AKB48 and their sister groups welcomed 32 members into adulthood during their annual Coming of Age Day Ceremony at Kanda Myojin on January 9, 2017. Matching the numbers of 2016’s event and with SKE48’s ace Jurina Matsui among the young women wearing elegant furisode, not even ice-cold rain could deter the thousands of fans who waited for hours outside just to send their well wishes to their “oshimen” by holding up banners and uchiwa as they passed by.
While the rain was not particularly heavy, as a safety precaution, the photoshoot which usually takes place outside of the shrine was cancelled. As shown in the two pictures above provided by AKS, no other cameras were allowed inside the shrine during the ceremony. Having received the blessings for their new status as adults, the members were met by the cheers of fans as they retreated indoors for the press conference and photoshoot.
After a greeting from Jurina Matsui, the members took turns talking about their goals since becoming adults. Momoka Kinoshita, in her masculine white suit and platforms, a stark contrast to the other 31 members in their more traditional furisode, stated that she wanted to earn more money. Mai Fuchigami spoke about her ambitions of becoming a weather forecaster. Natsumi Matsuoka vowed to become a good woman beloved by all. Haruka Kodama stumbled over her words as she spoke, drawing exclamations of “kawaii” from Jurina and the others, ending with an “OK desu”, when she finished. Unsurprisingly, Jurina was full of enthusiasm and motivation for the year as well as the years to come. Fuuko Yagura hoped for more work and many delicious meals with her family. Nao Furuhata declared that she wanted to become the center of SKE48. Nagisa Shibuya wanted to become a “big existence” in AKB48 and NMB48, even if it meant her having to become physically taller as well. Yuka Tano expressed her thanks at being able to try a lot of different things she liked over the past year and hoped to continue her path. Haruka Futamura looked forward to doing more basketball related work and planned to go on a diet to make up for all the feasting she did over the New Year’s holidays.
Natsuki Kamata felt that she still had a long way to go and set her sights on attaining a new rank in shougi. Anna Ishida talked about looking forward to drinking shouchu. Nana Fujita, winner of the 2015 janken contest, hoped that she would be able to shine again as she did for her solo debut single “Migiashi Evidence”. Ririka Suto looked forward to her mahjong activities making bigger headlines in the future. Hiroka Komada admitted to being bad at handling alcohol so she hoped that Rino Sashihara would be a good senpai to show her the way. Akari Yoshida, who was surprised by her 6th place ranking during the NHK Kouhaku Uta-Gassen senbatsu on New Year’s Eve, was motivated to rise up to the level of Sayaka Yamamoto and keep growing her YouTube channel. Rion Azuma vowed to work hard to become a star worthy of making her native Hokkaido proud, mentioning that she was on a series of posters around the prefecture. Sae Murase anticipated receiving more offers for fashion work as her followers on mobile app WEAR had surpassed 17,000. Naoko Okamoto hoped to take on more challenges, citing her experiences with SHOWROOM in 2016 as an example. Kayoko Takita swore to keep working hard to shine in her 20s and not to lose to her teen former self. Chia-Ling Ma mused about how almost 1 year had passed since she had been promoted to Team B and looked forward to showing off the appeal of Taiwanese women.
Mizuki Uno’s thoughts seemed to be racing through her head faster than she could express them as she kept having to reset her train of thought, finally resolving to improve her public speaking abilities. Mina Imada, looked forward to officially turning 20 in March where she hoped she and Sashihara would be able to do out for a drink. Shion Hori’s youthful energy belied her status as one of the eldest members as she recalled how she lost her passport when NMB48 went overseas and pledged to live more responsibly. Mao Yamamoto looked to improve her communication skills and be able to converse with a lot of different people. Shiori Aoki reaffirmed her commitment to promoting her home prefecture of Shizuoka, wishing to become a regular on a local program. Yuki Muranaka hoped that every year would be as fun as her 20th. Sae Kurihara wanted to show off the charms of the grown-up HKT48. Rin Okabe pledged that she would work to raise the profile of her home prefecture of Ibaraki which was currently ranked 47th out of 47 in terms of appeal, hoping to at least surpass 46th place Tochigi. Rena Fukuchi, who had been a fan of AKB48 before joining, couldn’t believe standing together with the other members on that day at her Coming of Age ceremony. Akari Sato wanted to make more people come to know about Team 8.
