Special thanks to Azureus from momoiroclover.net for the scans.
Quick Japan vol. 119 side-A “Aarin”
Can’t think of anything but Aarin
Special photo vol.1
Aarin’s a Parisian
“Aarin” is a magic word.
Just saying it out loud makes one feel so happy.
Even all the bad things just disappear.
Even an impossible “pinch” transforms into “pink” in an instant.
Aarin is the idol who holds such a magical power.
That’s why it’s impossible to explain Aarin, even if we try to talk about her.
Would you like to know how Aarin came about?
Would you like to hear about her elementary school days?
You must surely want to know why her mother set such strict rules for her, right?
Because you can’t think of anything but Aarin.
How did the idol, whose personality fits pink better than anyone else in the world, spend her time in Paris?
When you cut the power to Aarin Robot, how will she get the energy to move again?
If we get her to do that Showa idol cosplay again, what charms will she show us?
The Aarin nobody knows, the Aarin everybody wants to see, is overflowing through all these pages.
Experience the “force” that is Aarin through these endless pages, until you can’t think of anything but Aarin!
Special photo vol.2
Aarin’s “Showa Idol” 7 Transformations
M1 – Matsuda Seiko’s “Akai sweetpea” (8th single / Released 21 Jan 1982)
M2 – Matsuda Seiko’s “Seifuku” (8th single C/W track / Released 21 Jan 1982)
M3 – Koizumi Kyoko’s “The Stardust Memory” (13th single / Released 21 Dec 1984)
M4 – Nakamori Akina’s “Shojo A” (2nd single / Released 28 Jul 1982)
M5 – Kikuchi Momoko’s “Shibuya de goji” (from Suzuki Masayuki’s 6th album ‘Perfume’ / Released 9 Sep 1993)
M6 – Minamino Yoko’s “Haikara-san ga tooru” (10th single / Released 2 Dec 1987)
M7 – Moritaka Chisato’s “Watashi ga oba-san ni nattemo” (from 6th album ‘ROCK ALIVE’ / Released 25 Mar 1992)
Special photo vol.3
Aarin Robot, wake up…
The Sasaki Home, Mother-Daughter Conversation
~Now, we bring 18 years of reality to light~
Often called “identical twins”, the Sasaki mother-daughter pair is perhaps best known for how strictly the former has brought up the latter. Finally, the reality of those 18 years is brought to light! How did the name “Aarin” come about? And what’s this about a book that influenced the development of the character “Aarin”? Plus, the real reason why those strict rules were put in place… Together with a treasured photo album, Ayaka reveals, for the very first time, “Sasaki Ayaka Episode 0”! Compiled into this Aarin special, history’s greatest mother-daughter conversation begins!
Photos (from R to L)
You can tell it’s Aarin from the round eyes.
What was she telling the teddy bear?
Sound asleep, wrapped in a blanket. She usually didn’t wake up nor cry at night.
Her first birthday. Munching on shortcake.
1 year & 4 months
Holding the rabbit tight with a satisfied expression.
1 year & 4 months
A picture of Aarin eating from a lunch box in a field. A rare photo?
2 years & 5 months
A photo at Disneyland. Maybe she was tired after too much play?
2 years & 7 months
Playing in the snow. She looks happy on the sled, Aarin at “full force”!
2 years & 8 months
She was obsessed with making faces at the camera then.
2 years & 8 months
A 2-year-old using fork and knife to eat steak…
2 years & 11 months
A walk outside with her doll on a fine day!
A playful Aarin with stickers on her cheek.
She went bug-catching, but was too scared to touch any. In the end, she caught nothing, and ended the day with a pose.
Prim and proper before the doll display. The pink kimono suits her so well.
First time skiing. Will she do it well?
A photo at USJ. Will she become a world-famous star one day?
A silly face, but perfect table manners!
Smiling in a blooming farm. A true flower girl.
A photo while vacationing in Hokkaido. So, where are we going next?
A trip to Kyoto. With cherry blossoms before the Shirakawa bridge in Gion.
Aarin loves Disney!
She owned so much merchandise.
In a bright kimono. Her face is enough to make our hearts skip a beat.
She preferred eating sweets to riding on attractions.
Before her elementary school graduation. Saying goodbye to the backpack she’d used for 6 years.
