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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birthday Letter to Shinozaki Ayana from her Mother

From Shinozaki Ayana's Seitansai / Jan 9, 2014
(Read by Murayama Yuiri)

Ayana, happy birthday.

On January 8, 1996 at 8:04 AM, you were born healthy.

The moment immediately after your birth, being told “You have a healthy girl!”—your mother who was busy in childcare of two boys absolutely hoped for her third to be a girl—was really, very happy, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

The Ayana from then is 18 already. Ever since you were little you were able to call out to those around you without fear of strangers; always greeting them with a smile and friendly conversation, a good child.
As a child too friendly with people could’ve ended up disappearing with someone, I remember telling you often “It’s bad to go with people you don’t know!”

Two years ago, it was on a whim when you decided to audition for AKB, and with the tremendous application process I was sure you were not going to pass. Approaching it with a light heart there was surely no way that you would pass. When we learned that you did pass, together we were very happy. We couldn’t believe it. On the other hand, with the matter of compatibility with your academics the worry and anxiety were greater than the joy; I remember it even now.

With the start of your AKB activities, finding this balance had been a challenge far greater than we had expected. Being ready to leave for work and performances with no time to take a break after school, coming home at late hours in the middle of the night, studying in the dressing room and on a moving train, having to practice dance and study even after returning home late at night, it was normal to get only two or three hours of sleep at a time. 
At times you would stay up all night before going to school in the morning. Then, in the gym during morning assembly, *Bata* you would collapse. Your friends thought “Anemia? Oh no!” and supported you in a hurry, and the joke of “Airhead Ayana who sleeps while standing” became your comedy episode.

Your health was my sole concern, Ayana, when returning late from work and performances. So whenever you got back I would try to stay awake with you until you slept, but you would always care about me. “It would be terrible if you collapsed Mom, it’s okay to sleep,” you would say. I truly shed tears because of your kindness.

In the autumn of the year before last, the mental and physical strain of balancing school and AKB reached a breaking point. “I really really don’t know what to do anymore, Mom! Doing school activities and AKB is too much! I want to quit AKB!” you came to me in tears, and the two of us cried together at that time.

“If you quit now you’ll have nothing,” was my advice to you, “but if you can try hard for a little more, while there will be painful times, there may be fun times too. Why not give it some thought once you’ve calmed down?”

But you said, “Mom, you don’t know anything about how I feel! You don’t know how hard it is for me! I shouldn’t have to consult you about it.”

Indeed it is Ayana’s life, not mine to lead, and perhaps would be better for her happiness if she could have her way… I felt very conflicted with such thoughts. There were times when I couldn’t sleep at night. With these feelings an unpleasant time followed where we would fight whenever we talked.

But one day, after a while, you made up your mind, deciding “From now on, while there may be even more hardships, I will try my best to balance school and AKB,” and it may have been that all of your distress and trouble was taken out in that conclusion. From then on, Ayana, something became unbound, and I felt a clear change in your will in approaching both AKB and academics. 

There were still struggles, such as your long-term foot injury during the summer of last year, and the new challenge of entering university. But at the same time, at the Tokyo Dome in the summer there was your promotion along with all of your companions who had been working hard as research students, forming New Team 4. For your mother and father watching you at the moment of your promotion, our tears were overflowing. The scene is burnt into my head still. 

This is a request to you, Ayana, from your mother, to always remember and appreciate the staff, manager, all the fans, and the members who support you. No matter the time, please do not forget their warmth and caring.
You are a hard worker who does not complain even if it is painful. But when it becomes too much and you feel like crying, so that you don’t suffer alone, come talk to mom, alright? I’ll be by your side at any time. And if it’s something that I cannot solve, then you have to talk to the people around you supporting you. You are not alone, Ayana, do not forget that.

And, in the future, always remember to smile. Whether it’s one person or many people, please give without reservation your Ayanan smile in hope of bringing them happiness.

So even if you tell me “Grandma, your wrinkles are terrible”, I will whip my old body, in order to see you to and from your destination, and to make delicious food, I will work hard in the future. Ayana, I always, always love you.

Last but not least, through today’s busy schedule, to everyone who organized Ayana’s birthday festival, to all the staff who graciously went through the trouble, to the manager, the birthday committee and chairman, every one of the fans, and all of the members, thank you very much. We are very thankful for such a wonderful birthday celebration.

Although Ayana is still immature, she works hard with mutual support from the love of family, so thank you very much for your lasting support until and from now.

Thank you very, very much for today.

