―Those jeans you're wearing today...
"Oh! Yeah, these. The ones I got from Fujigaya on my birthday last year. Look. They're such stylish jeans that they have folded cuffs. On the day I got them I tried unfolding one and saw they're sewed in place. By myself I realized, 'Ah, this is how it is, Fujigaya!' (lol)"
―Well then, I'm going to ask you various things, but what's your personal rating of Kis-My-Ft2 CONCERT TOUR 2016 I SCREAM? From the composition to production, you handled almost everything, didn't you.
"Since last year I've been quite harsh, but this year I'd say 70 points. As expected it's super difficult to turn the things in your head into reality."
―What are the 30 points that are lacking?
"I think there won't ever be a time I give us 100 points throughout my whole life. 'Cause, if that's the case then there's nothing to do next (lol). It's just, there could be a bit more, what is it I wonder. I think there are probably things the others could do, and myself as well. I guess that's minus 10 points. Just, no matter what score we give ourselves or what the response from others is, there's no mistaking that we challenged new things."
―"Kisumai Jet," the device that released two tons of water and didn't exist in Japan, was also Kitayama-kun's idea, right?
"That was something that was created with a sprinkler as the base; it existed abroad but wasn't in Japan. When I consulted a gardener I was told at first that 'it's impossible to make.'"
―But, you couldn't give up?
"Yeah. 'Cause it did already exist somewhere. If this were just an impractical theory I would've said, 'I see.' That's why I asked, 'I really want to make it no matter what, so could you please try considering it one more time?' And then the gardener became fired up like, 'Let's do this!' I was really happy. We're really blessed with the staff that we have."
―When challenging something for the first time, isn't the possibility of failure scary?
"Of course we make things trying not to fail, but, this is strange, isn't failure alright as well!? I hate not challenging anything new and staying still even more. Rather than the possibility of failure, I'm more uneasy at the prospect of not challenging anything. Of the me not being on the offensive. Of course, deciding on the Kisumai Jet, there were various reactions like, 'Aren't the actual Kisumai not standing out then?' I have no idea what the correct answer is. But, there's no mistaking that challenging it at the venue of a dome is connected to confidence."
"Because we've come from watching the backs of our senpai. By doing something that no one else has ever done, we want the people who come to see us to be pleased. We want them to come to the venue excited with the thought of, 'I wonder what Kisumai's going to do this year!?' Furthermore, there's also the feeling of wanting to make something that our kohai and senpai will definitely be jealous of when they see it. Rather, we're being tested. I also go to concerts thinking, 'What kind of things are they going to do?' I'm going to see Hey! Say! JUMP's concert next and I'm really looking forward to it."
―Looking back to after your debut, the formation of Busaiku was big, right?
"Yeah. I thought that it was great for raising up the group."
―However, in your previous 10,000 character interview, you said that you put everything on Kisumai because you wanted to protect Senga-kun and Nikaido-kun, right?
―In that case, weren't you a bit sad or something that Busaiku was formed and became popular by borrowing Nakai-san's power?
"No. Not at all. I think that since we are lucky to have someone to rely on we should take full advantage (lol). Because above all else, the making of Busaiku is proof that we're loved. It's a unit that was made because the four of them are loved by many people, beginning with Nakai-san. I only have happiness that the people important to me are loved."
―I see. But the director of a certain clinic guessed that Kitayama-kun is a member of Busaiku, right...
"If I met that guy I'd definitely hit him! Like, 'How dare you say that' (lol). But honestly, I don't think at all that I have to be cool. 'Cause, even if a guy trying to be cool was acting as MC, wouldn't you not pay attention to what he's saying!? That's why even though I'm one of the front three, I try to do things not expected of a cool character. I try to make a position for myself somewhere between the leading character and the comedian."
―Do you receive advice from Nakai-san?
"I often receive invitations to go out to eat with him, and he talks about various things. But they're all words that I'd like to keep within myself; I don't really want to share the contents."
―Tell me just one thing.
"Hmm, I guess, 'Environment is more important than emotion.' He said that rather than becoming emotional and egoistic wanting to do this and that, you should first create the environment where you can do the things you want. It's impossible to completely throw away all your emotion, but as much as I can I try to stay in a calm state."
―So you're invited out by Nakai-san.
"Although to this day I'm unable to talk smoothly. It's like all I do is be there. I can't do anything besides smile. But Nakai-san will casually tell me various things. Like, 'Don't lose.' And, 'SMAP reached their position because they were fighting continually.' He often says, 'Become number one. Hurry up and surpass SMAP.'"
