Sakura Gakuin 2014 graduation interview on CD Journal Magazine April

CD Journal Magazine interviewed the 10 Sakura Gakuin members to promote Graduation Ceremony which took place at NHK Hall past March 29. The CD Journal April's issue asked Sakura Gakuin about the Happy Valentines event, the new album Kimi Ni Todoke, LoGiRL and the Graduation Event. Read the full interview released on March 20, 2015.

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CD Journal extensive interview with Sakura Gakuin

It has come again this year-the graduation season.

So accordingly we have featured the members of Sakura Gakuin who are on the precipice of graduating in this 2014 school year on our cover and in the opening pages. 

What are they thinking about at the moment?! (Of course what they say will be interesting)

That time is upon us.

-At the Liquid Room live performance, `The Road to Graduation 2014- Happy Valentine -` you sang graduation songs for the first time in this school year, correct? It made me feel that THAT time is now upon us.

Moa Kikuchi: "This is a song that was created for us in teh era of Su-chan (Nakamoto Suzuka), and so we never truly realized that one day we would be singing it as students about to graduate. Since we have the rule of having to graduate from Sakura Gakuin we were aware that this would come about but somewhere we didn`t want to accept it as a fact. Speaking honestly, when we sang this song at that venue I felt very lonely and sad. There were some fans who were also shedding tears (laughs)."

Hana Taguchi"We ourselves were not so cognizant of the approaching graduation so when we saw the Fukei-san crying it brought this to our consciousness. The dance movements differ for the 3rd graders and the non-graduating students for these graduation songs. So once we started practicing the dance movements that we had seen the graduates perform we started to realized bit by bit that we ourselves were about to graduate."

Yui Mizuno"There were quite a few people crying."

Aiko Yamaide"Some of those crying were men!"

Kikuchi"They were crying as soon as we started singing, `Jump Up – Chiisana Yuuki`".

Mizuno: "When listening to “My Graduation Toss” not from the side of sending off graduating students but rather from the side of one graduating there was a different way of experiencing the song than I had felt previously. It made me feel that I would soon actually be graduating."

-What is the atmosphere of the group at present?

Taguchi: "It feels like we have finally achieved a good feel to the group."

Ooga Saki: "Yes, it makes me feel like I want to do more and continue on as we are now. It does seem real that there will be a graduation ceremony soon."

Yunano Notsu: "That seems to happen with graduation every year with the group just becoming a united one just prior to graduation."

Ooga"I wish the same grade would continue twice! I want to stay in the same grade."

Megumi Okada"Staying behind one year?"

Ooga: "Yes, staying behind one year!"

-It wouldn`t do to have you stay behind one year (Laughs)

Before Kikuchi Moa-san was saying taht it was not possible to put on a satisfying live performance with the group the way it has become.

Kikuchi"The 3rd grade students are busy doing there various clubs like HGS and Babymetal and we get scattered in different directions often. We were lacking in stamina and concentration in live performances and there were many occasions where we were not at our best. I don`t think we showed the true colors of the 2014 Nendo group all the way through our 2014 December live shows. I think that it was finally at the recent Liquidroom show that we all trusted each other and were able to deliver our best to everyone".


Ooga"At the time of the September live performance some of us felt that “finally the 2014 Nendo has begun”. When it came down to us actually performing we were not able to put on shows that satisfied us. It feels like we have really just gotten started only recently. I have finally gotten the actual feeling that the level of our performances has suddenly and rapidly gone up."


-Considering that you are just now able to perform live shows that you are satisfied with so close to the time you will graduate I can understand that you may want to be held back for one more school year (laughs).

Kikuchi"Ah, that really zonked me (laughs). Makes one feel lonely. I can`t believe it."


Taguchi"I always knew that `someday I we will graduate`, but that was always of the feeling of `someday, some indefinite day`."


Yamaide"It came up us so fast."


Kikuchi: "When we are all together we are laughing all the time but recently there have been many times where it is just us 3rd graders together for some media coverage. When we are talking about one another it of course makes us feel sad."