“SOMEHOW, I JUST FELT THAT I COULD ONLY RAISE A DAUGHTER”
— Thank you for coming in today. This is a campaign we’ve done with all the Momoclo members for their special editions. Today, we hope to hear stories from Mama and Ayaka’s youth, and about your everyday lives.
MAMA: Oh, actually… I don’t think I can share any special or interesting stories. Our lives are really very normal.
AYAKA: You always say that. (laugh) Anyway, I’m worried about what you’ll share when I’m not around, so I’ll be staying right here!
— Not to stress you out, but many readers have shared about their expectations of this issue, so we’ve gathered lots of requests and questions.
MAMA: Are you joking? (bitter laugh)
— Oh, it’s true. So, let’s look at these baby photos and talk about this chronologically.
AYAKA: Oh! Photos… But they’re so ugly! You’ll be surprised, I was really not cute at all.
MAMA: I never thought I’d have to share them like this, so I’ve cut up some photos, and written notes on others. Sorry for the different sizes. Now that you mention it, you really weren’t that cute…
AYAKA: I peaked at being ugly during 1st grade of elementary school.
— Anyway, let’s move on. (bitter laugh) Is this the very first photo of her?
MAMA: That’s right. It’s dated 30 August, so that’s 2.5 months after she was born.
AYAKA: It’s really not cute. My face was like a square, and I had so little hair.
MAMA: You weighed 2970 grams when you were born. It was quite an average weight.
— Did you know that she was a girl when you were pregnant with her?
MAMA: I wonder… But somehow, I just felt that I could only raise a daughter. I don’t think the doctor told me anything, but I was convinced I was going to have a daughter, so I only thought of girls’ names.
AYAKA: If I turned out to be a boy, you probably would have gotten a huge shock.
— Did you decide on the name ‘Ayaka’ then?
MAMA: I didn’t care so much about the sound of the name, but more for the kanji characters. There were so many names I wanted, then I remembered that they do an annual ‘name ranking survey’, and I found out that ‘Ayaka’ was the top name that year. So I decided to use this popular name, and my husband agreed. We quickly decided to use the kanji characters for ‘colorful (彩)’ and ‘summer (夏)’, and that was that.
AYAKA: I was born in June. That’s not summer.
MAMA: It’s not spring, either.
AYAKA: Oh, it’s early summer?
MAMA: Anyway, I just wanted to use the character for ‘summer’. If I hadn’t decided on ‘Ayaka’, I would probably have chosen something like ‘Natsumi (夏海 – summer sea)’.
AYAKA: I’m glad you didn’t choose that!
MAMA: Why not?
AYAKA: I mean, I don’t like the sea. I can’t even swim.
MAMA: I won’t know that. Besides, if you were called Natsumi, maybe you’d come to love the sea.
AYAKA: Oh, I guess. Maybe I would’ve tried harder to learn how to swim. (bitter laugh)
MAMA: By the way, something really lovely happened to me about 2 years ago, when this girl told me “I like the sound of my name, and I love the kanji characters too”. It was the single phrase in these 18 years that made me the happiest.
— How did the topic come about?
MAMA: Maybe she was doing some autographs at home? Suddenly, she just said, “Mama, Aarin really loves the characters ‘Ayaka’.” I was so happy, because it’s rare for her to say such things.
AYAKA: Well, it’s embarrassing to say it out loud…
MAMA: Maybe it’s because she’s an only child, so there’s never a need to fight for a parent’s attention. She knows she’ll always have our full attention. But she turned out a little different from how I imagined an only child would be like. For example, she never remembers Mother’s Day, or my birthday.
AYAKA: But I do celebrate your birthday! But maybe not Mother’s Day…
MAMA: You’d think it’ll be easy to remember, seeing all the notices and gifts displayed in stores whenever it’s that time of year.
AYAKA: But I’m always grateful to you. I don’t need to wait till Mother’s Day to do that…
MAMA: Yes, of course, of course. (laugh)
— This is truly the best mother-daughter chat. (laugh)
MAMA: Well, that was how we decided on her name.
AYAKA: Anyway, it’s rare, isn’t it? There aren’t many Ayakas who have the same kanji characters as my name.
— By the way, did she cry at night?