―I wonder if you can surpass them one day?
"Of course it's best to have a big goal. But, honestly, when told 'surpass us!' by a person who was the host of Kohaku at age 25, I think it's unbelievable (lol)."
―That's certainly true (lol).
"However, I often think about ways of surpassing them and just what it would be to surpass SMAP. It's super difficult. 'Cause they're loved by such a wide-range of generations, and even by guys. That's why they have an existence of like belonging to the people. Like, what would surpassing that kind of group be like."
―Kisumai has a bond with SMAP, right. Kitayama-kun even performed with Katori-san in a drama. Do you remember the "Barter Meeting" skit you did with Katori-san in 2013 on YOU Konto Shichaina yo?
"That was really enjoyable. 'Cause do matter how you looked at it we were barters (lol). But nobody was able to actually say it in words. Although it was a skit, I could say, 'I'm a barter!'"
―Being called various things, weren't there frustrating ones as well?
"Certainly I was called various things. But it's not frustrating at all. I can say with pride, 'I'm a barter.' Being able to work together with SMAP-san has really become our source of energy."
―What other senpai have helped you?
"Definitely Takizawa-kun. He's been my teacher, and is a monster. People who don't realize how amazing he is are strange."
―What part of him is a monster?
"Something like the size of his back or the depth of his masculine charm. It's not in the range of a regular human. Even though he's the senpai, he'll properly face you as a single person. For example, if there's a Junior whose motivation is lagging, I think it would take just one time of Takizawa-kun calling him out and yelling. But he doesn't do that. He'll start with, 'Do you know why I've called you?' and talk serious like, 'There's a reason for you to appear in this stage play.' There isn't anyone who has that kind of deep love."
―Takizawa-kun used the term "Johnnyism," but isn't Kitayama-kun also one of those heirs?
"I have strong feelings of wanting to take over. But it's like Takizawa-kun and (Domoto) Koichi-kun were personally transmitted. If someone like me entered that line-up I'd feel out of place (lol). I love and respect Johnny-san. I've also been at locations that Takizawa-kun and Koichi-kun built together with the president. But since at that time I was still in the corner of the Juniors, it feels like I was observing the inheritance of Johnnyism from the distance."
―What other senpai do you have exchange with?
"Recently when I went to see a concert I exchanged contact information with (Matsumoto) Jun-kun. It was like, 'How've you been? Tell me your contact info.' I thought he was as kind as ever."
―He's been kind since the past.
"When I was back dancing for Arashi, I was a target to be yelled at. Matsumoto-kun, of course with good meaning, took strict control of the Juniors backing. He'd stay and watch our dancing. I thought things like, 'Why is he making us do the same move over and over' (lol). Halfway through I realized, 'This is kindness.' I think that even more now. In the midst of a tour there are so many things that you have to do. Therefore watching the Juniors takes a lot of energy. But despite that he took the time to instruct us."
―It's also well-known you're friendly with Yabu-kun, Okura-kun, and Kawai-kun.
"As for Yabu, during our Junior era when he was still extremely small, Tottsu (Totsuka Shota), Yabu, and I all lived in the same direction. It's been since then. Even though that kid used to call me 'Kitayama-kun,' he grew taller and switched to 'Kitayama!' (lol). But even for the way he refers to me, it doesn't matter even though he's five years younger. It feels just like hanging out with regular guy friends. Yabu understands me well, and I suppose I understand Yabu too. To this day we still go out to eat a lot, and we talk about our worries as well."
―How about Okura-kun?
"I've known him for a long time too. I have the image that Okura is on a stage about two levels above me. Both as part of a group and as an individual. Although we're the same age, he's the youngest member of his group. Listening to his stories is fun."
"No comment. 'Cause next month is his turn, right!? I don't want to say good things about him and make him get carried away (lol)."
―Hahaha. Kitayama-kun, you're also good at taking care of your kohai, right?
"I guess I go out to eat with Juniors quite often. Like SixTONES and Snow Man. Also, Love-tune's Yasui. He contacts me."
―From the viewpoint of your kohai, doesn't it take courage to contact Kitayama-kun?
"They all come at me quite at ease actually (lol)."
―Are you asked for advice on their troubles?
"I often get, 'How can I debut!' But like, I don't know. I'm troubled on how to answer. Therefore I suppose I talk a little more clearly about what I mentioned before, things about environment that I learned from Nakai-san. Before our debut, in 2010 Yokohama Arena was decided and we had a press conference. I thought that for the first time I would let out all the feelings I'd been amassing and say, 'I want to debut!', but Miyata said it before I could (lol)."
