A curious child, surrounded by the love of her family
I'm somebody who got an olfactory memory, so every time I smell something which is similar to one of the scent of my childhood, many memories come back to my mind. For example, the smell of pickles remind me of the inside of the car of my maternal grandfather (laughs). Until my last year of kindergarden, I lived in Gifu, but after this we built our home in Chiba and moved here. This grandfather accompanied me by car to the various lessons I took at this time. As we were spending a lot of time together, I loved this grandfather.
I was born on April 12, 1994. I was scheduled for the 11, the same day as my mother, but I was born later. But the 12 is also the anniversary of my parents' marriage. I also have a dog born on April 11 (laughs) My brother was born in March, my mother in April, my father in May; our birthdays are really close. °C-ute's members also have their birthdaybefore June so all of these important events are taking place the first half of the year (laughs).
I weighted exactly 4000 grams when I was born so I was a pretty big baby!! Thanks to my mother's delicious dishes, I was able to grow up healthy. But there has been some worries it seems as my father sometimes bumped my head against the ceiling - not on purpose, when he made me sit on his shoulders; and there was a time I almost broke my nose by bumping into the desk' corner. Everyone was worried about whether my face would suffer from it (laughs)
I'm a prankster since I was a child. I heard there was a time I switched on the fire alarm of the whole building. I don't know if that was because I was attracted by switches, but anyway I couldn't stop myself from pushing buttons as soon as I saw one. I took the small chair of the living room to climb up to switch the alarm. I really don't remember this episode at all, but my mother told me that when she found me, I showed her a very large smile.
Also, I think it's the same for all kids but I had this irrepressible desire to cut the hair off my dolls... But I thought I would make my parents angry if I did that, so instead of throwing the cut hair to the trash can, I remember hiding them in the mould of the plant of the room. It seems I was also a kid who loved to hide in the toys or laundry baskets. I think this curiosity is a part of me that hasn't changed since childhood.
I started to sing at 2 years old; I was doing my own show. Listening to "BREAK OUT!" from Aikawa NANASE or Seiko MATSUDA's "Anata ni aitakute Missing You". As a child, we used to go support my father at his golf games and my mother told me I was doing my whole show in front of the golf club's entrance... (laughs) With a small backpack... Well, a big one for me at this time; where I would put some toy microphones. I was picking the microphone's color of the day, and was saying "Hello everyone! I'm Airi Suzuki and I'm going to sing for you today!!". This is why now, it's really embarrassing for me when I see people from this golf club, who know me since I'm a child. "You sang a lot"; "You're such a grown up now". It was really strange when we made a performance with °C-ute at a golf club this year. There weren't many people I knew but this environment was very familiar and made me nostalgic...
The fact my father is a professional golfer always seemed like an evidence to me. We were going out a lot to see him to his games, and he was always busy practicing at home so my mother supported him... It's how my family is. I don't know if it's because of that or thanks to that, but I became a really independant girl.
My brother was born when I was 2 years old, and at this time when I saw my mother busy with him, I thought it must be tough on her. She told me I said to her "You know mummy, I would be happy with just rice and nattou for breakfast!" It's not something much, but she told me it made her very happy and she always remembers it. And I still love nattou rice now (laughs)
Even though since I started this job I am not often at home, I still get along very well with my family. My little brother often covered me when my father got angry at me.
When my father don't have any game to do, he has a day off to rest his body, and we take this opportunity to make family trips. Usually places with thermal baths so my father can rest, and where we others can eat a lot of food (laughs) Unfortunately we don't have these opportunities often, but they still are great memories.
The decision took at 5 years old. The first step to become a singer...
I started to take singing lessons during the last year of kindergarden. I loved SPEED and thought I wanted to enter a music school myself too, thus subscribed to UP-FRONT Muical School's courses. At this time, I had to decide if I wanted to concentrate on singing lessons, or study for primary school's entrance exam and I choose to enter in a music school. My dream of becoming a singer started to become real in my mind at this time. Every year in kindergarden, we were given a book where we had to write what we wanted to do in the future, and I was always writing "singer". Well, there's a time I wrote "cook" but anyway, I always wanted to pursue this path (laughs).