Notsu: "It wasn1t like this until very recently and that feeling that we are about to graduate comes through not only in these media coverage events but also when we were recording the album."


Kikuchi: "Yes, but I have decided that in the end I will not cry."


-Every member says that every year (laughs)

Yamaide: "That is so true. Everyone says that every year!"


Kikuchi: "I think Rinon will cry this year. (*Rinon has never cried at a past graduation ceremony.)"


Isono Rinon: "Nah, I don`t think I will cry. I won`t cry until it is my turn to graduate. No problem."


Kikuchi: "If she won`t cry for us that in itself is a bit sad perhaps (laughs). I want to make her cry."


Isono: "Don`t make me cry."


Taguchi: "Hana might be able to make her cry."


Kikuchi: "Yes, since you both entered SG at the same time."


-It is quite amazing that Isono-san has not cried before. That must mean that she is thinking and feeling a lot of things inside her mind. . Don`t you think?

Isono: "I am feeling many things. I am just bearing through it."


-You are trying to be patient and not give in, right?


Isono: "Because I think that graduating from Sakura Gakuin is the first step to becoming a Super Lady I feel one can`t grow if one doesn`t overcome those feelings of sadness and unease. So, I do my best not to give in to them."


Ooga: "Oooh"


-That is so admirable. Kurashima-san, this is your first time to send off your Senpai. How do you feel?

Sara Kurashima"Well, I want to do my best not to cry but since I they have helped me so much and have taught me so much I might cry because of all these feelings of gratitude I have inside."


Ooga"Since you cry when you recall some certain episode I think it is best to try and keep your mind blank so as not to remember those episodes on the day of graduation."


-But since there is a ceremony it must be difficult to not be caught up in it. (laughs)

Ooga: "I will try to go into the void and keep a natural look on my face!"


-I will pay close attention to Ooga-san`s natural face at the graduation ceremony. How about Shirai-san?

Shirai Saki"I cried quite a bit last year. So, this year I hope to at least not let my face get all out of whack. I get kind of ugly when I cry. I can`t cry in a cute way like Yunano-chan."


Ooga: "She is so cute when she cries!"


Shirai: "I want to be able to cry and still look nice like that but it is not possible. I do my best and try to control it but still cry."


-I see. Notsu-san`s was of crying is beautiful.

Shirai: "That`s right!"


Yamaide: "Beautiful!"


Notsu: "That is the first time for me to hear that (laughs). How do I cry?"


Yamaide: "Hmm... well, you cover your mouth with your hand."


Ooga: "And it is so graceful. Like this (gestures wiping away tears)."


Isono: "She looks like the parents who cry on Parent`s day at school (laughs). She has a feeling that resembles a mother."


Photo from Moa's diary
Photo from Moa's diary

That is also something to look out for then.

Isono: "I will try to pay attention to how I cry next time (laughs)."


-Elementary student 6th grader`s battle

When we interviewed you last time (2014 November edition), we learned that you got in trouble with the 3rd graders because the dorm rooms were a mess. How has that worked out now?

Yamaide; "Hai! I think they are really clean!"


-That was a quick reply (laughs).

Isono: "But I think it depends on the day in question."


Yamaide: "When I am tired and go to bed right after taking a bath I go to bed wrapped in a bath towel (laughs). I think Megu is the sloppiest one."


Okada: "Why do you say that?! Megu is not dirty!"


Ooga: "Here we go!"


-The sparks fly between the 6th graders!

Okada: "This term Megu is cleaning up quite nicely, you know."


Okada: "That`s right!" 


Kikuchi: "But there is still a lot of stuff lying around (laughs)."


Okada: "No way. I pick up even small pieces of trash and even eraser remains and throw them away!"


Yamaide: "But it is dirty."


-As usual your battle is a lot of fun.


Yamaide: "Doumo, doumo."


-Are you always in your daily lives going at it verbally like this?

Yamaide: "Yes."


Kikuchi: "Just like this."


Okada: "That is not true!"


Yamaide: "Nah, Megu doesn`t want to get entangled with me."