MAMA: Not much. She was wonderful as a baby.
AYAKA: Hey! I’ve always been a wonderful girl. (laugh)
— What a cute sleeping face.
AYAKA: These photos today were all selected by Mama. (bitter laugh) There are some taken at Disneyland and Ueno Zoo too.
— Did the family have many outings together?
MAMA: We did, but there were times when I didn’t let her go to the park to play. However, she didn’t really enjoy camping or the outdoors, so we usually went to theme parks, zoos, or the mall.
AYAKA: We didn’t really go to the beach either.
MAMA: We did, 2-3 times. But this girl hated the sand, and didn’t want to walk on it because it felt gross on her bare feet.
AYAKA: Eheheh. But I’ve gotten used to it recently.
MAMA: She also hated it when sand got onto the beach mats we laid out. That was why we stopped going to the beach, aside from simple trips just to look at the sea.
AYAKA: Well, there’s nothing to do at the beach. If I swim in the sea, I’ll be cold when I get out.
MAMA: True, you just didn’t know how to have fun at the beach, because I didn’t know how to help you appreciate it.
AYAKA: The only way I knew how to have fun was to achieve goals, such as go on attractions or look at animals. But Papa always played with me. He was in-charge of playing and exercising with me.
MAMA: As long as it didn’t include cooking with fire, because she’s really very clumsy. When she was in kindergarten, she ran into a wall and knocked her front teeth loose. She knew there was a wall there, but she ran into it despite everything. And then, a year later…
AYAKA: I ran into the same wall again. (laugh)
MAMA: I brought her to the same hospital and told the doctor that her teeth were knocked loose again! (laugh) She also fell down a lot. She’d go off to play badminton, then come back 2 minutes later and say she wanted to quit because she fell down. (bitter laugh) It was just too dangerous for her, so I eventually forbid all exercise. It was all a way to take care of my child.
— I see. By the way, there are lots of photos with strange faces.
AYAKA: I didn’t think I really enjoyed making faces, but I guess I did.
MAMA: Whenever I told her to pose for a photo, she’d make a face, so these are all the photos I had. Also, there are some photos I didn’t bring because it was a group shot with many people, but those photos of her with her cousins, well, you can really sense the “force” that is Aarin.
AYAKA: Ahahaha, I agree. (laugh)
MAMA: She would pin her cousin’s arms behind his back and make him cry. I’m sure the Momoclo members probably experienced this too. A “force” she exhibits away from her parents’ eyes, that can potentially amaze the other members.
— So that was where that “force” comes from. (laugh)
MAMA: She really loved this casual clothes store called Pink House. We even wore matching outfits bought from that store.
AYAKA: Yes! Actually, before this interview, I attended a press conference regarding a collab with Pink House. I was surprised that I actually helped to promote them.
HOW DID THE NAME AARIN COME ABOUT?
— What did you call Aarin when she was a child?
MAMA: Until her first birthday, my husband and I both called her Aa-chan. However, there were really so many kids with the name Ayaka, so everywhere we went, parents were calling their daughters Aa-chan or Aya-chan. In order to help her recognize that we’re referring to her, we decided to call her Aarin instead. So by her first birthday, she was already known as Aarin.
— That’s a cool piece of information about Aarin! I guess for Aarin, that’s probably the only name she’s ever known.
AYAKA: It’s true, I never felt that Aya-chan suited me. It just doesn’t ring any bells.
— So that was her at 1 year old. What kind of child was she at 2-3 years old?
MAMA: We had an area similar to a play room, filled with her toys. I’d put her there to play, then assure her that I’d stay nearby. However, if I so much as moved 1 meter away, she would scream “Mama’s gone! Waaaah!” and start wailing.
AYAKA: Ahahaha. (laugh)
MAMA: She was really very timid. I remember there was a roly-poly toy that would scare her to tears. Even a moving Akabeko toy was too frightening for her. It was quite amazing.
AYAKA: I remember crying super hard every time I couldn’t see Mama nearby.
MAMA: I also gave me the wrong impression that she loved me. What a mistake that was. (laugh) I was really worried if she’d be able to handle going to kindergarten. Would she keep crying for her Mama and make trouble for the teachers? But on her first day, she entered class without any fuss, with a happy “Bye bye!” (laugh) I really couldn’t understand it, she didn’t even turn back to wave goodbye. I guess she’d changed back then and become stronger.
