―This summer is your debut fifth anniversary. Furthermore, about three years have passed since your previous interview, and I want to hear about the parts that have and haven't changed about Kis-My-Ft2 and Fujigaya-kun.
"Our hairstyles have changed a lot, haven't they (lol)."
―That's true (lol). Your group activities are going well without change?
"Hmm, the seven of us have always been frantic to survive, so I don't really have the sense of 'going well,' to be honest. However, what I still think is that after our debut, it wasn't due to our own power that the group took off swiftly, but because of the people around us pushing our backs. I think it's thanks to our senpai, fans, company, and staff that we've made it to today."
―As one big happening in the group, the formation of Busaiku by the four members Yokoo-kun, Miyata-kun, Nikaido-kun, and Senga-kun can be brought up, right?
"That's true. It's really promising. The four of them can go to variety programs and regularly bring something back to Kisumai for us. Although of course I think that those four were also conflicted at first."
―What kind of conflict is that?
"I don't know if it's something okay for me to reveal, but based on what I saw I felt that in the beginning the four of them were unsure and confused. I have the feeling that Kento was the most unsure. Saying 'unsure' may be misleading, but he has a serious personality and I think he had something like puzzlement if it would benefit the group or not."
"Reversely, Nika decided at a quick pace that Busaiku would benefit the group. I felt that they made the decision that it was the best path for the four of them to come to life. Before the recording when the four were told they look gloomy, I saw Nika say to the other three to respond with 'That's not true!' and stand up in unison."
―What did Fujigaya-kun think about Busaiku?
"That it was something new. Of course I also understand that there are fans who think '4 and 3.' But looking at it over a long span, it's one important method in order to continue forever as 7. There are parts we're groping for even now. In particular, at first at times like variety, it was rather uneasy. But, without a doubt, the thing like a sense of responsibility isn't taken on by just the four, along with Kitayama and Tama the three of us also carry it."
―Sense of responsibility?
"Nakai-san told us this. 'The four of them are working hard. The three of you must also do it well.' For example, if the four said, 'We're not popular. Only the three of you are!' and we responded with 'No, no, we're not popular either,' we aren't established. Honestly, the three of us aren't very cool. That's what I really think. But since the four of them chose Busaiku as a path to bring Kisumai to life, we definitely must become cool. It's plain to see, but for that purpose the three of us have to hit with the works we appear in and have to get the numbers. I think the mission that the three of us must do is to leave behind something overwhelming. This isn't looking down from above at all; for the other four's benefit, for Kisumai's benefit, we have to demonstrate an overwhelming sense of existence."
―I thought this in the previous interview as well, but your insight to notice changes in the members is amazing.
"I just happen to catch sight of it, or rather it's a habit, I think. But it's a bad habit that I pay too much attention to what's going on and end up overthinking."
―What's an example of that?
"Recently, the seven us did a radio show together. The topic became, 'How did you spend New Year's?" I went to Las Vegas with a friend from home and Mari (Marius Yo). I knew to an extent how the members had spent it, like Miyata went to Akihabara. And I guess at first someone said, 'I stayed home the entire time.' At that moment I thought the conversation would go like, 'Ah, with this flow it'll be like everyone was at home, and only Miyata went out. But it was to Akiba, which isn't typical of an entertainer.' Then, in the early stage of the talk, Miyata casually said, 'I was home for almost the whole time, the only place I went was Akihabara.' He didn't say it like a punch line. I ended up like, 'Huh!? Where's this landing?' In other interviews I had already said, 'I went to Las Vegas.' But with this flow, if I said, 'I went to Las Vegas,' it would become like, 'Isn't that fancy,' and I thought it would be tough for the members speaking after me, so I ended up saying, 'I was at home too.'"
―That's not good (lol).
"Yeah. At that moment a feeling of disquiet developed. Nika became like, 'Oh no, how do we add a punch line,' and even though he didn't actually go he said, 'I went to Australia!' In order to continue the conversation, Kitayama asked, 'Where did you go in Australia?' and Nika answered, 'The Amazon!,' so in a hurry Kento made fun of him with, 'The Amazon is in Africa!' Nika didn't go to Australia in the first place, and the Amazon is in South America, so the recording ended in somewhat of a strange manner. I soon asked Nika, 'What kind of flow was the correct answer for that, with a variety viewpoint?' And then he laughed and said, 'I don't know either.'"
