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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



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