in other words...

Translations by Hwen and Amy

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[Arashi] Mine - 11/2002
Okay, this is a very old magazine article dating 15 years back (!), but I really love the entirety of it and couldn't resist translating in order to share it with more people.

There's something about old interviews that I love; though we get to see how much they've matured in recent interviews, I find that they're also more careful with their words because they've grown so much bigger and are now reaching a much broader audience than they did before. Maybe it's because of their age, or maybe it's because they were less popular back then, but I feel like they were able to get away with saying things in older interviews that they wouldn't say now (or at least, not so detailed and blunt). I learned new details about them from this interview that I hadn't heard of in my 12+ years as an Arashi fan, and the parts I did know about, I never heard them talk about them to that degree.

And I also wanted to applause the writer of this article, because considering this was back in 2002, when they were still very young and weren't even close to making it big, the writer took them seriously and actually sounded like they believed Arashi was destined to be something huge. Definitely recommending this as a must-read.

Mine - 11/2002

Shortly before the photoshoot was about to start, someone started playing a guitar that was in the studio; someone chatted with the staff; someone started reading a book. It was like a scene straight out of a classroom during lunch break. But when the five of them gathered in front of the camera lenses, their overwhelming presence filled the room.

It's been 3 years since their debut, and their first starring film will be released this fall. What will Arashi aim for next, and where are they headed now?

"Thanks for all the hard work~"

Arashi held a concert at the Saitama Arena. Right after the last show was over, the five of them made an appearance for the news media. The oldest of the group, Ohno Satoshi-kun (21), the coordinator, Sho-kun (20), the mild-mannered Aiba Masaki-kun (19), the delicate Ninomiya Kazunari-kun (19), and the youngest, Matsumoto Jun-kun (18).

The closing celebrations for Arashi began. Surely, they must be exhausted after dashing around and dancing on stage for two and a half hours. Ninomiya-kun subtly leaned against tables, and Ohno-kun's gaze went blank at times; despite it all, they were all smiling as they went from person to person, chatting and answering questions. You cannot hold them in contempt and say it's because they're idols so they have to do it. They're living in a harsh world of professionals.

During the tour, they held numerous members-only meetings that lasted until four or five in the morning.

"'We can't go on like this, what should Arashi do next or go from here?' The five of us started getting carried away and talked all night. I feel like we grew closer as a group during this tour," said Ohno-kun.

Even the easygoing Aiba-kun was unusually frank about it: "Being together as a group brings out our personalities naturally, but it's not enough. I think we need to go even further and bring more emphasis to our personalities."

Sakurai-kun calmly analyzed their current situation as such. "I think this is Arashi's turning point. We've always gotten along before, but we need to become actual partners who aren't afraid to say what's on our minds to one another."

And they are all serious about their ways of thinking. In aiming for the top as idols, they possess a degree of determination and force of will that ordinary people lack. Take Ninomiya-kun for example. He had saved up his own hard-earned money for years with the intention of studying overseas. "I'm really interested in the behind-the-scenes production of movies and stage plays. I want to go to Hollywood and study over there. It's my dream to produce my own movie someday."

And yet they haven't lost the air of normalcy about them that everyone loves so much. During preparations in the studio for the corresponding photoshoot to this interview, they took turns striking up conversations with the staff. They sat quietly in front of the staff with disarming puppy-like gazes; it put everyone at ease when they looked at them, because they seemed more like ordinary boys than typical idols. But these boys whom you can find anywhere are trying their hardest to make their dreams come true, and that earnestness is palpable.

After the shoot, Matsumoto-kun checked each polaroid one by one. He was double-checking his own position in each photo, and it was in order to produce something even better than before. "If we're going to do this, I want to aim higher and be the world's greatest, to dominate the world. It's always better to dream big."

And their dream has only just begun.


Do you know what the cockpit of an airplane looks like? I went to that kind of high school. It was by distance education. I'm pretty sure I know more than the average person about what's inside a cockpit, where things are, how planes fly, that kind of thing.

I joined the agency because I wanted to play basketball. I saw SMAP playing basketball on TV and thought that was cool. Pretty naive, right?