Okada: "Yeah, well that is because you are like, `Aiko-sama`, you know."


Yamaide: "Well, you know...That kind of ticks me off when you say things like that."


Taguchi: "Do you get angry?"


Yamaide: "I don`t get angry.. but I do feel like I am about to lose it sometimes."


Taguchi: "That means you are angry (laughs)."


-The Senpai look upon these kind of situations with a kind eye and just let things take their course.

Kikuchi: "Just leaving them alone is the best way to go (laughs)."


Taguchi: "But I think everyone has been too kind."


Kikuchi: "Yes, we don`t get angry."


Ooga: "True, but as we advance in school years we can not just keep quarreling. We have to be able to stand in the other person`s place and listen patiently to what others say. I think it is only when we are still in elementary school that we are able to not worry about what we say and say what we want. I think it is good to say as much as they want at this time in their lives."


-Do you think the two of them will grow out of quarreling with each other?

Mizuno: "Conversely, I hope they stay like this."


Kikuchi: "It would be kind of lonely if they stopped." 


Yamaide: "But personally I would like to stop."


Everyone: Laughs


Yamaide: "But, but there are things about her that really tick me off. When we are together all the time we find things we don`t like about each other. They say that it is easier to spot the things that you don`t like about a person than the things you do."


Okada: "I`m so Soooorry! (laughs)"


Taguchi: "Then again they say that the better you get along with someone the more you fight with them."


Kikuchi: "Really they are good friends."


Yamaide: "(becoming shy) I am not so happy."


Okada: "That is a bit harsh, you know."


Kikuchi: "Whenever I listen to their problems or stories I feel that both of them are correct in their feelings. I am envious of their ability to say their feelings honestly. The 3rd graders don`t say what they really think to the others."


Taguchi: "From the outset there are not any things that I find disagreeable."


-I have never come across anyone who says to another member during an interview that that member ticks them off (laughs). Okada-san, do you really not worry about being spoken to like that?

Okada: "Yes, this is the first friend Megu has made that I can fight with."


-That is a comment that makes me want to cry (being moved). This relationship will be fun to watch. So the 3rd graders have finished recording their final Sakura Gakuin recording. You are finishing each part of your Sakura Gakuin life one by one.

Mizuno: "Yes, today is our final media coverage with all of us together."


Notsu: "Yeah, there are a lot of ends coming like the last song we will sing at our last live performance."


Yamaide: "Yes there are some songs we will never sing with the 10 of us."


Kikuchi: "I don`t want to think of it."


Everyone: (quiet)


-It goes without saying that when this topic comes up everyone gets a melancholic.

Kikuchi: "However last year there was not such a strong feeling of `graduation`. Since the 3rd graders carried out everything with such a fun and happy spirit the rest of us as well were not overly focused on it. It was like on the day of graduation that we suddenly realized, `Ah, they are really graduating`. If we just approach things vigorously and with a sense of joy the everything will go well I feel." 


Talking about the Album

-So let`s talk about the 2014 Nendo album. The Baton club`s `Angel and Devil` is included.

Kikuchi: "This was originally done by the Baton club in 2013 Nendo but the teachers asked us what kind of song we wanted to do next. At that time Yunano said that she wanted to perform `Angel and Devil`, but we were not able to do it at that time. Then this year the Baton club took on a new form and were able to perform `Angel and Devil`. Since it had not been included on an album before it was decided that it would go on this one."


-Notsu-san`s wish made its way through a whole year.

Notsu: "Yes, but I don`t think that was the only reason for it."


-Yes, however a B-side single from 4 years ago that gets recorded for an album at this timing I feel must have been largely due to Notsu-san`s opinion. I think that is quite amazing.

Notsu: "I was really happy."


Ooga: "I think that probably no one wants to hear this story but..."


-What kind of a lead in is that (laughs). Please let us hear it.

Ooga: "It is a fact that Saki`s father loves the Baton club. What is it that he likes about it? Well, he plays the guitar and often listens to the back drum and bass sounds of their songs. And apparently he especially likes the sound of `Angel and Devil`. When I told him that we would be doing this song he was as happy as we were."