The first time I took singing lessons, I was very scared. First, doing the Chiba-Tokyo road was very scary to me (laughs) There were only older child and as I entered the course in the middle of the year, I was the youngest. At this time, Erika UMEDA was often accompanying me to the lesson and Yoriko. from "Hontohane." was giving me singing classes. The hip-hop teacher told me something I will never forget: "You are somebody who cannot give up on anything, so I'd be such a waste if you somehow don't do your best to make something work". It was very complicated to follow the courses while I was in kindergarden. My grandfather was not only bringing me to the lesson, but he was also watching me rehearse at home. In primary school, I made sure I sang every single morning before going to school, and my grandfather watched me do so. He wasn't singing at all, but the advices he gave to me were actually true. I wonder if he was a genius... Talking about my maternal grandfather, I loved his hayashi rice. I wish I asked him for the recipe for me to cook the same but unfortunately, he passed away before I could do so... I couldn't go to his funerals because of work so I wrote him a letter saying "Please teach me the recipe when we will meet again, alright?" and somebody read it during his funerals... It was the year we were nominated at Nihon Record Taishou and I also wrote him to watch the how on "Paradise's TV"; this part was also read... Even though it was his funeral I wrote "It'd be on that channel, on this day, from this hour". I hope he was happy.
The entrance in the so-admired "Hello! Project"!
I left the musical school in March of my last year of kindergarden. During the graduation, I was chosen with Erika UMEDA and another girl to be a part of a unit. We were named "Petit Mousse" (laughs). We appeared in backstage of the group "EE JUMP" in shows such as "Music Station" and "HEY!HEY!HEY!". I still have the footages. We are the only small child in the middle of adults and I didn't even have front teeth yet (laughs) So my first TV appearance was actually at that time!
And also, I met Yuuko NAKAZAWA before entering Hello! Project. I was able to take a picture with her when she appeared at a golf event. I loved Morning Musume. at the time, and I even went to see their live and musical. During their live, a fan even gave me a penlight so I could support them! I really looked like Anpanman at this time so I don't think he ever made the link to the actual Airi Suzuki, but oh well (laughs) I heard there was an audition "Hello! Project KIDS" thanks to the phamplet they gave out at Morning Musume.'s concert. I entered the audition during my first year of primary school and passed it. I was very happy because I thought I would finally be able to sing songs, but I couldn't really show how happy I was because I never was the "positive" type. I loved to sing so much, and sucked at dance but yet I still said "I think I won't lose to anyone concerning dancing"... I still regret it (laughs) I wonder if I said this because I would've hated to be told "It's not true" if I would've said "I won't lose to anyone concerning singing capacities.". I was really childish. But from this time, I hate to lose.
When I met the other winners, I though to myself, surprised "There are such cute girls in big cities!". I was pretty fat and not very popular at this time. Even when you're young you think about popularity and stuff. The fact I was picked for "Minimoni. The Movie Okashina Daibouken" and not "Koinu Dan no Monogatari" made me think "Maybe they're thinking I won't belong to performances on stage"... (laughs) But now that I think of it, "MiniMoni. ..." was a great choice. There were a lot of songs in the movie and I could sing a bit, so I'm happy.
What was the most bitter to me was when I didn't pass "ZYX."'s audition. Just after, the members who didn't pass this audition were put in a new unit called "Aa!" and if you check out Hello! Project's book from this time, I wrote "My most bitter memory is to have failed ZYX's audition ; My happiest memory is to have entered Aa!". Yes, I really hate to lose (laughs)
Aa! was very big to me. I had to sing in fake voice and was complimented on it, and there are a lot of people who became fans of me thanks to this unit. "Tsunku-san, thank you for letting me sing 'FIRST KISS'" is something I really think now. This song was the first step to show my capacities, to introduce that Airi Suzuki is a child who loves to sing, and would love to sing even more.
There was that, but also a lot of things when Berryz Koubou's debut was announced. To be honest, as Aa! ended with only one song, I thought Aa! was created for Miyabi NATSUYAKI to debut as Berryz Koubou after... It was really a tough time for me. But thanks to that, it also made us learn, others, the positive thinking we have now, showed us that we also have to do our best. Also, at the time they debuted, it was announced it would be a rotating group, and it was a very confusing feeling, as I thought "I don't want to enter after everyone else"! Even now, I cannot forget Berryz Koubou's first performance during Hello! Project's tour. They had their own outfits, their own song, and were all shining. I thought I would never want to lose, and started to learn their first songs by heart. Of course, that was also because I loved them too.
