Rinon, Ooga & Shirai interviewed on "Vocal & Dance Collection" Magazine Vol.1

Sakura Gakuin Nendo 2015 Seniors Rinon Isono, Ooga Saki and Shirai Saki where interviewed by "Vocal & Dance Collection" Magazine released on February 26. The girls talk about their beginnins in Sakura Gakuin, how they joined, practicing chorographies and singing, meeting their previous Student Council Presidents and their impressions about the new album "Kirameki No Kakera". Extensive but very enjoyable interview! Read below. 


Rinon, Ooga and Shirai about their experience in Sakura Gakuin on VCD Magazine

Interview with three of 3rd graders of middle school, Isono Rinon, Shirai Saki and Ooga Saki


This time, we invite three seniors who are going to graduate from the "Limited to the growth period" unit Sakura Gakuin. And we've heard about their days in Sakura Gakuin from them.


The school was founded on April, 2010. The members of Sakura Gakuin is limited to only those who are still under the compulsory education【In Japan, education up to the end of middle school is compulsory】. Sakura Gakuin features 'schooldays life' and think highly of improving each member, through the club activities and like. There are several notable graduates such as Muto Ayami, Miyoshi Ayaka, Matsui Airi, Nakamoto Suzuka, Kikuchi Moa and Mizuno Yui. There are twelve members in Sakura Gakuin now.On March 3, 2016, Sakura Gakuin has published its 6th album 'Kirameki no Kakera' as a compilation of all the activities in Nendo 2015.





Sakura Gakuin Interview -- Isono Rinon

The 3rd grade of middle school / Born on November 16, 2000. / From Kanagawa prefecture.

In her 5th year as a Sakura girl, Isono Rinon-san became the president of student council.

She is the only current member who has an experience of peroforming with all the successive members. We interviewed with her, focusing on her dancing and singing performance, since the days she joined Sakura Gakuin till now.


-Please tell us about the day when you first met with Sakura Gakuin members as a transfer-in student

"Well, I had been working with Muto Ayami-chan, the president of the day, since I was a kindergartner. She had been the person whom every kids-girls admire, and I was so happy to be in the same group with her. I watched the lesson of Sakura Gakuin, and felt excited to see all members -- I had known most of them for years -- were glittering more brightly than usual. So, I didn't get all the lessons as tough at all...although in retrospect, all the lessons were really tough! I was enjoying lessons because I was so happy just to sing and dance with them."


--Do you think you played well in dancing and singing?

"I had been learning dancing since I was a kindergartner. I had experience in Jazz-dancing, Hip-hop and Break-dancing. So I had thought I'd be able to play well. But the choreography of Mikiko-sensei is very unique and different from the dancing which we can learn at an ordinary dancing school. The most of the movement were related with the lyrics and it's very difficult to express the choreo well. At the beginning, I could hardly keep up with the pace of the lessons. I couldn't give a good facial expression at all. I just practiced it over and over again, and finally I got a bit of the knack.

As of singing, I was just a novice. Before joining Sakura Gakuin, I had listened to only Reggae-music. I knew nothing about Idol songs. I listened to Sakura Gakuin songs just before my audition for the first time, and thought "Wow, there is this kind of music in the world'. Since then, I've been trying to hear several kind of music. As of Sakura Gakuin songs, I love the lyrics with which I can sympathize. I think the lyrics also remind Fukei-sans of their younger days. I like to think about the meaning of the lyrics, and I had always carried a lyric-sheet with me."


--You've been trying to sing, with thinking about the meaning of the lyrics, haven't you?

"I couldn't do it right at all, at first. Gradually, I came to think I should send what I felt straightforwardly. Sometimes I feel uneasy about whether I could send the feeling to Fukei-sans or not...but nowadays, I'm trying to enjoy and express what I've got from the song."


--How do you practice your singing and dancing personally?

"On my housetop floor, I put spikes (the markings to show the correct position) and having free practice of dancing by myself. I don't practice singing along with dancing. I practice singing without dancing, focusing on the lyrics. I practice dancing without singing, focusing on wild and bold movement. Also, I take physical training such as sit-ups in order to build up physical endurance to perform singing and dancing together. I've been practicing a lot more than before since I turned a senior."


--Is it because of a sence of responsibility as a senior?

"When I instruct juniors to have free practice, I also have to do by myself. I had likely been in the rightmost or leftmost position in a formation because of my height, but since when I turned a senior, I've got more chance to perform at the center position. And in singing, I've got the solo-lines which the successive president had been singing. Once I was so eager to succeed the tradition that I forgot being true to myself. Now I'm trying to show more of myself, in more Rinon-like way of expressing. That've made me practice more and more."


--Are there anything different between the days when you first appeared on the stage and these days?