I joined the agency in the second year of middle high school, and I was too busy with work to go to a normal high school. But if I don't go to high school, I might not be admitted to a vocational school even if I wanted to down the road, right? When I looked for places that offered distance education, that was the only one I could find. It was a science and mathematics-based high school, and the reports I had to write were really tough. I had to memorize the mathematical equations and physics formulas like crazy before each test. Nevertheless, my physics and math marks were decent. The one I did poorest in was English, especially with listening comprehension. No matter how many times I listen to it, I was just like, 'What language is that?'. Once work was over, I'd open up my textbooks in the trains and also study at my desk before I went to bed. Above all else I didn't want to be held back a grade, so I forced myself to stay awake before a test by sheer determination, no matter how tired I was from work.

Oh yeah, I have a boating license. It's the most basic one and I got it when I was 17. My dad owns a family-sized cruiser and we rode it together before. I have a brother who is four years younger, and we all get along. The four of us often go out for meals too. Usually people my age don't like to go out with their parents, but we all love each other a lot.

No one joined the agency at the same time that I did, which meant everyone were senpais to me... I didn't know what to do at all, so I always sat in the corner by myself. Gradually, people started talking to me. I got along with the friends I made when I was a Junior, but the other members were also Juniors at the same time that I was. In a sense, Arashi is like family to me too.


My cousin submitted an application to Johnny's without my permission. I had a baseball match to go to when I received a notification about the audition and I wanted to go to the match, but my mom said, "I'll give you 5000 yen, so go!" I was bribed by that 5000 yen and attended the audition. They made us do this dance choreography thing but I had zero interest in it so I just stood near the back and swayed my body a bit without much enthusiasm. Yet I was called back 3 days after the audition, and right away they sat me down for a magazine interview. Two days after that, I appeared on Music Station and I was like, hey wait, that's just not right...

Even becoming part of Arashi, if you were to ask me, was juuuust a bit like a "scam" (laugh). I mean, they never told me I was going to debut. I was shocked when we were holding that news conference, like "Eh? Is this a debut?"

I never had any plans to enter the entertainment business; I wanted to be a baseball player. I'm appearing more on TV now and with that comes things like having make-up put on you, but I don't like it. Even now, I'm the only one who says no when they try to put stuff on my face. I mean seriously, I'm still young and my skin is still plump and smooth (laugh), there's no need to put any make-up on, right?

At first, I was apathetic when it came to work and was pretty half-hearted about it. I was 15 when I realized I couldn't go on like that. It was when I got my first role in this drama called "Amagi goe". There was a solo scene we were going to shoot but when I got to the location the night before, I was taken to this huge ballroom in a hotel and it had 50-60 adults all crowded inside.

Then the producer said, "It's going to be Ninomiya's scene tomorrow. Let us all do our best!", and the entire room responded, "Yeah!!". I was terrified when I realized all these people had gathered around just for me, because I could feel the weight of my responsibility.

Even now, Arashi is being supported by many people working hard behind the scenes. And since all these people are lending us their support, I must do my best in order to leave a lasting impression on everyone.


Would it be too big of an exaggeration to say I didn't go to middle high school? (laugh) A more accurate way of putting it would be that I didn't go to school for a year and a half, from midway through second year to the end of third year. I was in a drama and a movie when I was in second year so I was busy and admittedly used that as an excuse, but when I was in third year, I started rebelling against my parents and the school all the time. Even if I didn't have much by way of work, I still refused to go to school.

Of course my parents would tell me to go to school. Both of them had to work, and that 30 minutes before they left the house for work was a gamble. In the morning, my parents would come and wake me up. They'd do that dozens of times and even pull my covers off. I'd roll around and pretend like I'm going to get up to buy more time, and once my parents left the house I had the house to myself. I'd pull my covers over again and go back to sleep. I wasn't at all anxious or worried. Now that I think about it, I had gotten the wrong idea. Since I was already appearing on TV and stuff, I probably figured that I was pretty well off and could just live off of that.

And because of that, I didn't feel like going to high school either. I did enroll in high school at the urging of the agency and people around me, but I stopped going after one week. That was when the agency got really angry and cancelled all of my work. Up until that point, I always had jobs lined up for me, so it was a huge wake-up call when everything was gone. I'm a loser, I realized; I had nothing.

That was my turning point, when I started studying like a madman. After all, I'd never studied after around midway through my second year of middle high school. I bombarded the teachers with questions during class and studied like crazy. As a result, my exam marks from the first quarter were all really high, and my report card was all As and Bs. Amazing, right? (laugh) And it didn't only prompt me to change my studying habits either, even my attitude towards work has changed a lot. I've decided not to do things half-heartedly anymore. I originally joined Johnny's because I admired it so much, so I really wanted to debut. Even thought I've since debuted with Arashi, I'm not satisfied with the way things are right now. I'm determined to aim even higher and higher.