"The following week, a postcard from a listener saying, 'Fujigaya-san went to Las Vegas...' came, and I was really sorry. I don't mean to lie at all, above all else I end up thinking about what will benefit the group and what will spruce up the members. And the more I think about that the further away I go from my intentions. Even now I'm not very good at variety."
―That personality of yours where you read too much into things, do you like it? Dislike it?
"There are parts I like and parts I dislike. But I think that's why I like Mari. Asking for the impossible, so to say. That sense of innocence and spontaneity, I'm drawn to it because it's the complete of opposite of myself who reads too much into things."
"Can't you generally predict what kind of responses you'll get in a conversation. For example, if you go out to eat and are asked, 'Was it not to your taste?,' won't most people respond with, 'That's not it.' Without a doubt that's what I would say. But, when I'm told something completely different, it like tugs on my heart (lol). Even though I asked, 'Was it not to your taste?,' despite that we actually ate meat for example, getting a response like, 'I wonder what kind of fish that was.' I really like people who give unexpected answers other than the usual this or that. Mari is that kind of type."
―That's why you get along.
"Wataru is also that type. When it was decided that I would go to Russia for a TV program, right before that (Kawai) Fumito had gone to Australia with A.B.C-Z so I received advice. And he gave me helpful advice like, 'You should bring medicine from Japan.' Then, when I talked about that with Wataru, he said with a serious look, 'What time should I go to the airport?" It was like, 'Did you listen to what I said? I didn't ask you to go.' Unexpected answers come back so it's interesting."
―When I greeted Yokoo-san earlier, he said, "Please tell the friends I promised to hang out with to stop meeting up ahead of time and hanging out."
"Wataru's 'stop' is the pattern of, 'I got some joke material, thanks' (lol)."
―Hahahahaha. All of the fans know this, but you really like Yokoo-san, don't you?
"I wonder. We share many acquaintances and go to the same stores, so lots of information comes in and I just end up talking about him more. But seeing Wataru like that, he's quite an adult. Or rather he's always seen pulling the group. Even though he was just at the front, all of a sudden he'll be at the back and say calmly, 'The current theme should be this, right,' pulling back everyone who appeared like they were losing sight of the destination."
―In the beginning you said you are "frantic to survive;" I wonder, does that mean you feel something like a sense of crisis?
"I always feel it. I thought that if we debuted it would be a little more relaxing, but it's not at all (lol). Although I had an image like we'd get lots of work and become popular. I just have lots of anxiety about having to think about so many different things and having to learn so many new things."
―Is that right?
"'Cause, in my case I had never ridden a horse before Nobunaga Concerto. In the middle of filming I felt just how bad it was to not be able to ride a horse in a period drama. Because it limits the numbers of cuts and scenarios you can have. I soon had (Oguri) Shun-kun tell me a place where I could practice and began going."
―So that's what happened.
"It's the same for action. I've definitely had chances to learn it in preparation. But I haven't done it. If there was something like a passing line for idols, it's like I mistook that as an actual passing line. In my acting up until now, I think there have certainly been times when I acted different from the director's real image, but because they thought I couldn't do more than that they said it was okay. I think that's frightening. Because if that's the case, there won't be a next time. Therefore I want to reduce the number of things I can't do at least a little, and I'm currently learning action and horseback riding."
―But what if your next work doesn't need action or horseback riding?
"That possibility is high. If so, I guess it's good if I make it into a joke like, 'Oh no, I chose the wrong things to learn!' I don't know the future, but it's much better than doing nothing. 'Cause originally we got off to an overwhelmingly late start."
―I don't think that's true.
"It is, it is. If in the entertainment world there's something like an average age to experience different things, we're overwhelmingly late. Even when I began to learn horseback riding, when I said to Shun-kun that 'It's late for me to learn, isn't it,' he told me, 'I began in my early twenties as well.' When I said, 'I'm 27,' he was surprised like, 'Huh!? Really?' Our debut was late so people view us as being younger. I think that if our start had been five years earlier there would probably be things that had gone better. That's why I always feel rushed."
―Does it feel like you're frantically recovering from your lateness now?
"Hmm. There may also be the fact that our late start makes a nice story as we spent a long time at the bottom. But, in this world if you take one step, that kind of thing doesn't matter. Because it's a can or cannot world. Of course it's not that there was no meaning in the time spent and sweat released until that point. But we can't ignore the fact that we were late."
