Do you still have as much support as you had before?
I have announced my complete retirement from the idol/entertainment business when I left Japan. Because of that, I don’t receive as much support as before, well, I didn’t lose any followers and such, but it all became quiet I guess? Many fans tell me they support me in the shadows, not sure if you use that phrase in English haha. But I think you get what I mean. I actually gained lots of new supporters recently because I appeared on TV after my retirement.
Have you ever read about yourself in gossip magazines or on the internet?
I never read anything about myself in real gossip magazines, but on the internet, a lot. Of course, there was a lot of negative stuff but also a ton of positive stuff! Like on 2ch, and hatoroda (an imageboard thing related to Nico Nico broadcasters… and not safe for work so if you look it up be careful). I don’t have much confidence in myself so reading those negative things often made me cry and killed my motivation. But oh well, what can you do.
How did regular people in Japan view you when they found out that you were an idol? What connotations would you say being an idol has in Japan?
I didn’t meet many “regular” people and tell them that I was an idol. But when it happened, they generally treated me positively. Being an idol in Japan nowadays is not something rare anymore, I think you guys know that. There are so many idol groups so it’s not so surprising anymore when some cute girl tells you “I’m actually an idol”. I met lots of cute girls in Japan and many of them were connected to agencies. Most of the girls go to school at the same time, so its more like a part-time job or hobby for them (at least for the ones who were not selling super well or on TV the whole time).
I would say a connotation to being an idol in Japan is, when you try to find a REAL job one day, it’s not really good when somebody looks up your real name and they find all of that idol stuff and bikini shots. I’ve never heard someone talking about that though. Maybe its not really a problem, I am not sure.
Groups like AKB48 constantly makes news with their love ban rule. Does this rule extend to the entire idol world? How was your love life while being an idol? Did the agency have much say in who you dated or whether you dated or not?
Basically, yes, it is for the entire idol world. Certain types of idols can have boyfriends though. But for the usual type of idol, you’re not allowed to have a boyfriend or go on dates.
For me, I guess you could say I had some kind of boyfriend scandal BEFORE I became an idol, in my Nico Nico broadcast days. I was just a normal girl broadcasting, but people got furious at me for having a boyfriend. When I became an idol, it was pretty obvious for me that I couldn’t have a boyfriend. My management never directly told me that I am not allowed to have one. I think they also thought it was just natural. It didn’t have anything like that in my contract either. I fell in love when I was an idol, but I didn’t pursue a relationship. It was pretty hard, since I felt quite lonely, but since I already had a scandal and got exposed (boyfriend leaked chat logs and stuff) before, I was super paranoid and careful during my times as an idol. I didn’t want to take the risk.
One day, something weird happened actually. I had a day off so I went to Nagoya for a Hello! Project concert. There were a few people who knew me, and also a fan of my group. I didn’t have any friends there so I talked to that fan before and after the concert. Two days later my management told me they wanted to talk to me. They got an email from a stranger telling them that they saw me with a fan and thinking I was dating him. Wow. You really gotta be careful, haha. Anyway, I explained my management that I just didn’t know anyone else and I thought it was rude to ignore my fan there and that was the end of that.
Many believe the idol industry to be seedy. What was it like behind the scenes for you? If it’s okay to ask you, how much were you roughly paid and how often? How much input did you have in how you were promoted (as well as clothes and music)?
I can kinda agree with that. Seedy and greedy, haha. Not only for chika-idols (underground idols), but also for bigger idols. The agencies want all the money. Just look at Hello!Project. I’m a huge fan, but their PVs… well. You can see they don’t use much money on their music videos. But especially for chika-idols, which I experienced in first person, I did notice the seediness…
Because of my contract, I cannot say how much I was paid. Sorry.
I had almost no input in our promotion. For music, I was completely satisfied because our music is AMAZING, I am really proud of it. However, for example our outfits… they stayed the same for like a year. The other members and I always talked about how we wanted cuter and prettier outfits, but our management said they don’t want to change it because they want people to recognize us by the outfits…
When I went solo, I was allowed to choose my outfits on my own so I went to buy really flashy cute idol outfits with my own money. Not only for me, but also for the other members and other idols I have met, there were quite a few things behind the scenes that the girls weren’t happy with. But we accepted it because, well, the rest of the job really made us happy.
What was the shadiest thing you witnessed during your life as an idol?
I have witnessed a few of these “idol dating manager/boss” situations. Damn, those really creeped me out. Most of these girls were like 15-17, and they dated their bosses who were 30-40 years old! But I couldn’t say anything against it at the time. It’s something many girls see but won’t talk about…