Sunday, August 18, 2013

Mai Story - an Interview with Shiraishi Mai

Non-interview scans available at 2013.07 G FLASH - Shiraishi Mai.
Original translation by 靡姽婳 from Baidu! Original Mandarin translation here.

Shiraishi Mai

M A I      S T O R Y

Childhood, School Absentee, Encounter with Music...
Nogizaka46's new centre, the trace of a 20 year old.

Selected as centre for the sixth single, the sudden rise of Shiraishi Mai, also known as "Maiyan." 
Admired as an elder sister by many members, this is the first time that her secret story prior to 
becoming centre will be uncovered in bare.

On 1992 August 20th, in a city within Gunma Prefecture (群馬県), a day during the mid-summer heat & the strong beaming light. This day, a gem-like baby was born in the Shiraishi household; this is the second child, Shiraishi Mai.

"When I was young I was a child to be worried of. Easily cries, very fearful of strangers. During kindergarten, my friend's mother would wave at me & called 'lil Maiyan', but because I didn't know what to do I didn't responded at all, I was very timid."

While her response to her friend's mother was "salty", in the face of family & friends is a happy & energetic side.

"My relation with my three-years older sister is great even till this day. Thinking back, we never fought. The surrounding of my home was once piled with a lot of snows, so in my youth we made snowman or made snow temple, & also played stuffs like playing house. Regarding this kind of stuffs I was girly as is usual I suppose. Oh yes, my hair is dark brown, so I was often mistaken as a halfie, & later on teacher even got angry at me saying "You dyed your hair!" (laugh) During kindergarten, I even played pretend fighting game, using rolled-up newspaper & tried my best like "ahhiii" to hit boys. (laugh) In my memory there was a childhood sweetheart that lived nearby, both households have great relationship, & there are happy memory of going to places like Disney Land. 

Although later on will become a TV presence, during this time there already exist a bond with the TV. "The deepest recollection of myself is of watching TV. Although many children are roughly about this way, but at that time I really liked anime, & being a bit influenced by my sister, often watched Sailor Moon. I still remember watching Education TV (Kyōiku terebijon, currently Etere.)"

On something that people minds, lets talk about memory of first love. Was there someone you liked?

"Can I not say? Well to say so bluntly, yes. (laugh) I still remember. It was someone like an adult, the kind of kid popular in the class... Later on the type I like didn't really changed. It's the kind called 'kid general' by people I suppose."

There's a time when many things were learned as well.

"I learned calligraphy, piano, swimming, & English conversation. Calligraphy I started from kindergarten senior grade till middle school 2nd or 3rd grade, till 7th dan (middle school ranking) I think. It was influenced by my sister who was learning at that time too, now that I think about it I am still very glad I did learn it. Learning swimming also began from kindergarten senior grade, but stopped after one or two years, I felt that it wasn't really suitable for me. (laugh) Piano I learned from elementary grade one till grade six for a total of six years. Even today if there's a piano on the shooting scene I would still want to play it a bit. Back during school aren't there always one girl that plays the piano when everyone else are singing, at that time I never can become the alternative candidate, because there were many other girls who wanted to play, so I opt not to go. (laugh) English I learned from elementary 1st grade till 3rd grade in middle school. Everyday conversation I can still do today, so if someone asked for direction in English, I will try hard to response in English. Compared to other subjects English mark was the best, so thinking about it now having learned this initially was great. Even thought I learned all these things, but in kindergarten my dream was to open a cake store. (laugh)"

Was there any educational principles your parent talked to you of since you were young?

"About principles, there were two. The first is 'to become someone with common scene/knowledge' & another is 'to become someone that knows to say thank you to people.' Although it wasn't a very strict family, but these two points I still hold deep to heart till now"

The middle school age, being tanned black due to passion toward softball

Entered an elementary school where "walking to school need 20 to 30 minutes." Like during kindergarten time, growing & thriving.

"I wasn't a very notable person, but not someone without a presence either, just a normal child. Finishing five years of learning. If divide into upper, middle, & lower level, I'm around middle-upper level kind of person. Something I remembered during elementary, in grade two, during the theatre play performed at the farewell party for the six grader. I played in Omusubi koro rin (おむすびころりん), but not as the protagonist. I'm not the kind that goes "I want to play this character!" & raise my hand type, the nervousness of performing in front of people I cannot forget. However I really like festival, at the big local festivals, I played drum, played flute, I was a 'child of festival.' (laugh)"

Until elementary fifth grade you studied hard, was there a specific reason for the decline in school marks?

