On June 22, 2016, Hakata, Fukuoka’s first idol group, HR, released their third major single, “Mattoyo!” The single’s title track is an upbeat number, centering on the themes of Hakata, summer, and festivals, and is packed with Hakata city charm.

Contributor Wanted!!

HR, which stands for Hakata Reboot, was formed in 2010 in order to give the city a reboot and liven it up more. The group has a vigorously active schedule, that includes giving regular weekend performances at their local Hakata theater along with other activities. Today we’re sitting down to hear what group members Rei Yasuda, Nana Hashimoto, and Kanade Ogawa have to say.

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– To get things started, please introduce yourselves.

Kanade Ogawa (Kanade): I’m Kanade Ogawa, or Kana-nyan. It’s nice to meet you! I love sushi and animals.

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Rei Yasuda (Rei): Rei Yasuda here. I love to eat and sleep! Thanks for having us.

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Nana Hashimoto (Nana): I’m Nana, the group captain. Um… Right now I’m really into carbonated drinks!

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– About how often do you visit Tokyo?

Rei: When we’re doing release events, about three times a month.

– Do you feel like there are any differences between Tokyo and Fukuoka?

Rei: I thought Fukuoka was hotter (than Tokyo), but it’s super hot in Tokyo today! So I was surprised to find that Tokyo is actually hotter. (laugh)

Nana: Same here. When we were in Fukuoka it was still morning, but I was shocked at how hot it was here in the afternoon. I checked the weather forecast and all, but it’s hotter than I’d expected it to be. (laugh)

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– Sorry to suddenly change the topic, but could you tell us about your third single, “Mattou yo!”? I had a chance to see the MV.

Everyone: Oh, thank you!

– All of you did a great job showcasing the appeal of Japan’s Hakata City in Fukuoka, but could you tell us about any parts of the video that you’d especially like your fans to look out for?

Kanade: We shot the whole MV in Fukuoka. Carrying the mikoshi (portable shrine), we ran with it all though the shopping center. (laugh)

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Rei: A lot of older folks called out to us as we were running, saying things like, “Keep going!”

Kanade: All of the locals were so nice. (laugh)

Rei: The lyrics mention a lot of famous places and things in Hakata, and so we centered the MV around that, going to stalls and shooting there, or shooting in front of Ohori Park, and it’s cool that you can see all the famous spots around Fukuoka in it. Also, when we were at the stalls, we tried to make it like we were introducing them to everyone watching, so please watch for those parts.

Nana: We’d all gather around at each place, and the camera would be shooting us from above, so we tried to make expressions like there was too much sun in our eyes, and I think from an objective point of view it came out really cute. (laugh) Also another point is during the parts where it shows each of us singing, I think we were able to show off places that are synonymous with Fukuoka in a cute way, like Fukuoka Tower or Dome.

– Do you have any places in Fukuoka you’re fond of in particular? Even if they’re not featured in the song, do tell!

Rei: I really like Daizifu Tenmangu Shrine, and sometimes I’ll even visit it twice a week. (laugh) We have this dessert called umegae mochi (a kind of local rice cake, literally “plum branch rice cakes”), which is super good. It’s not really chewy like regular rice cakes, so I’m not really sure if it’s actually a rice cake… but it’s got red bean filling. There are tons of shops along the pathway leading up to the shrine, and about ten of them specialize in umegae mochi.

– Do they have plums in them?

Rei: Nope (laugh). They have a plum flower mark on the top, though. They just taste like red bean paste and dough. (laugh) But they taste wonderful when they’re hot off the grill.

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Nana: I’d have to say the Fukuoka Tower. Actually it’s got highest tower with an observation deck after Sky Tree and Tokyo Tower! …Or at least that’s what the elevator woman told me when I visited there before. (laugh) You can see all of Fukuoka from it, even Fukuoka Dome, Tenmangu Shrine, and Hakata Station. It’s close to the airport, and you can also see the ocean. Couples will often make hearts and take pictures there. I recommend it when it’s lit up. You should go at night!

Kanade: I recommend some of the famous shopping centers at Tenmangu Shrine, Hakata Station, and so on. Fukuoka people tend to flock there when they go shopping, and it can get really crowded. (laugh)

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– Which shopping center do you like to go to?

Kanade: Recently I like the Kitte Hakata next to Hakata Station… Um, it used to be the Marui building. (laugh)

– The Marui building, huh. (laugh) (Note: There’s also Marui in Tokyo.)

Kanade: They have a lot of places you can eat on the first floor, and on the sixth floor there’s HMV&BOOKS HAKATA, who have been very kind to us, so please visit it!

– By the way, there are quite a few examples of the Hakata dialect that shows up in the video, but do you have any favorites? Besides the single title, “Mattoyo!” or the poplar one “Sukitoyo!” (laugh)

Nana: Like “Nan shoto?” (“What’s up?”)

Rei: Or like “Tottoto?”

– “Tottoto?” What does that mean? (laugh)

Rei: It can mean like, “Are you taking it?” (Like a photo, etc.)…

Nana: Or like, “Koko no seki tottoto?” (“Did you get (literally, take) us some seats?”)

Rei: There’s always this popular tongue-twister, although I’m not really good at saying it. (laugh)
Ottotto tottotte ittotta no ni nande tottotte tte kurenkatta totte yutto-to!
( You said, “Why didn’t you take the Ottotto (a kind of snack) when I asked you to take it?”)