―Debuting is also difficult. But, after you debut it's even more difficult.
"It's super difficult (lol). But it's interesting. Like, there are this many things you can't do, things you can't do at all. Things you're so bad at that you wanna laugh."
―You enjoy things you can't do as well?
"I suppose. I enjoy them. Or rather everything is fresh. And, this is obvious, but in order to attend lessons you have to pay money from your own wallet. When I took lessons as a child, I handed the monthly tuition envelope that my parents prepared to the teacher without clearly knowing how much was in it. Obviously you pay a fee in order to learn something. I once again felt various things like the real importance of that monthly tuition envelope and how much I owe to my parents. Although I'm realizing it too late."
―How do you view other groups now? Are they rivals as expected?
"Compared to before debut, I've come to think that we have to not overlap. Doesn't each group possess it, a color. However, rather than not losing to other groups, maybe the stronger emotion is the feeling that we have to work hard as a repayment to our senpai."
"I think that I talked about this last time as well, but to me Arashi is still a special presence. In my Jr. era right when I felt, 'I'm not treated as important. I wonder if I should walk down a different path,' I was allowed to appear in Arashi's concert. When the concert finished, all of the Arashi fans said, 'Thank you!' to the Jrs. To me that was such a surprise. On that stage I felt that even I was important. I wanted someone to be happy because of me too. I thought I wanted to be on the side sending happiness."
―Arashi became the turning point for you, and the one who hugged Fujigaya-kun when you were crying at the end of that concert was Sakurai-kun, right.
"Yes. Two years ago, I got the chance to go to dinner with Sho-kun for the first time. The concert I backed for Arashi at was in 2003, and I thought that someday I wanted to tell him my feelings of thankfulness, so after over ten years I was able to for the first time. I couldn't hide my nervousness and excitement, as expected. I talked about ten years worth of feelings all at once. Like, at that time I thought this. At this time, I now think this. Sho-kun listened to me while nodding in recognition. Finally, he told me, 'Get in touch with me once in a while. Let's go to dinner carefree.' I understand that he's busy, but just recently I contacted him. Like, 'Would you like to go again?' In addition, I receive support from lots of other senpai. I talk on the phone with Inohara (Yoshihiko)-san and from my relationship with Shun-kun I see (Ikuta) Toma-kun and Mastumoto Jun-kun."
―Then, what kind of existence is SMAP to Fujigaya-kun?
"Super stars. It's just sometimes, but I get into contact with Kimura-san and get to have dinner together with him a few times a year. What makes me happy is that I've gotten to see not just his finished works, but I also got to work with him in a drama and see him work up-close. It was such a fortune. He always says, 'At any rate, do it with full power.' Actually, Kimura-san does everything from rehearsal to the real take with the same full power. With that attitude he also pulls along the location staff like, 'Let's make an even better work.' Of course, that may be something that no one other than Kimura-san can do. But if that's the case, then there must also be something that no one other than I can do. I think that I have to keep doing work to find the thing that only I can do."
―Last year, you went with Nakai-san to the disaster stricken area, right?
"Yes. On a TV program I said, 'I'll definitely go the disaster stricken area.' And then after that was on air, I was called by Nakai-san. Like, 'What did you mean when you said that?' I told him that I had relatives affected by the disaster and that I thought I definitely wanted to bring the members and go in my private time. And then with, 'You have that amount of passion, huh. I'm also thinking of going. So will you go with me?' I received an invitation."
―Weren't you nervous?
"At that point I hadn't even had dinner with him man to man. I was told, 'Bring whomever you want with you,' so I worried that if they were Johnny's they'd be too careful as kohai and I brought the three men in my family and a friend from university. Over one night and two days, we listened to the talk of the local people and had meals. I went into the outdoor bath with Nakai-san, and slept in the same room. And at night I received lots of advice as well. At the end, he told me, 'Let's go next year too.'"
―From the things you talked about, is there something that you remember?
"He said, 'Someday, overcome SMAP and become number one in Johnny's. Become an existence that makes us think we're in danger. If we heard people say, "Those guys have overcome SMAP," it'd be so interesting.'"
―You were told that kind of thing.