Kikuchi: "That is really cute (laughs)"


Ooga: "My father really loves Sakura Gakuin and will often talk abou the differences between the back sounds of the Tennis club and the Science club."


Kikuchi: "Sounds like your family really gets along with one another."


Ooga: "Everyone in my family likes songs. Excuse me for jumping in like that with a story about my family."


-No, not at all. Thank you (laughs). Also the Pro Wrestling lovers club`s `Spin in the Wind` was recorded for the album. You got really involved with 1.4 doing talks with Okada Kazuchika-san, appearing in pro wrestling events like the `Big pro wrestling Festival 2015 and so on.

Taguchi: "I was really happy. It was so amazing that the thing I had been hoping to come to reality for so long actually did before graduating. Plus, I hope you will take a look at the illustrations on the lyrics card."


Isono: "There is an illustration that looks like the `Shinnichi Pro wrestling` logo is eating the Sakura Gakuin logo. It is a collaboration."


Taguchi: "That`s right! That made me so happy! I wanted that lion to roar at me."


-You wanted to be eaten by the Shinnichi lion (laughs). Goes to show you that you chase after what you want to do, what you like.


Taguchi: "That is so true!"


-That is how it is with `Angel and Devil` as well. The Senpai are showing us that dreams do come true.

Taguchi: "I am going to run my mouth off saying the things I want to do from now on. So much that that is about all I will talk about."


Ooga: "But yes that is true. You never know at what timing your dreams will come true so it is a good idea to say what you want to do I feel."


-Shirai-san, it is not the time and place for you to be watching `LoGiRL` as a fan. (This started to be broadcast from January of this year over the Internet. Shirai had not appeared on the show until its 6th episode when she appeared as a surprise guest.)

Shirai: "That is true. It seems I would never be on. I wonder what that was all about."


Taguchi: "Kind of like being forever a viewer."


Photo from Oricon Style
Photo from Oricon Style

-So actually you want to appear?

Shirai: "Yes, I want to be on the show! Just watching it all the time I am using up a huge amount of telecommunication`s connection time and money."


-You are known as an ex-Fukei yourself but it seems that you still watch the show as if you are present day Fukei even though you are a member yourself of Sakura Gakuin. How does it feel to have a member like that in the group?

Kikuchi: "C-chan talks with us based on a different way of seeing and feeling things. She teaches us that the Fukei may be thinking of this and that about Sakura Gakuin."


-I see. So you can get the direct scoop on the fan`s impressions.

Taguchi: "Just a bit ago we were talking about the dorms, right? That they are messy. At that time in the end Shirai brought up the viewpoint of how the Fukei would see things."


Isono: "She said balling her eyes out."


Yamaide: “And to think I had such a starstruck image of Sakura Gakuin”, she said (laughs)."


Mizuno: "Those words had a strong impact on our hearts and minds and we felt we all had to get our act together more."


-I see. Sakura Gakuin is not expected to dirty up their rooms like this! (laughs)

Shirai: "That`s right. When everyone is so bright and shiny on stage like that it is ludicrous that the rooms would be so messy. I didn`t want that ideal image of SG to be destroyed."


Ooga: "I have always wanted to ask C-chan this. It was the 2012 Nendo generation of Sakura Gakuin that you liked so much, right? From that time new members have joined, right? Do you look upon Megu and Sara also from the viewpoint of a Fukei?"


Shirai: "Yeah, of course! I look at the photo sets and think, they sure are cute and things like that (laughs)."


Staff: It is only 1 person`s reaction (C-chan`s) that is different from everyone else when they get merchandise.

Shirai: "The 2 new transfer students this year have such interesting characters and it is so nice to see them blooming evermore this year started. From the Fukei point of view we would like to see the appear more in `LoGiRL` so we can see more of their characters. Sara has so many more strange sides to her. There are so many sides of their individuality that I want everyone to see like Megu`s soft and fluffy side."


-From the point of view of a Fukei-san how do you feel about these 4 girls graduating?

Shirai: "I think that losing these 4 shining lights will be a big thing. The current students are a bit plain or bland...."