I'm in my third year of university, and miraculously I've been managing to earn my credits. I haven't failed a single course. It's because I go to my university lectures like any other person. I don't wear caps, and of course I don't try to disguise myself either; I show up as-is. What about the people around me? Once I'm on campus, no one comes near me at all. Maybe I'm just not that popular (laugh).

It's different in my case, because I didn't want to join Johnny's, I just wanted to learn hip hop dance. I really wanted to learn how to dance, and I wanted to dance with people who are good, but I had nobody like that around me. We didn't have dance classes back then like we do now either. But I figured that I could learn all kinds of dances if I became a Junior, and that was the motive that drove me to join.

I joined Johnny's in my second year of middle high school and became a Junior, but being part of Johnny's became a sort of complex to me. I really hated the thought of being told, "It's because you're doing that sort of thing that you're not doing well at school". Let alone being held back a grade, I couldn't even imagine what people would say to that. I was part of an escalator school from primary onward, but more and more super smart guys were joining along the way by passing entrance exams. At one point I wondered why I had to be lumped together with these guys who had to study to pass the exams, but I worked hard and my grades were decent too. Until I became a part of Arashi, I never missed a day of school either.

When I was in my first and second year of high school, I started thinking about my plans for the future and figured it was about time to quit this job. It's time consuming, there's no guaranteed future, and I was ostracized by my senpais for being famous even though I wasn't even all that famous as a Junior. But then I debuted as a part of Arashi, and I can't quit anymore because I've already debuted.

I felt this way back in high school and I still do now: I want to treat my life like it's an everyday ordinary one. I often hear that people lose their common sense by virtue of being in the entertainment industry, so to speak, but I don't want to be like that. Even though I'm in this line of work, I want to be an ordinary person as a member of this society. That's my take on it.


Since I've joined Johnny's, I've cried two times. It was when I was doing stage plays in Kyoto, when I was 17 and then 18. Johnny's had these stage plays done by Juniors in Kyoto at the time, and I moved from Tokyo to Kyoto for it. There was one more guy who went over there from Tokyo, and the two of us shared an apartment.

We were both guys, so our place was like a garbage dump. There were tons of cockroaches too. Raw trash can actually dissolve plastic bags when they start rotting, did you know that? I was planning to throw it out, but it tore through the bottom of the garbage bag and spilled raw trash all over the floor. But no, that didn't make me cry.

Both times took place backstage. I played the role of Ushiwakamaru, so I had to do wire action in the air. It was pitch black offstage, and as I was dangling in the air waiting for my time to go in, the tears started flowing. But I was drenched in sweat so no one noticed (laugh). I was homesick. Other Junior guys were in Tokyo, going on TV and appearing in magazines, and getting to do so much work; why did I have to be in stuck in a place like Kyoto? I was stuck in a cockroach-infested apartment, eating cup ramen all the time, having to dangle in the air.

I was finally able to go back to Tokyo after two years had passed, and it was around then that I figured I would quit Johnny's. It was about time to start thinking about my future or I could be in big trouble. Once I decided to quit, I gave the director a call [T/N: He is referring to Johnny Kitagawa], and the director said to me, "You're back in Tokyo? Good, come over right now. I've got a job for you." Next thing I knew, I was back-dancing for KinKi Kids.

It feels like things just kinda kept happening one after another and brought me to this point. But I'm really, really glad I didn't quit back then. The two years I spent living in Kyoto had been tough at times, but if I hadn't gone through that I wouldn't be the way I am today. Minor obstacles and difficulties don't bother me anymore. In that sense, the tears that I had cried backstage were totally worth it.


Oh my, I'm crying but my heart is swelling with pride right now reading this interview. I just recently watched an ep of Mago Mago Arashi where Ohno revisited the place where he stayed in Kyoto. Awww! :'( anyways, thank you so much for translating this and sharing it !