"Upon reaching grade six, compared to studying, my interest in fashion became hard to handle. At that time I want to become someone good at dressing up, & looked up to modeling. Don't really wore pants & always wore skirt. Basically in the future I wanted to do something related to fashion, abstractly speaking I wanted to become someone that is looked up to by people."

Liking fashion while entering middle school, & somehow turned into someone that chases after balls in the softball club. Sporting a short hair that arguably wasn't fashionable, tanned black by the sun.

"Originally joined the wind instrument club. However, got into conflicts with senpais & the people in the first grade (laugh) 'you didn't greet properly' 'no, I did.' This was the kind of conflicts that occurred between the middle schoolers, so I transferred to the softball club. Was only planning on participating in the trial experience only, but for the reason that I really enjoyed catching balls so I decided to join. (laugh)"

Never knew that developing a new world ended up maturing a new talent.

"At the softball club there were no people from the 3rd grade, & even for the 2nd grade there were only eight members. Therefore even though I was only a 1st grader I was able to compete, although I only substitute base-running. (laugh) I very fast at running,  50 metres I can complete is some seven seconds, during elementary school got 6th place in the marathon competition, & won awards. My position was 2nd base, never calculated my hit rate, but I suppose it was around 30%. Although I was the second batter, when condition was good they would let me be the 4th batter too. Counting it I batted some 10 home runs even. Although most were cipher for safety bunt. (laugh)"

The practice after school & everyday were frequent & tough. The result of such hard work was achieving top four in the prefecture competition during 2nd grade. I was completely captivated by softball, living everyday happily, the youth spent with my teammates is something I will never forget.

However, something threatens this fulfilling normal life.

Staying away from the classroom, school absentee from later half of middle school 3rd grade

"I, stopped going to the classroom for the second half of middle school 3rd grade."

This was a sudden confession. While recollecting past memories, she spontaneously revealed this past happening.

"From the winter break of middle school 2nd grade I started to ponder whether to go or not. I myself wanted to go on  normally, but because of some trivial disputes, going to the classroom became something very painful. Although up until 3rd grade I have withstand it, but after summer break I didn't want to go to the classroom anymore."

Yearning of the days focused on softballs with friends. The days where going back is not an option no matter what continued.

"Despite this I still gone to school, just not to the classroom, so I was still counted as present, & graduated without any problems. I didn't just despair because of this by the way. Friends from the softball club do came of my house, studying by myself was time happily spend too. Friends also invited me 'Let go back to the classroom?' But I was very bold, very firmly I replied 'Absolutely not.'"

Regardless of who there were this experience, during adolescence where one often uncontrollably rage toward one's family. Can't really say who's fault it is, it's just something unique to the adolescence age. Likewise Shiraishi would also have something regrettable that happened too.

"It happened while I was as always studying at home. Suddenly kept thinking of things from school, the content of the book completely unable to be read. & then without knowing why, with a waaa made a mess of stuffs inside the house. At that time without conscious created a lot of troubles at home..."

Shiraishi didn't attend the graduation ceremony. After all the graduates attended the ceremony, gone back to school alone, & hold a graduation ceremony for herself.

From caregiver to singer, dramatic change to future dream!

What way can I restart my life, the choice of entering a local high school was forsaken in Shiraishi's mind.

"For high school an all-girl school in Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県) was chosen. For local children studying at a local high school is a natural course, but I didn't want to do so. Now that I think of it I was really determined. Originally I already have a desire to head to the cities, so as I entered high school, my life in Saitama Prefecture also started."

Although was staying in a place that I never seen or stayed at before but didn't felt scared, in comparison, my hope for the future starting now endlessly expand in my heart. At school I also actively made friends. While back at my hometown there's only a few streetcars per hour, here they flows like the river. In the face of this environment there was a scene of freshness, I really like it. I lived with my mother, so I also felt relative peace at mind.

"Everyday life, I spent with friends taking purikura, or going to the karaoke, it was really happy. Unlike back at Gunma Prefecture, here can access Shibuya (渋谷) or Harajuku (原宿) conveniently, so often gone shopping as well."

While shopping star scouts often approached me, the business cards received from them towers several centimetres when piled up. But at that time I was only interested in fashion, there was not yet any thought of becoming an entertainer.

"Around high school 2nd grade, it was time to consider future aspiration, & I wanted to become a caregiver (保育士, looks like this.) For this I selected classes in this area, & studied everyday. Although still look up to modeling, but I didn't have the determination to become a model."