Isono: "She said we are bland (laughs)"


Shirai: "They (we?) will have to do our best and try to shine. This is because the 4 3rd graders all have such amazing auras. But the Fukei-san are, I am sure, confident that the current students can also come to shine. They are counting on it."


-It is like you are talking about something that doesn`t include yourself at all.

Everyone: Hahahaha....!


Words from the Graduates

-When I see these kinds of exchanges between the members I feel that the future of Sakura Gakuin is just fine. How do the 3rd graders feel about it?

Kikuchi: "This year we went from 12 members to 10 members. I feel that some of the weight or the feeling has dropped away. And with these 4 also going away I feel it may be even more moving in that direction. But, the character of these members is amazing."


Taguchi: "Yes, each one has so much power that I am sure everything will be just fine."


Yamaide: "Ah, I am so worried!"


Taguchi: "I would like to leave the guidance of the new transfer students up to Aiko."


Yamaide: "Well, yes, but that also depends upon the personalities of the transfer students as well. If a member comes in with a `Ussu!` (kind of a martial arts, tough guy kind of greeting) type of strong character it could be kind of scary."


Taguchi: "That is Aiko (laughs)"


Notsu: "The Aiko of before was like that."


Taguchi: "I thought, `Wow, a really tough, strong girls has joined us` (laughs)"


Ooga: "Well, C-chan is the dorm leader but if she gets busy with 3rd grade activities perhaps Aiko could become the leader."


Yamaide: "That is scary. I will have to absorb as much as I can of C-chan`s activities!"


-It is true that all of you have very powerful personalities. It seems that Kurashima-san`s interesting side is starting to jell.

Kurashima: "It that happening?"


Everyone: Happening, happening, it`s happening!


Taguchi: "Sara is not the kind of girl to make comments from her own thoughts but in spite of that she is extremely strong. She has a firm grasp on herself."


Yamaide: "I totally understand that!"


Kurashima: "Really? You don`t think I get thrown off course sometimes?"


Yamaide: "Speaking like that means that you don`t get thrown around you see!"


Kurashima: "Hehehe..."


Okada: "It is hard to tell what she is thinking when she laughs like that (laughs)"


-By the way, in the last interview the story came up that Kurashima-san likes to wrap herself up in a blanket when she goes to bed.


Kurashima: "Ahh! Recently I properly lay out a blanket and sleep and sleep under the covers. Of course-it is winter."


-Yes, it really is cold. As you all already know Kurashima-san doesn`t speak so much but she sure is funny. (laughs) We have really gotten off track from talking about the album. The final stage really takes on a good development, I think.


Okada: "You came here to make us cry, right?"


Taguchi: "There are not many opportunities to sing the newly recorded songs but please be looking forward to the dance movements created by Mikiko-sensei."


Q: Well we are about to run out of time. I would like to ask the 3rd graders to wrap things up for us. Speaking concisely and frankly, what kind of live performance do want the graduation ceremony to be?

Kikuchi: "It is hard for me to believe that we who have been sending off graduates are now on the being sent off side and I can`t begin to imagine life without Sakura Gakuin but I have learned that even if we are separated our hearts and minds are unified as one and I feel that we have grown gradually into that one. I hope to end it with a smiling face."


Mizuno: "Yui is also sad about graduating but time will not wait for us. In the remaining time I would like to pass on to the Kouhai the things I hope they will continue. I hope to bring the 10 of us together as one and not only for the concert hall but also for the living viewing fans that come to watch at movie theatres I hope we can provide a performance that will remain in their hearts."


Notsu: "I entered Sakura Gakuin at the same time I entered Jr. High school so in one sense Sakura Gakuin feels to me like my real school. I still have fully realized that I am about to graduate and I feel there are still areas regarding performing that I am lacking in so I hope to grow in the time left remaining and deepen the bonds between the 10 of us."


Taguchi: "There is only a little bit of time left remaining, but rather than getting melancholy I would rather spent it laughing. I hope I can graduate smiling. I want this year`s show to be the best live performance."