— That’s life, isn’t it?
MAMA: Maybe it was because her worldview before that was very narrow. Then, she discovered a more enjoyable world with lots of friends. When she entered kindergarten, she also started dance lessons. When she danced in front of everyone during performances and events, she seemed in her element, and I realized a different side of her. She never hesitated when it came to performing, nor did it make her afraid. However, when we first went for a trial lesson, she insisted on just watching the other girls instead of joining in herself.
AYAKA: Oh! I remember that!
MAMA: She remained watching the entire lesson, and I despaired that I’d never be able to get her to do sports. (laugh) Then, one day, she suddenly told her she wanted to try it. She even insisted that I call the dance school to sign her up right away.
— What made her change her mind?
MAMA: Now that I think about it, she’s the type who likes to keep her thoughts to herself. And when she’s made up her mind, her determination would burst through. For example, she never makes a big fuss about how hard she studies at school, but does it quietly. She also keeps her emotions to herself, so I’m often surprised when I hear about what’s happened to her. However, once she says that she’ll do something, I won’t ask her about it again, because she’ll continue to strive at it on her own.
IDOL WORK AND SCHOOL
— That’s surely reflected in Momoclo’s Sasaki Ayaka too. She picked up dance willingly, and when she entered elementary school, she started work in the entertainment world too. How did that come about?
MAMA: She joined the agency in September of her first year in elementary school. She was scouted, which happened quite often back then. I guess it was a trend? Being scouted wasn’t something rare.
— After being scouted, she decided to try it out?
MAMA: That’s right. She was already dancing, with lots of experience with performing, so it wasn’t something totally new to her. Thus, it felt like an upgrade, without too much extra fuss.
— Do you remember what her first job was?
MAMA: What was it?
AYAKA: I probably started out as an extra in a drama series. I wasn’t very active back then…
MAMA: I think that was it. We didn’t think she’d stay in the entertainment business for long, because it was tough work just to get through a single audition. Anyway, she enjoyed it, just like how normal kids enjoy their after-school club activities. I was quite young too and didn’t know much, so I was having fun and learning lots myself. We didn’t have much worries then.
— By the way, did Mama ever dream of working in the entertainment business too?
MAMA: I did. I heard that someone’s sister was accepting applications, so I secretly recorded a clip of myself singing. However, I didn’t know how to submit it. These days, it’s easier to ask for help, and recruiters are always there to help those with dreams. That wasn’t the case when I was young.
— I see. Anyway, after she started work, you got to spend more time together?
AYAKA: Mama accompanied me to auditions, and to all the places where I worked too.
MAMA: I also went with her for her dance lessons.
AYAKA: My weekends were spent on dance, rather than playing around. On those days, Papa could join us too, so we were together as a family.
MAMA: When she came home from school, she never had the chance to just plonk her bag down and go outside to play. After school, she’d take a nap, then we’d go for her dance lesson. Even after her lesson, she’d stay behind to watch the older girls practice instead of going home. Then, we’d have dinner, and we’d head home and go to bed.
— Did she take any lessons other than dance?
MAMA: She learned classical ballet at another studio. She also went for piano and eurhythmics lessons.
AYAKA: I wanted to study history. I also wanted to carry a rucksack with Nichinoken’s “N” logo.
MAMA: What?! I never knew that!
AYAKA: The kids who studied history always answered well in class, so I thought they were so cool.
MAMA: I’ve never really needed to tell her to study, but for her 3 years in junior high, I supervised and made her study hard. On test days, we would stay up studying until 4 a.m.
AYAKA: Mama was like my home tutor.
MAMA: Even so, she never said no. Thus, I never bothered with how well she actually did on her tests. Any score was ok, as long as she’d done her best. I was glad to join her in studying through the night, and I really enjoyed myself.
THE BOOK THAT SHAPED MAMA’S CHILD EDUCATION STRATEGY
— I’ve never heard all this before. Usually, kids would rebel at this treatment, but it’s amazing that your relationship still remains so good.