It was spring during high school grade three. That day, destiny took a huge turn.

"At the graduation progression briefing, I heard the presentation to the music college. I like music very much, so I decided to take a look, so with a casual mood gone to the school experience camp. At this junction, I attended even more school experience camps, & the dream to enter the singing world became more & more clear. "

When singing at the karaoke, my classmate would compliment my "great sense of rhythm." Shiraishi, being proficient in songs from Morningu Musume & Nishino Kana, secretly dreams of what her future will look like.

"Didn't want to become a solo singer, rather wish to become like SPEED, or PERFUME, a unit with a small number of singers. I was determined that after entering music college, to look for partners that can compose a unit together with. (laugh)"

After having this determination, the thought once ago of becoming a caregiver & the hard studies put toward it, it evaporated from the mind.

The life that started after moving to Saitama Prefecture, as high school graduation followed so did the direction forward changed.

A change in destiny after receiving a leaflet from the class teacher

Entering music college was two years ago during spring. At that time for the dream of becoming a singer, started studying hard.

"In college there was singing class, listening, music theory, gospel, etc... Compared to high school, I really studied very hard. (laugh)"

Despite saying so, the surrounding is filled with students with singing as aspiration. Frustration arise as feeling that myself lack strength emerged.

"They were all children very proficient at singing. I actually did thought, whether entering here was really the right choice..."

At this time, the class teacher personally handed me a leaflet, saying: "This audition, do you want to try it?"

This leaflet, is exactly for "AKB48's official rival Nogizaka46", one sentence from the class teacher, changed Shiraishi's life from then on.

"Initially I declined. however, the teacher said, this is a kind of learning too, & pushed me a bit. So, since I was persuaded to participate, I decided to try it out."

The AKB48 of two years ago, was when all the singles were consecutive big hits, a growing idol group that was a household name. Shiraishi of course knew of them.

"Although I didn't know much, but names like Maeda Atsuko-san & Kojima Haruna-san I do know. At the karaoke friends sing their songs too, so I know many of their songs as well, but other than these I didn't have any deeper understanding of them, 'what exactly is an official rival?' at that time it felt very unimaginable."

Shiraishi continuously succeeded in the audition, while the number of candidates get filtered down. If this continues, what will my life looks like? She was encroached by such insecurity.

"There were classmates from my college that failed midway, they said to me 'please work hard for our sake too!'"

Despite the support of friends behind her back, but within the heart was still uncertainty. This uncertainty, till the final audition date would not disappear.

"After passing the audition there were members crying. For me however, the thought in my mind was that what should I do... Immediately I called my mother, it seems she was immediately relieved, & told me, since you are selected you have to try your best."

This is a rare opportunity, so let give it a hard try on this path. After hearing mother's words, this oath was made at the audition place.

"Because your mother is your number one fan"

As a result classes started very soon. The few months in music college developed a foundation in singing, so everyday the practices was on dancing. From morning till night never ending.

"Didn't have dancing experience so it was a tough battle. I suppose I was one of the harder working ones among those without experience. Only in regard to the sense of rhythm was I confident in. (laugh)"

Actually, there was once when serious thoughts were put toward the question of whether to continue on works in Nogizaka46, this was when fans saw thing that happened before practice.

"It felt like arriving at a place totally different from what I imagined, I began to thought this way.  Originally I entered music college to be a singer, but it seems like a road totally different was chosen... Carrying this kind of uncertainty in mind, is it possible to happily continue on activities. This feeling was told to fellow members straightforwardly."

Shiraishi, along with the "elder sister groups" that have already graduated high school interact together more often, together they discussed trustingly. What they wanted to do, life from then on, discussion like such lasted without awareness of time, by the time it was noticed it was already night time. The result of such discussion was -

"Thought about it for a while, but in the end still was decided, to look forward & continue on with the activities. After then, the uncertainty disappeared."

Even though up util now that determination have not shaken, but there was a time when I felt discouraged due to excessively busyness, at that time the words from mother appeared in mind."

"It was words given to me during my birthday. 'Life only happens once, spend it with thankfulness to the people around you. This way, one day your hard work will be repaid. As for me your mom, I'm your number one fan, & will always support (oen, 応援) you.' She sent this message, reading it, tears cannot be helped but flows down."