"But after the conference ended and we exited the stage, various staff members said to all of us, 'Let's do our best.' I really felt that the staff were thinking they wanted to do something for us. I don't know what needs to be done to be able to debut. Just, having of course fans, but staff as well who think, 'We want to let these guys debut!' I guess I talk about how maybe the only thing to do is create that kind of environment."
―I'm going to ask you about your group as well; are you never going to choose a leader?
―Did you know fans are in an uproar after Fujigaya-kun said that if you were going to decide a leader, "Wouldn't Miyata be good," and in last month's issue Yokoo-kun gave Miyata-kun's name as well.
―Although you say you won't choose, Kitayama-kun, don't you think of yourself as the leader?
"Hmmm, honestly, I don't think anything. For us, the conversation of whether to choose a leader or not ended a very long time ago. That's why I don't think anything of it except as talking about the past."
―In his interview in the September issue, Tamamori-kun actually said, "I'm Kisumai's ace," so I thought perhaps Kitayama-kun would also say, "I'm the leader."
"Tamamori is Kis-My-Ft2's ace. Without a doubt. But I don't need the title of leader. Because I'm someone who thinks we don't need to choose a leader in the first place. 'Cause in our case if we chose a leader, it would be like the cargo of a ship unbalancing."
―What do you mean?
"For example, if Miyata became the leader, it would mean that our group's leader is an anime otaku. That wouldn't just be the cargo unbalancing, it'd be soaking wet (lol). Miyata shines because of the position he's in now. If he had the title of leader, there would be more situations where he would have to act properly. That wouldn't benefit either the group or Miyata. All of the members understand this."
"Tamamori is also best with his free-spirit feeling. If he were leader, his merits would be cut in half. For Fujigaya, it's become his character that he doesn't say much, so if he were leader that would be shaken. It couldn't be either Nikaido or Senga who are both teased. So, Yokoo-san!? Nope."
―Wouldn't Kitayama-kun be good?
"I'm the oldest, but I'm short and I have a baby face. I have these characteristics that prevent my age from showing, but if I were leader I'd be found out like, 'Oh, he's the oldest' (lol). Of course, I act like a pipe between the staff and group. Because I like doing that kind of thing. Thinking about things like that, a very long time ago we all talked about not needing a leader if everyone performed their own role well."
―So there's no need for the fans to make a fuss about the leader.
"No, no, dispute it more (lol). I'm just happy that it makes us into a topic for discussion. Do it more, do it more."
―Hahaha. Kitayama-kun, there are times you say harsh things to your fans, aren't there?
"If told something honestly, there's nothing to say but 'thanks.' I can't refute that, can I. But, I guess it's that. Like, just a little bit, I have to spit poison. I don't want to be thought of as someone who will always say sweet words. Wouldn't that be annoying (lol). Isn't the stance 'this person definitely won't say kind words' better!?"
―Next I'm going to ask about the members' changes these five years. Let's start with Miyata-kun.
"He doesn't change. Especially his stinginess. Recently, when about four of us were having dinner at a fairly nice restaurant, he said, 'I'm gonna head home early. Thanks for the meal!' and put down a 1000 yen bill and ran home (lol)."
―Miyata-kun said, "I still haven't got back the money I lent him when we were paying for steak."
"Well then, shall I calculate in number of steaks just how much I have paid for Miyata up until now? It's quite a lot."
"But Miyata worked hard on 'Re:'. We were able to make that song because of Miyata. The whole time I was thinking about how I would do it differently if it were me, but when I heard the finished song, the combination of all the letters each of the members wrote and such, it was all done in a way that only he could do. It came to have a much more peaceful feeling than what I had been imagining."
―Next, how about Nikaido-kun? You often have review meetings together, right?
"We generally have review meetings together. During tour, after a concert has ended, we watch that day's video in a hotel room. Time spent talking about this and that with him is quite good. There are things that only Nika notices. I think that I'm really supported."
―Nikaido-kun was a problem child who had a poor work attitude and was warned by Kitayama-kun, right. It's kind of strange that now you support each other.
"I have a story about that where I was troubled. Honestly, I'll admit this but, in the past, I didn't just warn him verbally; there were times that I smacked him. Then, just recently, there happened to be a chance where me, Nikaido's parents, and my mom were eating dinner together. Nikaido's father said to me with a serious face, 'Kitayama-kun, thank you for smacking my son for me at that time!' Since my mother was there it was extremely awkward. Like, what kind of face am I supposed to make while eating now. Later I yelled at Nika, 'Don't tell your parents you were smacked!' (lol)."
