03 March 2017

Katou Shiho Hustle Press new gravure interview

With Katoshi selling out all 12 handshake lanes assigned to her, management has added six more for the current sales period. It may not be an accident that just now we get a new Hustle Press gravure of her.

I'll just post a few photos -- you can see the rest on the Hustle Press site -- but the interview is so enjoyable I have to translate it. Katoshi is always herself. And it's no wonder that bizarre, friendly, comic self is so attractive to handshake guests. Just as it was to viewers of her Showroom auditions many months ago. Hint: don't take anything she says too seriously.

-- When you hear the expression "sparkles," what comes to your mind?

"Ishimori [Nijika]-san's eyes? That's what came to mind just now. When I first met her, I thought: 'Her eyes really sparkle!' I wonder why they're always sparkling? I want to sparkle, too."

-- But you do sparkle, Shiho-san.

"Ehh! No I don't. I want my eyes to shine. For a while I used to moisten my eyes so they would sparkle. I used a lot of eye-drops (laughs). But I don't do it all the time."

-- Like once an hour?

"Oh no: once every ten minutes (laughs). Even during class I had eye-drops in my desk. I was like: 'Okay, now!' But it didn't work at all. Recently, I've pretty well stopped (laughs)."

-- Do you have memories of times when you sparkled?

"I don't remember it in elementary or middle school. But I loved high school. I got my first job. I put on make-up. I made more friends. I played a lot. I think I was sparkling with youth. I made my own money and went to distant places with my friends. We even went to the big amusement parks."

-- Did you make the friends yourself?

"No. I couldn't do it myself. I was shy. I wanted to make friends, but I could only look from afar. But there were lots of cheerful girls at school, and they came and talked to me, and introduced me to their friends."

-- You went out with your friends after school?

"I did. We went to Harajuku and did all the things high-school girls do. We went to Takeshita Street, drank at Starbucks, talked.... We did that every week. It was real youth. I worked at my part-time job like a demon."

-- What kind of job did you have?

"In a convenience store. Three years straight at the same store."

-- Saying "Irasshaimase"? [note: Employees call out that welcome to every customer who enters the store.]

"Yes. After school, on Saturdays and Sundays. Lots and lots."

-- You were good at dealing with customers?

"No, I wasn't. People got angry with me many times. I'm not good at communicating. I'm shy. So I couldn't say 'I want to quit.' I wasn't brave enough to go and apply at another store. So I kept working at the same store."

-- Why did you do work you weren't suited for?

"It was close to my house (laughs)."

-- What did they get angry with you over?

"My voice being too soft, speaking too slowly, moving slowly. When I was standing around doing nothing: 'Find something that needs doing and do it!' That kind of thing. They got angry with me every day."

-- They wanted you to improve?

"I didn't improve at all (laughs). I got used to it -- but my voice did get a little louder."

-- So you didn't sparkle at work?

"But even while they were getting angry with me, I was proud of myself for working hard (laughs). I needed money for going out to play, and for buying clothes, didn't I? I even paid for my own mobile phone."

-- That was a reason to be proud.

"I went to the beauty parlour, too. I love make-up, and bought my own cosmetics."

-- Savings?

"I can't save. Once I take it out, I spend it all (laughs)."

-- You mentioned going to amusement parks. Do you enjoy those?

"I love theme parks. I want to escape from reality (laughs). I'm terrible at saving money. I've only been to Osaka once. But I love going to Disney."

-- The Screamer?

"I go on it, but I don't like going so fast or being so high. I ride it once and have to rest for hours (laughs)."

-- So in your life so far, when would you say you sparkled?

"When I was a high-school student. Wearing that uniform, I thought I sparkled. I think being a high school student is great. High school girls are overflowing with power."

-- Is that how you felt when you were one?

"Yes. But when I became a college student, everything seemed to decline (laughs). My endurance, my feelings of excitement. I don't want to move when have free time, or to go outside. I just want to stay home (laughs)."

-- You feel as if your strength is low?

"Definitely. I get winded walking up the hill to college (laughs). When I was in high school, I loved to walk. I still love it, but my body.... (laughs)"

-- It's hard even to climb stairs?

"I don't do it any more. If there's an escalator I head straight for it, and stop there with a sigh."

-- When you see high-school girls on the street, how do you feel?

"I get more energetic. When I see high-school girls on the train and so on, I get energy from them. It's a feeling like: 'The short skirts seem cold, but that looks so nice....'"

-- You were a high-school girl like that year ago, weren't you, Shiho-san?

"I was. I didn't feel the cold or anything. I just sparkled."

-- Now that you're a member of Hiragana Keyaki, you sparkle more.

"Ahh... At last year's Kanji Keyaki one-man live, when Hiragana Keyaki got the chance to stand on that stage and dance, that was so much fun! I wonder if maybe I sparkled then."

-- Have you watched the videos?

"I have. I'm really smiling in them. Maybe I sparkled a bit (laughs)."

-- Is there anyone that you yourself feel sparkles?

"The Kanji Keyakis have an amazing sparkling aura! When I first met them, I let out a big sigh. they were as cute as dolls. I was really surprised."

-- Is there anyone in particular?

"It was the person I mentioned before, Ishimori-san. Her sparkling eyes were amazing."

-- Is there any member of Hiragana Keyaki who you feel sparkles?

"Sasaki Mirei-chan is always so cheerful, smiling even during the hard times. Her dancing and singing are great. I think she's the one who sparkles most."

-- You respect Akimoto Manatsu-san of Nogizaka46, don't you, Shiho-san?

"Yes, I do! Akimoto-san has the sparkling feeling of 'The Idol.' When we went to greet them at their handshake event, she knew me and called to me by name! I was so happy. It was like a dream. I went to the washroom and really cried."

-- Do you want to become like Mantsu-san?

"I do!"

-- What type of idol do you want to be? Rather than a cute idol like Manatsu-san, you're more the beautiful type of idol like Shiraishi Mai-san, aren't you?

"No, I'm not beautiful! Really! I do want to become beautiful. That's why I'm trying so hard to make my face thinner. Just making my face a tiny bit thinner would make me happy."

-- Speaking of making you happy, the college library does that, too, doesn't it? You mention it fairly often in your blog....

"I love the library. It's my holy place. I'm always there, quiet and calm. Drinks with lids are okay there, so I just stay there as the evening falls (laughs)."

-- Not studying?

"No. Not studying (laughs). People-watching. But when I'm in a panic to write a report, I do actually study."

-- In any case, although you've said some slightly negative things, you do have a desire to improve, don't you? You've said you want to be the most sparkling member of Hiragana Keyaki, and so on.

"I do! So that people will say: 'I saw Katou Shiho live at a handshake event, and she really sparkled.' Even though I haven't mentioned it, I'm really impatient for that. This year, I will definitely become beautiful. I want to become someone who is both cute and beautiful."

I feel as if everything Katoshi says here is sort of true...and sort of not true. I remember the first time she mentioned having worked in a convenience store: she said she was a speed-demon on the cash register. So she probably did contribute enough to be kept on staff for three years, lol.

To "sparkle" or "glitter" (kirakira) seems almost like a technical term, for being dazzling as an idol or performer.

If you're interested in getting an idea of what Katoshi was like in her Showroom auditions, here's a nine-minute video (in Japanese):

Showroom is a Japanese site that allows performers to broadcast from their own computers. Viewers post questions that the performer can reply to. This has been part of the audition process for both Hiragana and Nogizaka gen3. 

Katoshi probably both did a lot of good for herself with how engaging and natural she was on Showroom. And how sexy, really.

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