"When I was transfered-in, we played on the venue which hold about 300 audience. Now, more than 1000 people come to see us. The sight from the stage has totally changed. I'm very glad to see more and more pink-flags every time we play a concert. When I was new to Sakura Gakuin, I was so nervous on the stage that I was always feeling uneasy whether I could perform the choreo correctly. Now, I have a confidence in me with years of effort. And I want to send the songs to Fukei-sans properly with our live-singing."


--What did you think when you were appointed to the president?

"I know every one of the successive presidents. And I thought I'd never be able to be the one. I was not fond of standing out. As a senior, I didn't want to show my weakness to other members. I couldn't consult with anyone about my worries or anxieties. I was afraid that consulting with someone would make other members uneasy. So, I was really lonely and uneasy when I think of my becoming the president. Can I be a good leader like the former presidents? Can I succeed the tradition properly?

But, when I was appointed to the president, I could hear a lot of warm hand-clapping of Fukei-sans. That made me feel easy and I decided to try my best. I had not expected to be the president, but the hand-clapping made me really happy. Also, I met some graduates and they made me settled. I just thought 'No matter what, I've got to do it!'"






Sakura Gakuin Interview -- Ooga Saki

The 3rd grade of middle school / Born on April 11, 2000. / From Tokyo prefecture.

In her 4th year as a Sakura girl, 'lovely sister' 'cutey BABY' Ooga Saki-san was unexpectedly appointed to the Education Chairperson. We interviewed with her, focusing on her performance on the stage and things she keeps in mind as the Education Chairperson, since the day she joined Sakura Gakuin and first met Nakamoto Suzuka-san till now.


--Please tell us about the day when you first met with Sakura Gakuin members as a transfer-in student

"It was the day we took profile-photos. I had been a huge fan of 'Karen Girl's' and I felt so excited to see long-admiring Nakamoto Suzuka-chan in person. I remember I took photos with her by my cell-phone. Then, all members played charades. I played 'a guitarist' and others. It was so fun and we became friends in an instance."


--Do you think you played well in dancing and singing from the beginning of lessons?


"Since long before joining AMUSE, I had been very fond of dancing in front of a mirror. But I felt embarassed when I danced at the lesson studio for the first time. I could hardly believe every girls were taking lessons with full of their smiles. And I found my dancing and singing were poorer than expected. I couldn't create contrasts in dancing at all. I coudn't sing with a stress. I was playing just plainly. I felt every girls were so 'professional'."



--Are there anything different between the days when you first appeared on the stage and these days?

"At first, I had been under extreme tension and couldn't enjoy it. Also, I felt it very tough physically. Anyways, I was just trying hard desperately. Nowadays, I'm trying to show my dancing and singing to the audience. I can enjoy performing and I feel happy to show myself. And also, to be honest, I felt a bit scared at the Fukei-sans who were so energetic. In retrospect, I should have felt gratitude to them for cheering a newcomer up. Now, Fukei-sans are my precious who are always supporting me, watching me over."


--What do you think is important on the stage?

"I'm short and it's hard to send my performance to the audience in the back of the venue. So I'm trying to make a big movement, especially in my upper body. I had been thinking that I should dance just precisely. But in these days, I've come to see several other performers and found that I can send totally different performance by a bold movement of my upper body. I'm keeping it in mind on a stage."


--How do you practice your dancing personally?

"In the lesson studio, I think we should focus on completing our dancing formation. To practice choreography of my own must be done in my home. I'm taking care to make a correct movement, to give a good facial expression, or to give a expressive singing at the free practice in my home. This year, I found my expression is always the same, and I'm considering to change it at the next concert."


--How do you think about your singing?

"I love singing. Since I was a kid. I've been singing in a bath since those days.It's humid in a bath and it's good for my throat. Also, I record my singing by a voice-recorder and listen to it. As you know, the recorded-voice sounds very different. Even though I feel I could sing well, the recorded voice could be bad. So I practice singing again and again till my recorded voice sounds good. And I often sing in front of my mom. She says like 'You look very pleased with your singing. But I don't feel it good at all'...she is very stern. But she makes me find something."


--Now you are the Education Chairperson. I think you had been a girl who are cherished by others. What did you think when you were appointed to the Education Chairperson, with as many as six transfer-ins?

"As you've said, I've been short and always been said to be shorty. I had never imagined I'd be appointed to the Education Chairperson. Now that I'm the one, I've decided to speak clearly what is bad and what is good.And also, I've learned several things from my senpais. I want to send such things to kouhais. I think it the most important to be close to kouhais -- to care about them with putting myself in their shoes. I want to listen to them as a fellow member, rather than as a superior senpai."