Dou you remember which ep of Mago Mago this was? I'd love to watch it 💙

Thank you for translating! It is really interesting 💙

wow, this really is a great interview, it goes into so much depth and offers such great insight into arashi's thoughts when they were so young. thank you so much for translating and sharing! :)

Aaaahhh!!! This is amazing. I never knew about Aiba's high school. Hahaha. No wonder he liked those experiments so much in A no Arashi. And him working so hard to pass his subjects.
And Nino not wanting make up. I think that is still true. Calling his debut a scam. Hahaha! That is so Nino.
And Jun being a rebel, and not going to school and learning his lessons the hard way. The hard working Jun is already there in his youth. But all those stories of rebel Jun might be true afterall. Sho being blunt as always, while trying to be polite. And him saying that he didn't want his joining Johnny's be the reason for him failing school, he sais this one recently, too.
Ohno, oh my dear Ohno, yes, the decomposing trash can eat through the garbage bag. Hahaha! And him talking about Kyoto when it was still fresh, just a few years back, it must have been hard for him.
The sense of responsibility that they feel and the desire to be better and do better, are some of the things that made me a fan of this group. And I am so happy about how far they have gone.

Thank you for translating this interview. This is precious!

Aaaaaah so much feels
I love them , no matter howmany times  people told  me that arashi went through so many obstacles back then  , i won't be able to imagine how hard it was for them  , they really  tried their best ( & they still do ) since back and it is clear from this interview that they were so worried about their future as a group :"( , it's a miracle  when you know  that three of them didn't want johnnys at first , when i put myelf in their shoes  , i think it's really hard  to be forced to work hard like crazy , unsure where this road will take you to  :"(  but it's great: their way of thinking : " work hard to become better , dreaming big "  it shows that they were very responsible
I'm very glad that they realised their dreams  and became one of the best idols group in the world ❤
Until now they are still working hard and never lose their humble & warm  personalities , always shining and smiling!! That's why they can spread happiness and hope to the fans  and  change their  lives to  better ( they really did  changed my life )
I  really respect them , not anyone could do the same
**a  very proud arashian with teary eyes **
Thank you very much for translating this , it's so precious

Thanks for sharing! Old mag interviews are rabu~!

This is excellent. Jun is still a monster in the mornings, Aiba a little shy, Nino had to be bribed with money, Sho having this school complex and Ohno's anecdote about crying in Tokyo never fails to tug at my heartstrings. So glad that these men persevered in the industry to be where they are now.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview!

(The part about the reporter noticing Ohno staring blankly into space had me rolling on the floor.)

i loved that part about Ohno too!! some things never change. :)

This old magz is full of love XD

2002 was the year they was spending their tour night at hotel what they want with arashi and those times was precious indeed...

Aaa i just know that AIba high school emphasized more into science and maths..sasuga aiba chan XD it felt like A no Arashi XD
and his family has a cruise, he should bring ohno to fishing trips with his family cruise.yay date XD

and Sho was blunt and honest since before but it was really shaped him to not take things for granted the works he has now...

I really hope Nino will take directiing one day like his dream..and maybe other arashi members can act in his movie XD

i can feel what ohno felt during his kyoto alone fr from family is hard esp for him who was a teen.../hug ohchan..
but i m glad johhny san gave him more job after he went back to tokyo so he didnt have a chance to leave XD

OMG Jun didnt go to school for long wonder sho lectured him that education was important...pat2 jun

thank you for sharing this,,this is so precious XD

Wow, that was really interesting! Thanks for the translation!
You can already see their personalities shining through: Jun aiming higher, Sho being a professional workaholic, Aiba working so hard at whatever it is with a smile, Nino aimimng to become Mr. JAA the 39th, Ohno taking whatever life throws at  him complacently. This was really great! They've matured, but at the same time they haven't changed at all.

Aww.. it's interesting to know about their past!! Ohno's 2 years in Kyoto was so harsh.. I remember him saying how the food their mothers would send would spoil too.. they must had no idea how to live on their own.. lol.. but he's stronger now :)

As for Aiba!! I wanted to hear about his high school years.. and it's interesting that he had to study math a lot.. lol.. I have new respect for him..

Jun shock me alittle.. lol.. very interesting to know about him too.. so he was the most difficult in his teenage age even with his family.. haha.. good thing they took away his work so he can think it over..

Sho and Nino's way of thinking too.. hope one day Nino would be a director..

Thank you for translating this.. otsukare sama <3

Thank you for translating ! I can't even describe the feelings I have right now.

It was really interesting, thanks for sharing^^

I would love to see Nino directing a movie!
Thanks for sharing, this was great =)

You're right, this is a must-read for any fan! So grateful to you for translating this gem. This is so insightful. I understood that it was tough for Ohno in Kyoto, but I never knew it was to this extent. Each and every one of them really worked hard and went through a lot just to be where they are today. So much respect. Thank you for sharing!


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