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Rei: It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people (laugh) , but it’s a popular one. It’s a Hakata dialect tongue-twister. (laugh)

– It sounds like a foreign language to me! (laugh) Since Tokyo Girls’ Update is media site aimed at an overseas audience, what foods would you want people from abroad try if they were visiting Hakata?

Rei: Motsunabe! Mizutaki! (Hot pot dishes) Tonkotsu ramen! (Ramen in pork-bone broth)

Manager: Those are already in the lyrics of the song. (laugh)

Kanade: That’s right! (laugh) They are.

– Speaking of which, people in Hakata eat mentaiko (cod roe) without cutting it, don’t they?

Rei: H-huh? People cut it?! With what? Chopsticks?!

– We’ve really hit on something important! (laugh)

Rei: We like it with the membrane surrounding it in tact, so we’ll pick it up all bumpy like that with our chopsticks, and put it on rice or something like that. That’s the only way we eat it.

Nana: They sell it like that at the supermarket.

Rei: They come with about two in the tray, and we just eat them like that. It bursts in our mouth and then we chew up the eggs.

– Is there a certain way you prefer to eat it? Lke with white rice?

Everyone: Yeah, that’s the best way.

Rei: Cod roe toast is good, too! You put cod roe and mayonnaise or cheese on it, and then grill it!

– Sorry to change the subject, but do you feel like there’s a difference between your Fukuoka fans and your Tokyo fans?

Rei, Nana: Um, like… the body headbanging (oritatami)? During the cooler melodies, it can kind of feel like a rock concert at times, because people in the audience will be bending/leaning their bodies forward (as if they were bowing, kind of) and it surprised us. Also, Fukuoka fans don’t really do this, but in Tokyo they’ll put their arms around each other’s shoulders. I guess maybe (our Tokyo fans) get into the music more?

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– Maybe they’re just used to it? But I’m not sure what you mean by the “body headbanging” (oritatami) part; I’ve never heard this term before. (laugh)

Manager: It’s a visual kei (Japanese glam rock) music term. Something that bangya (band girls) Like in front of the barrier they’ll go like this… (demonstrates) It’s a visual kei term.

– But you guys aren’t a visual kei group! (laugh)

Everyone: Of course not! lololol

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Rei: Just we have one cool-sounding song, and during the interlude they (Tokyo fans) will do the body headbanging thing.

Nana: Maybe Fukuoka people are just shy?

Rei: Maybe so. Although Kyushu guys have no reason to be! (laugh)

– Speaking of which, before you did a concert in Taiwan. Was it your first time abroad?

Rei: There was a Fukuoka City PR event in Taiwan, so they let us attend it, but this was our first time meeting idol fans there. On the first day some of them liked us after they got to know us, and the following day they got some for us! We were thrilled!

– I bet you were!

Kanade: At the Taiwan concert, there were people who didn’t know the calls, so they learned from us and started doing it freely. It was a blast when everyone got into it with us.

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Rei: Taiwan was really fun. There was a lot of great food, the people were friendly, and they really tried to use Japanese with us. I’d like to go back again.

– Do you have any future goals or anything in particular you want to try out?

Nana: In Fukuoka there’s a venue called the Level Five Stadium where they hold soccer matches, so our goal is to do an outdoor concert there one day. We have a lot of energetic songs, so if we could get people outside pumped up like usual, I think it’d be a blast!

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Rei: I have a lot, but… I love food, so I want to report on different foods, and while I’m still barely in my teens (laugh), I want to appear in a high school-themed drama! I want to try acting out. Also I love clothes, so I’d like to try modeling. I have a lot of things I want to persue. (laugh) While I’m doing HR, of course!

Nana: We often go to the Kanto or Kansai regions when we travel outside of Fukuoka, but I’d like to visit Tohoku area, and also places not just in Japan, but abroad,too.

– Finally, please give a message to your overseas fans!

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Nana: Soon we’ll have the MV for “Mattoyo!” up, and you can see a lot of Japanese culture in it, like the mikoshi (portable shrine), and as a group we’ve each got a lot of personality, so I really hope you’ll come to Japan!

Rei: Fukuoka really is an amazing place with a lot of famous sightseeing spots, so if you make the trip down to Fukuoka, we’d be really glad if you came and saw us. So far we’ve only been to Taiwan, but we’d like to hit a ton of places all over the world, so we’ll keep doing our best!

Nana: Fukuoka is a really easy place to live in, There are many people from overseas who come to sightsee here, and there are a lot of historical places, so definitely come visit, see them all, and come see us, too! We’ll be waiting!

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The Type A single jacket is a special edition Yamakasa pop-out version, that includes a polaroid pocket and a premium bundle of famous Hakata sights and things. (Kushida Shrine, Dazaifu, Fukuoka Tower,  Dome, lawn, Level Five Stadium, and Kokura Castle) For those that bought the CD HR wants you to enjoy and not let it just sit there and collect dust, which is why the group put so much effort into the production. You can see the members talk about how to get the most out of it here, so please check it out!

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Contributor Wanted!!

Related links
HR official site : http://columbia.jp/HR/
HR Twitter : https://twitter.com/hrkoho

Author
Ayaya
Ayaya

Been working in girls’ fashion magazines for a long time and am now the chief editor of Tokyo Girls’ Update. I have more expertise in Japanese teen fashion than anyone else (probably)! I’m a huge fan of the Revolutionary Girl Utena and Bakemonogatari animes.

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