Having received such teaching since youth, even now she talks of her deep gratitude toward her mother. Before shooting she will say "Please take care", after shooting she will say "Thank you very much." such greetings never missed, might be exactly a result of listening to her mother's teaching.

Centre is a opportunity to pave a new path.

Being chosen as new centre! Determination. And words from Ikoma.

Last year February 22nd, Nogizaka46 debuted with Guruguru Curtain, & from then on, Shiraishi was always in the 2nd row position, holding a place among "shichi fukujin" (currently hachi fukujin) among the 16-members senbatsu, & have always been an important member.

Yet this year, for the 6th single that will be on sale on July, finally stepped into the centre position.

"To be honest, it's quite unsettling. Till this day it have always been Ikoma Rina in centre position, I was closest to her position watching her back, therefore, Ikoma's hardship I understand more clearly than anyone else, so the heaviness of this centre position I understand more clearly than anyone else."

The members of the single senbatsu was announced at the regular TV program "Nogizakatte, Doko?" It was the same regarding the 6th single's position. The announcement started from the middle of the thrid row in senbatsu, by the 2nd row Ikoma's name was called. Ikoma for the first time was removed from centre position. At that moment, Shiraishi kept looking down at the ground thinking about something unknown.

"When will I be called? If I become centre what should I do? At that time I considered these, before then never thought of wanting to stand in centre position. Even though always been standing in the 2nd row, have thought of wishing to sing in the 1st row..."

Shiraishi becoming centre, becoming responsible for a heavy burden never shouldered before. That heaviness is quite clearly marked on the heart.

"There are many things that the centre have no choice but to overcome. However, really standing on that position, not thinking of how to overcome these thing is not workable. Without such an determination, no one would be wiling to follow you. If I don't exert myself, affirm my belief, a new Nogizaka46 will not be able to be created. With my age similar to a elder sister role, & the need to bring everyone on a new path, showing the 2nd form of Nogizaka to the public."

This, is centre Shiraishi Mai's declaration. Nogizaka's Shiraishi Mai is just beginning, even if failed no one can assign blame, yet, a centre that is ready to fail, no one will support in open. From her words one can feel such a strong resolve.

"This is a very rare opportunity, so I want to present a new face of Nogizaka46. I myself have all sort of jobs, in those places can also further expand Nogizaka's fame to society. There's a strong sense of determination that I need to take the lead."

This year's January started to serve as a regular guest in a horse racing show, at the same time became MC for variety show Bachi Bachi Erekiteru (バチバチエレキテル), fashion magazine Ray's official model is also her, to slowly expand Nogizaka46's fame, work hard in participating in shootings.

The determination to take the lead that was just mentioned, there's Ikoma's influence.

"This is something that happened several days after the senbatsu announcement when we met. Ikoma said to me 'This time I will be supporting you.' The relationship between Ikoma & me is of mutual support when suffering. I deeply remember these things."

What one minds is, the goal from now on. An an individual Shiraishi Mai, where does you goal now lies?

"While doing all sort of activities, want to discover what I really want to do. & then do something closely related to the future. Be a solo singer trying singing & that kind of stuffs. (laugh) However, being one person is still lonely.  It is still best to have a unit (laugh), hopefully one day, that unit can stand on the stage of Nippon Budōkan (日本武道館)!"

If there will be such a day to be able to stand upon Budōkan, I want to yell such toward fellow fans, companions, & mother:

"Thank you all!!"


  1. Thanks so much for sharing!
    This article basically further solidified why Maiyan is my oshimen. Those photos are so precious, she is such a cute cutie. Also enjoyed the fact that this interview touched upon her roots of life to now the budding beautiful 20 year old who will soon turn 21. I can't wait to see the day when she's blossoming and the many paths she will walking on \o/

  2. wow, i like maiyan a lot more now (she is one of my favourites). The interview is so complete O: she talks about a lot of things and it's cool to know her better. When i see their performances i can always notice how nervous she usually is, and now i confirm it after reading this ♥

    Thank you for sharing, i really appreciate your work!

  3. Keep Shining Maiyan, I'll Always Be By You Side Supporting You...No Matter What You Will Always Be My No.1 Oshimen...X13

  4. maiyan is the angel of my life...and that was a very touching story... even though im just that one fan.... ill always be your loyal pet...I mean fan..UNTIL NOW & FOREVER ILL ALWAYS SUPPORT & >3 YOU!!!SHIRAISHI MAI FOR EVA YEAWHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I think Maiyan one of my favourite but my oshimen still Ikomachan