―Now you call Nikaido-kun "Nikai-san," right?
"Since his admiration for Nakai-san is really strong. Nakai-san's influence has been big for me as well. Recently we talked about 'Where is Nikaido Takashi's essence?' Both of us admire him. But it was like, it isn't good to be a copy. I wonder where our original points are. Like, 'Where are Nika's? Where are mine?' It's super difficult because there's no answer, but it was like, let's find them."
―You're not going to smack him anymore?
"I'm not. 'Cause he tattles to his parents (lol). Furthermore, yeah. He's working hard. Although he worries. But people who don't worry are no good. Of course, each of the members has continued fighting while worrying over these five years. Maybe we appear to be cool or just laughing foolishly, but I can assure you that the seven of us haven't once destroyed our fighting pose."
―Then, how about Senga-kun?
"Senga might be the one most suited to being an entertainer. He's very precise about how he wants to be seen and how he is seen. By precise, I mean he has a clear vision inside himself. He might be worrying, but that's because he still has parts where his ideal and reality don't match. But that means he has high ambitions."
―When Busaiku was first formed it seems that he worried a lot.
"It showed on his face that he didn't like it. But I think that's why Busaiku is interesting. It's the same with Yokoo. It was interesting because his facial expression and attitude revealed that he thought, 'Why do I have to be told that I'm poor at singing.' Nikaido was probably the only to completely accept the variety aspect from the beginning. Maybe it's not right to say that it's interesting that they didn't like it, but I think they actually hated it. However, even when they were teased on variety shows like, 'You're busaiku,' they kept laughing it off. Even though they hated it at heart. After overcoming that conflict and shaking it off, Busaiku's performances were really cool. Unbelievably cool. Busaiku are amazing having that story of conflict. I was proud to be a member of the same group as them."
―In last month's interview, Yokoo-kun said "I didn't think anything" concerning the formation of Busaiku.
"That's a lie (lol). Those who continually watched him understand. He didn't like it. But, the one who expanded the potential of the group was definitely Yokoo-san. Honestly, after our debut I really worried about Yokoo-san the most. Because he isn't great at singing, his dancing is a little off, and he fumbles words when speaking. Isn't that the triple three. He understands that too. The two of us have gone drinking and talked about it. However, for variety shows, things that one can't do are interesting, and that itself became his individuality. The strength of Yokoo-san's projects appeared suddenly. I felt that my way of thinking had been rigid and I had just been measuring him based on my own scale. Oh, but of course I want him to properly sing and dance as well. Because his base is an idol (lol)."
―How about Tamamori-kun?
"Tamamori has established his own 'Tamamori brand.' I wonder what it is. I think he has quite a lot of airheaded moments. During the like MC of a show he'll just regularly say, 'I don't like that.' And he's forgiven for it. For some reason the fans are easy on Tamamori as well. Then, it's the set for one of the members to poke fun at the audience and say, 'You're being too easy on him!' What is it? Maybe it's the courage to say that he doesn't like the things he doesn't like. Regularly people don't say that. Of course, I think that he has a clear line of where it's okay to say he doesn't like something and where it isn't."
―But, doesn't it annoy you when Tamamori-kun or Fujigaya-kun doesn't listen to the conversation during a concert MC?
"I always get annoyed (lol). Like, you guys want to relaxingly drink water and have a chat. This isn't the place for it! However, the two of them make a picture just by standing. Just by building it up and then switching the camera to the two of them the audience goes 'Kyaa!!' Because the two of them are capable of that."
―Then, how about Fujigaya-kun?
"Hmmm. Fujigaya is probably already thinking of the next thing. The two of us did songs together, right. Next time it probably won't be with me; he's probably thinking of things like next time he'll do it with Tamamori or someone else. I think he's probably looking ahead. I think that even regarding the acting which he wants to do the most, he's thinking that he needs to rise up even higher."
―Then, Kitayama-kun, what is the thing that you want to do the most?
"Personally, it's MC. But that's something that takes time. Definitely. Perhaps I'm succeeding at occasionally doing the MC on a special program. But that's not what I want to do. I think that I have to take time and establish a position where the people watching can feel at ease with me."
―But, for this past tour you performed your solo after Busaiku, and you call yourself a character somewhere between cool and funny, aren't you shouldering too much?