The musical job I was allowed to do during my 4th year of primary school also had a big impact on me. I was choosen as "Susan Walker" for the musical "34 Choume no Kiseki - Here's love-", and I worked very hard for this role. It was my first job outside the office and it was difficult. I remember the songs even now. There was a scene where I had to kiss the cheek of the main character. It was my first kiss (laughs) During these 10 years, there was only one time I had to take a rest because I caught a cold, and that was during this musical... It's frustrating when I think of it... But I wonder if it's from this time my body condition changed? I think I began to lose weight from this period. Anpanman went far away. I should be thankful to this cold I got (laughs)
My primary school period in a severe environment
Primary school was very fun to me. I wasn't going to a private school but their education was pretty strict. We had to salute our teachers the proper way, and when we finished taking notes we had to put our hands on our knees and straight up our back. I had the same main teacher from my 2nd year to my 4th, and she was very severe. Even though she was a woman she used expression such as "clear up one's name" or "redeem oneself" (laughs) She was strict but very sensible, like a mum, and supported my job the whole time. When Aa!'s debut was announced and I appeared on the newspaper, that teacher was the most glad of the news. I remember she brought this newspaper to me.
There were only two classrooms in my school so I usually ended up with the same classmates, and got along with everyone, boys or girls. Their homes were close to mine so I rode my bike to put some New Year's cards in their letter boxes. Actually, I'm still doing it now (laughs)
My little brother was also in the same primary school, and I'm the one who filmed his graduation. I took the camera to the family-reserved seats. When he was in his 5th year, I went to his Culture Festival. Of course I have great memories of when I was a primary schooler myself, but my little brother's one really moved me. When I read the blackboard where they exposed their souvenirs, the others wrote about their club activities, their experiments, but my little brother's one was titled "Big Sister" and he wrote about me. That's not a thing a primary schooler would do usually, isn't it? But he wrote "I'm very proud of my big sister" and it made me very happy.
I'm very grateful to my little brother. He was at an age you'd want to be spoiled by your mother, but mine was very busy supporting my job. Even though, he never acted selfishly, and was always patient. He's 185cm now but still a very great guy, and we're still getting along very well. But if I say that too much, he's being told by his classmates he has a "sister complex" so lately I'm not talking about my brother in my blog and such.
Secondary school period along with my comrades
°C-ute's debut was announced at the same time I graduated from primary school. I remember I hated going to school with that Showa-style hairstyle I had to get for the covers of our first album (laughs) We also got to sing "Massara Blue Jeans" during Morning Musume.'s live in Saitama Super Arena, and it made me super nervous. Tsunku-san checked our dance in the backstage and told us to change the position for the "Dotabata" part in the chorus just before the start of the show.
Berryz Koubou got to debut directly, but °C-ute had to start with an indies period and I wondered why. But now, I'm thankful °C-ute debuted that way. We are very proud we did our best since our indies day, and I believe it is what made us the group we are today.
Our "real" events started in 2006 so we are counting from that moment, but in reality our first "°C-ute no Hi" event was held in a shopping mall. We did not have any promotion and it was raining, so there were only 2 people! It was a real shock, but doing such event in a mall where everybody could listen was a real chance, and even now I'd like to do such events where we distribute our CDs to people. We are aiming to perform in Tokyo Dome, but °C-ute also loves places where we get to be closer to our fans. Us 5 have a lot of things we'd like to treasure.
When our major debut was announced, I was about to enter secondary school so I was very surprised. I thought "What should I do!?". It was very different from the strict education I received at kindergarden. It was very noisy, I thought "Is that a zoo?" (laughs) All of the girls in my class were a part of the softballclub and were already pretty close...
The reason I picked that school is that Maimi YAJIMA and Saki SHIMIZU went to the highschool of the same etablishment. But as I didn't have any friend in that school, it was very scary to me and that's why I as confused as to what should I do.