"I felt a lot of love. I responded with, 'Yes,' but when I think about the present situation I understand just what a difficult hurdle that is. Even so, there's nothing at all that we can give back directly to SMAP-san. I don't even know if that will become a repayment. Even so, if someday a day came when we were told, 'We lost here to you guys,' I want to say, 'It was thanks to Nakai-san's words on that day.' So that, 'Yes, we'll overcome you,' wasn't just a polite response as a kohai."
―Did you share Nakai-san's words with the members?
"I didn't say it. Calling the other six and saying, 'I was told this kind of thing. Let's work harder!,' the punch line is they'd say, 'Huh!? We know that.' Furthermore, this is something that started after the last interview, but we've come to always have a dinner party with all the members gathered at either the end or beginning of the year, and although we're usually noisily talking, at that time only we talk amongst ourselves seriously about things like the direction of the group. Last year we actually gathered on Christmas Eve, and while saying complaints like, 'Why are the seven of us here on this kind of night!' we talked about many things. In the end it crossed over to the next day; we spent Eve and Christmas as the seven of us (lol)."
―When the opinion of the members is divided in a discussion, what do you do?
"When we can't decide though discussion, we generally make a decision through majority vote."
―You're lucky since there's an odd number of members and you can definitely decide.
"But, occasionally in the past when the opinion was divided and we took a vote, we'd be split 3 and 3. When we realized someone didn't raise their hand, Miyata would say something like, 'Either is fine~.' And we'd be like, 'In that case, 3, 3, 1 doesn't make sense so decide!' Then uncertainly he'd say, 'Hmmm, after listening to the talk I guess I feel this way~.' There'd be a large booing like, 'The decision is going to be made with that non-committal vote, so think about it harder!' While twitching his nostrils with teary eyes he'd say, 'Don't press me so hard~' (lol)."
―Somehow I can picture that scene.
"But of course Miyata now thinks about things properly. When we were talking this previous time, he was saying, 'I want to do a stage play.' All of the members have their own genres that they want to do, or rather we're pushing our way through believing, maybe just a little somewhere, but that there's something that will mark a new phase in this period."
―Then, what's the genre that Fujigaya-kun wants to do?
"I want to do lots of acting and come to be thought of like, 'Even if I did Fujigaya's role I wouldn't be able to do it like that.' That's my current mood. The thing that I think might be a hint to come to have that kind of statement said about me was something I talked about with Shun-kun. When I said, 'No matter what, the filter of Johnny's ends up affecting me, he replied, 'Wouldn't it be interesting if you did work to remove that layer by layer.' I have a hunch that that may be where the thing I'm searching for is."
―You don't have any self-doubt?
"Now I don't have it anymore. Previously, as expected I would make excuses somewhere. Things like, if I took a break from group activities and focused only on acting I'd be able to improve more. Like, am I not just doing everything halfway. In the end I was just blaming things I couldn't do on something else. Things that I wanted to do and improve were only advancing bit by bit, and I worried if that was enough for the group."
―So you don't think like that now.
"My ideal is to continue struggling with a vision and come across it around age 30, but I want to act in a role that will drastically change the image I've possessed until now. Won't the evaluation definitely come back to the group. However, it's not that I want to polish my skills and get an award or have a different version of me than usual seen. The reason I'm working hard is rather that I want people to think, 'There's this kind of person in Kisumai.' It's because there is the basis called Kisumai. Of course there are things that I want to do myself, but I expect there are also people who like the Fujigaya who sings in Kisumai. Above all else I have the huge feeling that I'm being made cool by the fans. I'm not saying, 'Look at how cool I am!' When I'm screamed at at a concert, there's a switch that comes on. The result is like if I can show the fans even more than what they wanted to see. Between the fans and us, there's something like a cycle that creates synergy. 'Cause, I think this is strange for an idol, but at rehearsals and stuff I'm quite in trouble. I'm pretty downcast (lol)."
―Even now as you're going to welcome your debut fifth anniversary, I thought that you were continuing your frantic days just as before.
"Hmm. Isn't it that we have to continue from here as well. This was quite a while ago, but I had dinner with Mari and drove him home. Just when were almost at his house Mari suddenly said, 'There's something I want to talk about,' and I lightly asked, 'What's that, what happened?' And then he started talking seriously like, 'Actually, it's about work....' It was like, wait we're about to arrive. Bring this talk up a little earlier. I stopped the car and listened to what he had to say."
―What advice did you give him?