MAMA: I’ve always worried over how to raise my child. My goal was to be like my own mother, but I didn’t know what exactly to do. Incidentally, I found a book called “How to raise a flower girl”, written by Sakai Miiko, and I read it. Then, I realized that what she wrote was exactly how I wanted to raise my child. Using that, I came up with my own set of rules and regulations for Ayaka, which might have turned out a little different from what the book suggested… Oh, I’ve brought it along today.
— Whoa, that’s amazing! It’s full of handwritten notes.
MAMA: Oh! That’s because I’ve reread it many times, and I’d love for Ayaka to read it too. This edition was printed in May 1999, which means she was only 3 years old when I bought it. If you read the parts I’ve underlined in red, you can see if my interpretation is biased or not.
AYAKA: I never knew. This is the first time I’ve heard of this book.
— One of the ideas for this special was “Being Aarin is being loyal to Mama’s teachings”. So those “Mama’s teachings” were based on this book?
MAMA: There! Everyone keeps thinking that “Aarin” is a character we’ve created, but Aarin is who this girl really is. If she wants to, she can easily discard this “Aarin” persona. If it is really just a created character, she’d be too afraid to discard it and show her true self.
AYAKA: No no no, you can’t throw Aarin away. (bitter laugh)
MAMA: But I felt she’s been discarding it slightly recently. (laugh) The book made it clear that the main goal of child education is to help the child become independent, so I want to be with her all the way until that is achieved. As a result, I started teaching her table manners very early on. I started her on knives and forks by the time she was 1.5 years old, because I felt that it would help her become an adult quicker.
AYAKA: When going out to restaurants with my friend’s family, I was the only one who gathered her rice on the fork before eating it. (laugh) Mama was super strict about how I held my chopsticks too.
MAMA: It doesn’t really matter when she’s having fun with others, but proper table manners should be second nature to her, and she should be able to choose to exhibit them or not, depending on the situation. Anyway, I was brought up in a different era, so I’ve been really lenient with her. Even for curfews, she had it much better than I did when I was a child.
— That’s a “Sasaki rule” that even the fans know well. No karaoke, no purikura.
AYAKA: That started when I entered junior high. I’ve always been busy with school and dance, so nobody ever asked me to hang out. Mama didn’t even let me read manga, not that I was very interested in it. Also, I wasn’t supposed to send text messages with abandon.
MAMA: I wanted her to be careful with her text replies, so I advised her to read her reply 5 times before pressing the send button. Even an emoji, such as a smiley face, may be misinterpreted by the other party. But rather than making her show me the messages before she sends them, I taught her to write messages that won’t contain content that would make me suspicious enough to want to check.
FINALLY, AARIN LEARNS TO ___________
— I see. That’s logical. How about cooking? You said you didn’t want her to cook with fire.
MAMA: She’ll definitely burn herself. (laugh) Besides, you can cook anything with a microwave nowadays.
— I guess you’re right.
MAMA: Even making coffee at home becomes a big event when she’s the one doing it. She’ll announce that she’s making it to everyone, but we’re usually too afraid to drink it. (laugh)
AYAKA: There was a time when I added salt. I thought it was sugar. (laugh)
MAMA: Even pouring a cup of coffee is a big deal for this girl. I’ve heard that she’s much better when she’s with the other Momoclo members, but she’s still very young. Even now, she sleeps with soft toys. There’s a baby blanket that she’s had since she was 1 year old, and she still hugs it to sleep now. She gets really angry when I try to wash it.
AYAKA: But washing it makes it rough.
MAMA: She says it feels different after washing. I thought kids stop thinking like that once they graduate from elementary school?
AYAKA: Then at least tell me if you wanna wash it! It’s always such a shock when I come home and find it so rough…
MAMA: Then, she’ll tell me to “make it soft again!” (laugh) I always have to soften it by kneading it by hand, before returning it to her, then she’ll just bunch it up anyway. Anyway, she’s started sleeping by herself this year.
— Wait a minute! She just started sleeping alone?
MAMA: Yes. It was after a quarrel we had around the end of last year. One day, she was with my husband, and the two of them were having such a great time chatting together. The sight somehow made me annoyed, and I got curt with her… “What are you two talking about so happily without me!?”