Ayana’s mother

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Japanese text, transcribed from Live on Demand (source):

「彩奈、お誕生日おめでとう。

平成8年1月8日午前8時4分、彩奈は元気に産声をあげました。

出産直後、元気な女の子ですよと先生に言われた瞬間、男の子2人の育児に追われていたママは、3人目は絶対に女の子が欲しいと願っていたので、とてもとても嬉しかったこと、昨日のように覚えています。

そんな彩奈ももう18歳、小さな頃から人見知りなく近所の人に声かけられると、いつもニコニコ挨拶や話のできる愛想の良い、良い子でした。

愛想が良過ぎて誰にでもつい行っちゃいそうな子だったので、「知らないおじさんの後はついって行っちゃダメよ」ってよく言い聞かせたのを覚えています。

2年前に、ふとしたことがきっかけでAKBのオーディションを受けることになった時、物凄い応募があるのだから合格なんて出来るはずないよね、なんて軽い気持ちで受けたら、まさかまさかの合格。合格と聞いた時、親子でとても嬉しくて、信じられなかった反面、これから学校との両立をどうしようと嬉しさより不安や悩みのほうが大きかったの今でも覚えています。

AKBの活動が始まってからの学業との両立は想像以上に大変なものでした。学校から帰宅するとひと息つく暇もなく準備をして、公演や仕事に出かけ、帰宅が遅い時間には夜中、試験週間には電車移動中や楽屋でも勉強。深夜帰宅してからも勉強したりダンスの練習。睡眠時間2、3時間なんて当たり前。時には徹夜をして登校することもあったりして、学校で朝礼中、体育館でバタッと倒れて、友達が「貧血?大変!」と思い、慌てて支えたら、何と立ったまま寝てたという天然彩奈のおとぼけお笑いエピソードもありましたね。

公演や仕事で帰りが遅い日は彩奈の健康だけが気掛かりで、彩奈が帰宅してから彩奈が寝るまで一緒に起きていると、彩奈は「ママが倒れたら大変だからママは先に寝て大丈夫だよ」といつもママを気遣ってくれて、本当に彩奈の優しさには涙が出ます。

一昨年の秋頃にはAKBと学校との両立に心身共に疲れ果ててコントロールも出来なくなり、「ママいっぱいいっぱいでどうしたらいいかわからない。AKBの活動と学校との両立が大変で辛い。AKB辞めたい。」と泣きながら訴える彩奈に2人で泣いた時もあったね。

ママが「今辞めたら何も残らない。もう少し頑張ったら辛いことばかりでなく、楽しいこともあるかもしれないよ。落ち着いて考えてみたら。」とアドバイスをしたら、彩奈から「ママは私の気持ちなんて何もわかってない。私の大変さなんてママにもわからない。ママになんて相談するんじゃなかった。」って言われて、たしかに彩奈の人生だし、ママが口出しすることではない、彩奈の思い通りにさせてあげたほうが彩奈にとっては幸せかもしれないと、ママはいろんな葛藤があり、夜寝れない時もありました。そんなことがあってから、彩奈と話せばケンカになって、嫌な時間が続いた時期もあったね。

そしてしばらく経ったある日、彩奈は「これからも辛いことの方が多いかもしれないけど、AKBと学校の両立を頑張ってみる」と決心したんだよね。彩奈にとって悩みに悩んで出した結論だったのでしょう。それからは何かひとつ吹っ切れたように、彩奈のAKBと学業の両立に対する捉え方が明らかに変わっていったような気がします。

去年の夏には長期の足の怪我に悩んだり、進学のことで新たな試練もありました。でも、そんな中、夏の東京ドームでの研究生として一緒に頑張ってきた仲間との全員の昇格、新チーム4結成。パパとママはドームで昇格の瞬間、彩奈の姿を見ていてたくさんの涙が溢れました。あの光景は未だに頭に焼きついています。

そんな彩奈にママからお願いがあります。彩奈を支えてくださるスタッフさん、マネージャーさん、ファンの方々、メンバーさんへの感謝の気持ちはいつどんな時も忘れずに人を思いやる優しい気持ちを忘れないでください。

辛くても決して弱音を吐かない頑張り屋さんな彩奈。いっぱいいっぱいになってしまって泣きたくなった時は1人で悩まずママに相談してね。ママはいつでも彩奈の味方だよ。

ママで解決無理な時は彩奈を支えてくださっている周りの人に相談するんだよ。彩奈は1人じゃないってこと、忘れないでね。

そして、これからもどんな時も笑顔を忘れずに、1人でも多くの人に幸せな気持ちになってもらえるようにあやなんスマイルをいっぱいいっぱいに振りまいてください。

ママは彩奈に「ばあちゃん、顔のシワがひどいよ」と言われても老体にムチ打って、これからも彩奈の送り迎え、美味しいご飯を作れるように頑張るからね。彩奈のこと、ずーっと、ずーっと大好きだよ。

最後になってしまいましたが本日はお忙しい中、彩奈の為に生誕祭の開催にあたり、お骨をお折りくださったスタッフ様、マネージャー様、生誕委員長をはじめ生誕委員様、多くのファンの皆様、メンバーの皆様、本当にありがとうございました。素晴らしい生誕祭を開催していただきまして感謝の気持ちでいっぱいです。

まだまだ未熟の彩奈ですが、家族で支え合い頑張っていきますので、これからも末永い応援の程どうぞよろしくお願い致します。

本日は本当にどうもありがとうございました。彩奈の母より」