, and at times I would cry as I write.

I have very profound memories of "Here we go!", we would chat together every day, and pretty much slept for only an hour or so before leaving to start each concert. If we try that now, we absolutely wouldn't be able to do it (laugh). "Sorry, I'm worried that I might get hurt during the concert so please let me sleep", we'll say stuff like that (laugh).

At that time everyone had really come to a dead end. There was a feeling of crisis, yet we didn't know what to do, and we couldn't see the road ahead of us either, so we all felt very uneasy. If it wasn't because of this, it would have been impossible for us to talk all night like that.

In the year or so after our debut, we received attention because we were looked upon as "The New Group of Johnny's Jimusho". And then in the second and third years after, if we fail to send out signals of our own, people will gradually lose interest in us. To put it more seriously, if the group itself has no charisma, even if you send out your own signals, you will not attract the attention of others.

In this aspect the senpai in our jimusho are amazing. Working hard and trying various things bit by bit, yet they are always able to create something new.

As for Arashi, "We want to do something that no one else can from hereafter", this kind of feeling was very intense. So it wasn't the time to say "Amazing" and go admire our senpai, we should be thinking "We absolutely can't lose to them!"

I've reflected on a lot of things as well, and this is also due to the formation of Arashi. I gradually gained something similar to an objective, and I also began to want to work hard for that objective. I have a ton of things that I want to do right now, and also desires. Needing to know what to solve in order to realize my goal, or the places where I'm still lacking, I am able to see these very concretely, and then also specifically know what I should do. Although there hasn't been any obvious changes that people can tell, but I know. Some of these things have already been incorporated into my heart, and become like a protective talisman to guard my existence.

VI. Falling Ill

It was about two years after Arashi's debut that I fell in love with the saxophone. I really was captivated by it at that time, thinking only about sax-related things, and always playing the saxophone. I never thought that the sax would already become that important to me.

That's why the period of time when I fell ill afterwards was the toughest and most unbearable. [T/N: In March of 2002, Aiba got pneumothorax and was admitted to the hospital for surgery.] Actually, ever since I was a child my body has never been really great, and sicknesses aren't really a stranger to me either. I often went to the hospital to get treated when I was small, and practically became friends with the doctors there. But I never stayed overnight in the hospital before, and (when I got pneumothorax) it was the first time I ever stayed the night, so it was very scary.

I originally wanted to do a live sax performance in Arashi's video [T/N: In June of 2002, Arashi released ALL OR NOTHING, in which members chose things they wanted to challenge and 'level up' on; it's also sort of like a half-documentary video], so I practised nonstop. While I was practising that day I thought, "It really hurts for some reason", then even simply walking was painful too. I really had no forewarnings of any kind, and it gave me a severe shock. Then I underwent surgery, and stayed in the hospital for five days.

My parents were very worried, but it was worth it too. I thought about a lot of things during the period of time while I was staying in the hospital. It coincided right with the promotion period for "Nice na Kokoroiki", so I was unable to do the promotion work too. I really thought I would be kicked out of Arashi. That's why during my hospital stay, to be able to participate in a single live performance, I was very very happy. I was still in a lot of pain because I had just undergone surgery, but it was much better than not showing up at all. All the trouble that I've brought to the other members and the surrounding people was the most painful of all.

I listened to songs by Blue Hearts the entire time that I was at the hospital. Their lyrics are all positive, they were really great. If I listen to Blue Hearts now, I would think of my frame of mind at that time, and even think of the atmosphere in the hospital room. My impressions of that time is really too vivid, sometimes I would even be unable to continue listening to the songs.

I had really wanted to play the saxophone ever since high school. I saw Takeda Shinji playing the sax, and then ran off to the music room at school. But the sax was under lock and key, so I couldn't take it out. (Playing the) sax is very cool, and it's also very profound. When you press down with your fingers at the same time, if the way you blow is different, the sound that you produce is different as well. I had a great time practising.

Because of the sickness, I was unable to do my live sax performance, and at that time I really didn't want to accept it. I had already invited musicians to it, and arranged an area for filming, and I had practised like hell for the performance too. I told the staff, "Just once, please let me play", I begged them many many times, but I still couldn't get permission, and could only give up. In the (ALL OR NOTHING) video, only my part was pure interview.

Now that I think about it, those five days were very precious. They allowed me to draw back and look upon Arashi at a distance. Before that, I already knew I really liked this occupation, and I really cherish it, but it was only at that time that I realized, "I actually like it this much". The scar that was left behind from the surgery remains on my chest to this day, and when I see it every day I would think of my frame of mind at that time, and tell myself, "You have to work hard". (To be able to have that kind of experience) really is a great thing, and I'm unable to forget my feelings at that time too.

Even if I become addicted to the saxophone, I also need to know when enough's enough. This doesn't mean I have to go and hate it, but to stop with a "rou~!" [T/N: I think he's imitating the sound that you make with a saxophone, but I'm not sure...], because it would be bad if you (get too addicted and) give others trouble. I think that's what would really count as having grown up.

VII. Regarding our Five-Year Anniversary

Arashi welcomed its fifth year last year, and even though there was a lot of talk about our thoughts and feelings, in my eyes I don't think it's the time to look back yet. Contrarily, because there's a very real possibility that we would lose our drive if we start retracing our past, I am very worried about this. Presence is a very important thing. If I had accumulated years of experience and skill, then even if I don't have much of a presence I would probably be able to continue on, but at this point in time I don't possess these things yet.

At any rate, I can't not give it my best in everything I do right now. Engaging myself in all kinds of different work, taking in all kinds of different experiences. Someday I will possess "If you talk about this it would definitely be Aiba", that kind of thing. But what exactly "this" is, I don't know yet.

But, this is good. Because if I do know, then I would feel like I just have to do that and everything will be fine. It isn't easy to have an environment where I could experience all kinds of different jobs, so this kind of mindset is wrong.

What kind of ten-year anniversary would we welcome, what kind of style would we develop into, it all hinges on our efforts in the present. We took part in "24Jikan Terebi" last year, and to Arashi that was a type of new beginning. In the days to come, Arashi still needs to demonstrate to even more people the extent of our strength.

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