Haruka Kodama took a deep breath and looked relieved as the questions finished. When asked about what it was like to turn 20, Jurina Matsui began recalling how she had joined SKE48 when she was 11 years old before being interrupted by one of the reporter’s smartphones ringing. She expressed her excitement about being able to do a toast with fans at an event, explaining that many of them had been doing “air kanpai” with her at handshake events. Haruka shared that she had gone out for drinks Haruna Kojima, Yui Yokoyama, and Rino Sashihara around the time she turned 20 and was saving a bottle of champagne that she received from Sashihara for a special occasion. When pressed for details about what the other members were like when drinking, Haruka giggled before exclaiming that it was a secret with her finger pressed against her lips. Fuuko Yagura couldn’t believe that she would soon be turning 20 after joining NMB48 when she was 14.
When asked about their “fashion points” for the day, Haruka Kodama started by showing off her hairpin that was handmade and featured the flowers of Fukuoka on it. Jurina explained that she chose orange because it is SKE48’s color. Fuuko pointed out that she was the only one with a pale pink furisode. Yuka Tano commented that her grandmother had made the kimono for her mother’s Coming of Age ceremony, adding that she thought that she wore it better. Momoko Kinoshita showed off the railway train conductor uniform which she had gotten at a vintage clothing store, later explaining on Twitter that she did it to show respect for her father who works with trains and had not intended for anyone but her family to see her wearing it.
Chia-Ling Ma explained that people are considered adults when they turn 18 in Taiwan but there was no such ceremony there like there is Japan, admitting that it was her first time to wear a kimono. Akari Yoshida again talked about her surprise ranking at Kouhaku and wondered if it was due to all the young female viewers of her YouTube channel. Jurina, despite ranking 11th in that election, looked forward to the 2017 Senbatsu Sousenkyo, mentioning that Sashihara and Mayu Watanabe had been 20 when they captured the top ranking, concluding that it would be her year to shine. When asked what the current group could be called, she quickly deferred to Kodama who dubbed them the “age of blooming flowers” (hana sakaseyo sedai). Momoka was again asked about her outfit, sharing that her platform shoes were from overseas “because things are funky over there”. Asked again about her YouTube channel, Akari mentioned wanting to collaborate with famous makeup artists, expand the range of contents on it, and pursue more modeling work. Jurina, having already been told directly about Nao’s ambitions, expressed happiness at the appearance of a potential rival but, assured her that it would not be a position given up easily. Nao answered back by vowing to work hard, claiming that nothing easily attained would be worthwhile.
Here are the pictures of the members entering the hall for the press conference and posing with their individual groups.
Photos by Nathan Gey
AKB48: Akari Sato (Team 8), Rena Fukuchi (Team 8), Rin Okabe (Team 8), Yuka Tano (Team K), Shinobu Mogi (Team K), Kayoko Takita (Team A), Chia-Ling Ma (Team B)
SKE48: Natsuki Kamata (Team E), Anna Ishida (Team KII), Nao Furuhata (Team KII), Jurina Matsui (Team S), Haruka Futamura (Team S), Rion Azuma (Team S), Shiori Aoki (Team KII)
NMB48: Yuki Muranaka (Team BII), Momoka Kinoshita (Team M), Akari Yoshida (Team M), Nagisa Shibuya (NMB48 Team M/AKB48 Team 4), Fuuko Yagura (Team BII), Ririka Suto (Team N), Sae Murase (Team BII), Shion Hori (Team N), Mizuki Uno (Team M)
HKT48: Sae Kurihara (Team TII), Hiroka Komada (Team H), Mai Fuchigami (Team KIV), Natsumi Matsuoka (Team H), Haruka Kodama (HKT48 Team H/AKB48 Team K), Mina Imada (Team KIV), Naoko Okamoto (Team H), Mao Yamamoto (Team H)
AKB48 Official site: http://www.akb48.co.jp/
SKE48 Official site: http://www.ske48.co.jp/
NMB48 Official site: http://www.nmb48.com/
HKT48 Official site: http://www.hkt48.jp/
HKT48 SKE48 NMB48 AKB48
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