"'Think about a long span like five years, ten years; what do you want to become like. Isn't it important to take action thinking about what you can do now and what you have to do for that purpose.' But as I said that and remembered my own teenage years, I also had lots of worries at that time and felt that the things in front of my eyes were the entire world. Moreover, even now I'm just worrying. In the end, it's like maybe people worry forever. Yeah. That's what I thought."
―That may be right. Then on the opposite end, what's a moment that makes you think you're happy now?
"Hmmm, I don't know what moment it is (lol). But, I wonder what it is, I guess I think that it's simply fun when I'm noisily talking with the members. I like watching over the members when we're doing a concert. I think, 'They're really shining.' When I see the six of them, it's like, 'Ah, Kisumai looks really fun.' That moment is without a doubt happy. Even though I'm performing, there are quite a lot of times where I watch with like a bird's eye view. Even though I also need to participate in the MC, I enjoy the members' talk like a spectator. I like listening while thinking about things like, 'Ah, they went with that kind of flow' and 'He was aiming for screams just now.' But, as I'm doing that, this may be a well-known happening for Kisumai fans, but Tama will come talk to me without a microphone (lol)."
―Ah, I understand that.
"Although looking at it as a member, the talk is probably, 'You guys participate in the MC too!' However, the things Tama says are all super pointless, like, 'It's hot today' and 'Is my hair okay?,' and it's like, 'Do you really need to say that now?' That kind of thing hasn't changed at all from the old days."
―But, comparing Tamamori-kun to the time of Ikemen Desu Ne, aren't there many parts of him that have changed?
"Hmm. Tama might be the one who's changed the most. Starring roles and the lead in plays, the number of places where he's assumed responsibility have increased, and naturally he's built up a lot of experience and brought it to the group. But, the time of Ikemen Desu Ne, that time I spent with Tama right before and after our debut, to me it's irreplaceable. It was a period tough on both the mind and body, and I shared that sense with Tama. I don't know how Tama thinks, but I was supported by Tama and, when I would return to group, the members being there for me."
―I didn't ask this yet. Has Kitayama-kun's existence changed from past to present?
"It seems that the fans want me to say, 'In the beginning the two of us pulled the group forward' (lol). But, honestly, I was so busy that although I pretended to be calm, I didn't have any composure at all. That's why I don't have any sense that we pulled the group along. Certainly, we were told, 'The two of you do the talking. Songs are also the two of you,' and there was also a time when we did everything together. Now, by himself his appearances on variety shows and TV program MCs have increased. Our individual activities have increased separately, but, I wonder what it is, it's like the distance between the two of us hasn't changed. There are also times when the two of us have meetings, but it happens that it's passed around the making. Although at that moment we keep a distance. I say this a lot, but both Kitayama and I are very calculating (lol). I think that our relationship isn't something we show on the outside much, and that there isn't a bond that can be seen on the surface."
―However, at last year's Tokyo Dome concert, it was a nice scene when you gave Kitayama-kun a birthday present.
"Although actually I asked the DVD making cameras to not add it. I didn't want it to be thought that I did it for that reason."
―The following day, Kitayama-kun came wearing the jeans you gave him, right?
"Yes. But, it's not a drama or a movie, so there was nothing like, 'Ohh, those!' 'Yeah, I wore them here!' (lol). For the two of us for a second it became like, 'Oh,' with a simple, 'Thanks,' 'Ah, happy birthday.'"
―Then, this is the last question, in the previous interview you said, "If in a few decades the time came to look back on the path the seven of us have walked, I want the seven of us to make one horizontal line and look back smiling," but are those feelings unchanged even now?
"They're unchanged. My sense of Kis-My-Ft2 is that it's like a house. When Tama goes out like, 'I'm going to go do a drama,' the members send him off with a feeling like, 'Okay, see you at next week's variety show then!' On a different day the four members of Busaiku will go off and do variety, and we'll say, 'Good luck!' Me too, when I leave the house with, 'I'm doing this kind of work next so I'll go for three months,' I'll be told things like, 'Take care!;' that kind of sense. That kind of relationship with the members hasn't ever changed, and definitely won't change from here on out either. There are times when we all go out together, and times when we go out individually as well. There are also times with three people, and times with four. Even though each place we go out to is different, it's like the place all seven of us return to is here. I wonder how the others think of it? At the very least that's how I feel."