Sakura Gakuin Interview -- Shirai Saki

The 3rd grade of middle school / Born on September 28, 2000. / From Niigata prefecture.

In her 3rd year as a Sakura girl, 'ex-Fukei' Shirai Saki-san was appointed to the Talk Chairperson. Her MCing pulls out new aspects of each Sakura girls with her point of view as a Fukei. We asked her about her days as a Sakura girl, since the day she joined Sakura Gakuin to now.


--Please tell us about the day when you first met with Sakura Gakuin members as a transfer-in student

"I had been an AMUSE KIDS girl since long before, and I had already made friends with girls of the same age. As a transfer-in, I first met with them at a voice-training. Every members were very different than usual -- they were emitting the auras of professional! I had been adoring them and I was just pleased to see them."



--Do you think you played well in dancing and singing from the beginning of lessons?

"I had no confidence in my singing and dancing. So I had been thinking I'd have to try my very hardest to keep up with other members. But still, I had been too optimistic. I was overwhelmed by the difference between other member's skills and mine. I was out of pitch in my singing, and my physical endurance didn't allow me to keep upwith them in dancing. I found difficulties in remembering the choreo, and senpais kindly instructed me. It was really tough."


--We assume you, as an ex-Fukei, had known about the performance of Sakura Gakuin.

"Yes, I had been watching their DVDs and had been trying to mimic the performance. But to perform by myself and to mimic are tottaly different. The choreo defines very detail of movements and...it was tough to learn."


--Are there any difference between the days when you first appeared on the stage and these days?

"At first, I was so uneasy on the stage. When I was a transfer-in, I was likely standing at the backward position and I could watch the performance of senpais and adjust my dancing. Nowadays, I have a good chance to perform at the front of the formation, and I'm trying to perform with the mind 'Kouhais, just follow me!'"


--How do you practice your dancing and singing personally?

"I usually practice my dancing in front of my mom. I think it good to have someone watching my practice. It makes me more conscious of an audience. I practice singing along with dancing.At first, it was really difficult to sing along with dancing. I had got exhausted by just playing the climax of a song. So I keep practicing singing and dancing at once in order to build my physical endurance."


--Now you are the Talk Chairperson. What did you think when you were appointed to the Talk Chairperson?

"I had no idea what role I'd be assigned. I was very surprised. I had known former Talk Chairpersons, and I felt I wouldn't be able to speak well like them. But since I'm appointed to the Talk Chairperson, I can't help but do my best. At first, I had been too conscious of my being Talk Chairperson. The more I tried to speak well, the more I got clumsy. I sometimes felt very depressed with that. But now, I think I can enliven our talking, with considering personality of each girl. I'll try my best."







Sakura Gakuin Interview -- Isono Rinon, Ooga Saki, Shirai Saki

"We want to send the good friendship of us. We're really getting along with each other"


--It's the last album for you. How do you feel about it?

Shirai: "It hasn't sunk in yet. I can't believe I've finished something."

Ooga: "Yeah."

Shirai: "I still feel I'd take recording of some more songs".

Ooga: "Indeed."

Isono: "We released the debut song of Sakura Gakuin with re-recording on December. So, we had relesed few truely-new songs in this year. But in this new album, you can hear our new songs of the year. Please enjoy them."

Ooga: "The lyrics of the new songs are very 'Sakura Gakuin 2015'-like. Very positive and forward-looking. We're singing 'We shall smile our best in order to achieve our dreams'"

Shirai: "Go-home Club, Science Club, Koubaibu and Mini-pati...all club songs are newly recorded and you can enjoy the new sound of our voices."

Ooga: "We took recording of 'Yume ni Mukatte' at the very beginning of 2015nendo. It was when we just turned seniors and there were no recordings of transfer-ins' singing."

Shirai: "We were wondering who'd be transfer-ins."

Ooga: "So, you can enjoy our singing...how can I say...'unrefined' one? And very fresh singing of transfer-ins."


--Which was the song you took recording very lastly?

Ooga: "It was 'Yakusoku no Mirai'".


-Then, the voices in 'Yume ni Mukatte' and 'Yakusoku no Mirai' are very different?

All: Very!

Ooga: "I think my attitude toward 'singing' has improved in this year a lot -- improved more than my improvement in the previous three years. My attitude at the recording of 'Yume ni Mukatte' and 'Yakusoku no Mirai' are very different".


--Concretely, please

Ooga: "The way of my practice in singing has changed in this year. 'Yakusoku no Mirai' was the very last song for me and I was determined to make 100% success. I considered the meaning of the lyrics deeper than any other songs, and I practiced it more than any other songs."


--Which is your most-recommend song, other than 'Yakusoku no Mirai'?