"Because I put myself last."
―Since you're both a player and have the role of brining everyone together, there are parts that can't be helped; doesn't that make you lonely?
"....Lonely. Is it loneliness? But I think that can't be helped. If you're going to make something, isn't it something that you have to shoulder? Although it both is and isn't loneliness. 'Cause, of course there are parts that I have to take on the burden of alone. But that's because it's in order to make something good as Kisumai. I have friends who are waiting. That's why it isn't loneliness."
―Somehow it looks as if you're holding back too much.
"....Holding back. Hmm, it's not holding back. Speaking of holding back, that brings me to Nakai-san's words again. In order to make the things you want to do into reality, you must prepare the environment. I don't think that period is one of holding back. It's like thinking about the seven of us as one company and what we should do in order to create the largest profit. It's something worth doing, and for that purpose I can't say things like 'I don't like that' and 'Actually I want to do this instead.'"
―Then, what will happen with Kisumai when the environment is prepared?
"What I'm aiming for now is a concert at the New National Stadium [Shin-Kokuritsu Kyougi-jou] in 2021. When asked, 'In the year after the Olympics, who will play at Kokuritsu?' I want to raise my hand. Surely only one group will be able to play there. At that time it will be our tenth anniversary. I think it would be great if we could play Kokuritsu at that timing. Although of course that doesn't mean it's our goal. Now at our fifth anniversary, what we're doing is important, as is where we should put our next step. With that one step our sixth year on may change. I think that now is the time we need to come together as a group."
―You're passionate as usual.
"Really? But, what is it. Isn't it a good thing. I don't really like people who are cold. I end up thinking, 'Why are they that cold?'"
―Then, what is Kis-My-Ft2 to Kitayama-kun?
"I wonder what it is. I guess it's like the core. It's the thing in between what I'm doing and what I think I want to do next. I think that's definitely true for all seven of us, but if we have this core we can challenge anything. Kis-My-Ft2 is the base for everything."
―That core doesn't ever break?
"I think breaking it would be super easy. But I don't want to get out by breaking it. 'Cause, since we have Kis-My-Ft2 as our core we can make exciting things and have thrilling experiences that not just anyone can."
"But, I think that without a doubt we need to hold our roots, or rather our base, as important. Like, I think it's wrong to suddenly do songs with a different nuance, such as doing only cool songs, or to act as if the past didn't happen. I want to hold dear the people who have watched us for a long time and the people who have come this far with us, and without destroying the base of things we've been doing since our Junior days, I want to show new things approached from a slightly different angle."
"That's why I think of all of the members as fighting companions. Because we've come here tasting both the bitter and the sweet together. Amongst them, Fujigaya is rather particularly special. He's the one who lets me recall my Junior era the most. Currently, isn't there a 'combi love boom' of like what two members get along well in a group. I think that's a really great way of having fun. The two of us don't stick together so it's not easy to understand, but we have a long history of fighting together, or rather a kind of story that the other combinations don't have. We've been together for a long time, but he's never complained about me. I've never said anything about Fujigaya either. But if you're looking you'll understand. That we've been fighting a long time. I wonder how I should put it. He's probably fighting with himself. Like, that he needs to rise up higher for the sake of the group. That's why I think that Fujigaya has his own loneliness as well. However, as I said before, we are both lonely and not lonely. Yeah. Because the members are here, and I am here."
―I'll ask this again, but I wonder if the day you can surpass SMAP will come?
"I don't know. But we'll keep challenging things. Presently, the staff in charge of our tours, at our first meeting when I put forward many ideas that I'd like to do all at once, even the reckless things, they'll first move positively for us like, 'Let's try it.' Even if in the end we're unable to do it. These staff members are the kohai of the people who create the stage for SMAP. So their feelings are the same as ours. The feelings of, 'Let's surpass those senpai' are present in both us and the staff. Like our fighting companions are continuing to increase. That's why I now believe that the answer of if we will surpass SMAP is definitely up ahead on this road we're continuing on. Like, scenery that we haven't seen the likes of is waiting."
―In 2005, when Kis-My-Ft2 was formed, you said you thought that the leftovers had been assembled. In your fifth year since debut, don't you think it's about time that you give some praise to yourself and your group?
"Nah, not yet."
―Did you think that you would make it this far?
"It feels like, 'Just how far is "this far"?' The place I'm standing now, I didn't set this as my goal. I hate losing, so I want to win overwhelmingly. The place that I want to land is still far ahead."