AYAKA: It was a misunderstanding. Mama didn’t want to hear about this thing I was doing that hadn’t been announced yet, because she wanted to know about it at the same time as the fans. It was the live recording we were doing for Uchimura Teruyoshi-san’s show “LIFE!”. Because Papa often watches Uchimura-san’s shows, I told him about it in confidence. That’s all we were talking about! So for me, I didn’t understand why Mama got angry. I got frustrated, went to my room, and cleaned up a space for myself to sleep.
MAMA: That night, I kept checking up on her secretly, to make sure that she didn’t catch a cold. (laugh)
AYAKA: I realized that, so I left the door slightly ajar. (laugh)
MAMA: So you knew. You should have at least said “good night”.
— She’ll come of age this spring. Now that she can sleep alone, it’s the start of her true independence.
MAMA: Either way, she’ll be our responsibility until she reaches 20 years of age. I’ll slowly let her go once she reaches 19, and when she turns 20, I can retire… Or so I thought, because I used to imagine that she would continue with her studies, until I heard her announcement during Kokuritsu. I was really shocked when she said she wanted to “give her life to Momoclo”. For us, it felt like she was announcing she’ll give up schooling, and just focus on Momoclo. It was such a big decision to make to everyone at Kokuritsu, but she’d never discussed it at home.
AYAKA: Well, if I discuss it with Mama at home, you may change my mind.
— The idea to remain strict while she’s a student is still going strong. By the way, a text message from Mama was the hot topic during this year’s New Year Ustream. You said something similar to “Please tell Ayaka to stop eating already”.
MAMA: I was shocked too. (laugh) I mean, she was really eating a lot.
AYAKA: But you never make cheese fondue at home!
MAMA: I felt like I needed to say something to the manager, so I texted him to “please tell her not to eat too much”. And the rest is history. (laugh)
AYAKA: I was stubborn too, so I decided not to eat anymore!
MAMA: This may make her angry, but she has to think about her diet. But to say that she won’t eat might cause everyone else to fuss over her. As I mentioned before, once this girl decides to do something, she’ll not tell anyone about it until she’s achieved it. She might have feigned ignorance during the Ustream, but she knows I’ll quiz her about her meals once she gets home. She always tells me she eats nothing, but I’ll trump her by telling her that I already saw it all on TV. (laugh)
— You two really have the most interesting relationship. And Aarin is really accepting of Mama.
AYAKA: Hmm… Either way, she mostly lets me do whatever I want to do, that’s why. But she can be really noisy. (laugh)
MAMA: Her bed will definitely get dirty and uncomfortable soon, so I think she’ll come back to sleep beside me again. Together with her baby blanket.
How to raise a flower girl: 42 tips to raise a strong, smart lady
On 22 Oct 1993, PHP Research Institute released an article titled “A flower girl, a flower mum”. On 15 Oct 1996, a book titled “How to raise a flower girl: 42 tips to raise a strong, smart lady” was released by PHP Paperback. (Latest edition: March 2015)
Author Sakai Miiko was born on 18 Feb 1926, the eldest daughter of the prominent family of Duke Maeda Toshinari. She spent her childhood in London, and when she returned to Japan, she joined and graduated from an all-girl’s school. During the war, she worked as a secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After marrying Sakai Tadamoto, a former Earl, she started to host seminars, focusing on manners and etiquette, with a specialization in feminine beauty. She is the author of several books, including “The Showa history of a noble family” and “A pictorial encyclopedia to etiquette”. She passed on on 5 Oct 1999.
This book in question features what Sakai terms a “flower girl”, or a girl who is able to charm others, and how to raise one. The book contains child-raising tips, as well as ideas based on Sakai’s expertise with etiquette.
Using a “flower” to embody everything that makes up a female, the book teaches parents how to instill beautiful behavior and habits into their newborn baby girl, who is just like a blank canvas. The goal is to raise a lady; a female who is dazzling and smart.
4-5 years before the book’s publishing, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations. Put in place to protect the rights of neglected or forgotten children, the idea of respecting children’s rights began to spread throughout the world. In the midst of that, it’s not hard to imagine how this book, containing advice that places the parent in charge of all decisions and how to raise a girl through traditional, strict methods, would have made waves with its release.
That’s wonderful stuff. Thanks 🙂
And I’m glad to see you back.
I’ll contact you in a month or so