Ooga: "I wanna recommend 'Suimin Busoku' of Go-home Club. I think the charm of the Go-home Club lies in its comical and funny atmosphere. I focused on sending that atmosphere. We took recording of the song from early in the morning to the night. We had a difficult time with the speaking lines. The lines are of our own writing. Three of Go-home Club members discussed on the lines and show our idea to teachers and were rejected because 'it's too dramatic' or 'not fun'...again and again. It was very tough and finally we completed it. Please listen to it carefully, especially in speaking lines."


Shirai: "My favorite is the title song 'Kirameki no Kakera'. I love the lyrics of it, the melody of it, everything. Whenever I perform it, it reminds me of my Sakura Gakuin days. And it gives me power to take a step toward the future. The choreography of the song is very cute. Please listen to it with visualizing our dancing."


Isono: "I recommend 'School days'. It was the very first song I performed in front of Fukei-sans after my transfer-in. So, I've been performing the song for longer period than any other songs. I'm very glad we could put the song into the album. If you watch old footage of the song, you'll find the voice of us have totally changed. Also, my mind toward the lyrics has changed a lot. I hope you enjoy our improvement."


--How did you feel when you got the seniors-only song 'Michishirube'?

Shirai: "I felt the song very cute. The melody was soft and warm and...just cute. But after listening to it carefully, I found the lyrics were very meaningful I felt the song was very encouraging."


Ooga: "Yes. I also felt the lyris were wonderful. I thought the lyrics fit three of us very well. I was so glad to have the song as our seniors-only song."


Isono: "I felt the song was a bit of rap-music and unusual as a Sakura Gakuin song. But the lyrics reminded me a lot of memories of Sakura Gakuin days."


--How was the recording of the song?

Isono: "At the beginning and the ending, there are 'La,lala〜la♪' chorus parts. I took the recording of it, imagining I'm singing the part along with Fukei-sans."


Ooga: "At the second verse, there are lines '真っ白なこの心で奏でた夢の音本気の希望咲かせた日々Masshiro na Kono Kokoro de Kanadeta Yume no Oto Honki no Kibou Sakaseta Hibi' 【A dream-like music played with pure-white hearts, Days in which we tried to make a lot of flowers of hope bloom wholeheartedly】. The kanji characters of our names are used in the lyrics.【白,音,希,咲】I sang trying to send my heart in the lines."


Shirai: "I also felt the lines special. I thought only three of us can sing the lines properly.I fell in love with the lines in an instance. I sang with visualizing two of other seniors."


--How do you like to perform the song on the stage?

Ooga: "With little concern of the proper choreo, I wanna show our good friendship."


Shirai: "Three of us joined Sakura Gakuin in different year, and we had not been so close before we turned seniors. We had not been in bad terms, but not so close. In this year, three of us must lead the Sakura Gakuin, and it made us super close rapidly. lol I wanna send the close relationship."


Isono: "I want to send the good friendship of us, too. We're really getting along with each other."


Ooga: "Since when we turned seniors. Before then, not so. (Laughs)"


Isono: "We joined in different years and we had been reserved a bit. We once had a Friedship-Book and tried to make friends with..."


Shirai: "You lost the book soon. (Laughs)"


Isono: "We had been saying we'd have to strengthen our solidarity, but when we turned seniors, before we knew it, we had a solidarity as a team. Nowadays, we are always together. If someone is missing, I feel very lonely. I think only three of us in this good relation can send the song. The lyrics are superb, and I guess Fukei-sans will feel a little sad. But 'Too much feels' are out of character of us...I want you to enjoy the song, joyfully."


--Now you have little time left till your graduation. How will you spend the remaining days?

Shirai: "I think 2015nendo was 'a year of a change' for Sakura Gakuin with as many as six transfer ins. That's especially why we must send the tradition of Sakura Gakuin to kouhais, must show what is 'very Sakura Gakuin-like'. With keeping good tradition, we must keep growing up. I want to assure the establishment of such Sakura Gakuin and entrust it to kouhais."


Ooga: "I had been too absorbed in doing what I think I must do. So, I want to enjoy everything from the bottom of heart, with keeping doing what I shoud do. I want to make more and more good memories as a Sakura girl."


Isono: "I am the only member who shared times with founding members. So I want to send everything of Sakura Gakuin to kouhais till my graduation. How a Sakura Gakuin song is written, what's the meaning of each choreography, and so on. I want to make kouhais start 2016nendo Sakura Gakuin with confidence."


--Thank you very much

All: "Thank you very much."




Check the full scans of Rinon, Ooga and Shirai on "Vocal & Dance Collection" Magazine, click here

"Vocal & Dance Collection" is a free distribution Magazine available only at Tower Records Shops in Japan. 

Translation and Scans by: Onji Kobe

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