But these girls from the softball club, while knowing I was °C-ute's Airi Suzuki and supporting me, didn't make any difference and treated me like an usual student. From then, we became very close friends. When I had some problem with something from school, they always told me "Come to see us!", and I naturally became like the softball club's manager.
Because of my job I couldn't go to even one game to support them, but I made and gave them amulettes for their last big game. When I heard they held those on the net of the terrain, I understood the importance of friendship.
I had my job. They had their games. I couldn't go out with them often, but during the night of our graduation, we all came together at one of the girl's house and I experienced my first "stay at home" party. We all went to the restaurant and in my life up until now, it's the first time I was able to forget all my problems.
Succeeding school and work ～ The stimulus I received
During my second year of highschool, I was able to go to the annual schooltrip! I couldn't go when I was in secondary school, I had to stay 6 hours in the techonology class. It was so frustrating I didn't even cry (laughs) But I tried to think positively, as all my friends brought me souvenirs and I could study for the approaching exams.
But concerning °C-ute's activities, my highschool period was not a time I was able to think positively about them. We are now very stable and even though we want to do solo activities here and there, we are also thinking and going on the same direction as °C-ute. But at the time we just became 5 members, I was told many things... My most bitter time was when "SHOCK!" released. I was told that because of me, the 5 members °C-ute couldn't shine. It didn't make me want to stop but it made me worry about so many things. We weren't able to see any direction for the group...
There have also been various changes in our live performances, because until now I don't think we were doing lives we could be confident about. But from °C-ute's "Chô Uranight!!" tour in 2010, we started to finally see a direction °C-ute could go forward. There were times at this period where I just left my feelings at school and used (school) as an escape. But when I decided to not run away anymore, that's when I started to move forward. Lives are very important to °C-ute and this "Chô Uranight!!" tour where we first were able to say "We're singing and dancing, please come to our show!" with confidence was a very big turning point for us. We also worked very hard for our choreographies to be as harmonized as possible, to the point everyone once said "I feel I'm dying" (laughs) That's when we started to understand the great feeling of exceeding expectations and the fun feeling of dancing. Every now and then when I'm watching that live's DVD, I remember that feeling.
At this time Buono! was selling more and even appeared in magazines. Buono! was a big thing for me as it helped me grow up a lot, and it also reminded me to enjoy singing. But that's because °C-ute is here that I can do my best on so many levels. At the moment I thought I should try to do even better at singing, I was offered many jobs in movies. Thanks to these many experiences, I understood that singing was somehow also a type of acting. Until then singing was just a performance to me, but when I tried to become a character of the song, my feelings concerning singing and the songs started to change. It had a really big impact on me. Also, appearing on commercials also had a big influence. I think it was the first time since our appearance at Japan's Music Awards that I've received so many text messages from my friends (laughs) It was also a very different experience of what I did until now, but it was a very fruitful one and helped me build confidence. I was very happy to have been given that chance and it was a period where a lot of possibilities were offered to me.
There were a lot of obsacles, but my highschool period was also a time with a lot of happy things. It was difficult to do both, and I believe that because of me there were many time where °C-ute couldn't be a part of a lot of morning jobs. In that sense, I was really saved by the members, and I'm so grateful to them. I'm happy with these 5 people... They often tell me "I've never really went out with Airi" but from now on I hope we'll go to a lot of places together.
Graduation from highschool ~ Always moving forward
Now, I'm doing my best in the road I chose. But the thing I'm sure of is that I still want music to be involved in my future. I want to write and compose songs, I want to draw because I love to express myself, and acting is fun so I'd be great to continue that, too. My very first goal is to be able to live a life fully thanks to myself. I believe that when you start to not care about something, it shows on your body and your face. I was also the type to think "It's gonna be alright somehow" during exams, but as for make-up or clothes and even food, everything depends only on yourself and your beliefs. Everything depends on your own efforts. There are many people telling me "You were born cute so it's simple" but that's not true. I was really awful in the past and I'm now still full of complexes.
My mother is also the type of person who's doing efforts to move forward and I think she had a big influence on me. My father and my mother are the persons I look up the most to in this world and I'm also admiring the family they succeed to build for their children. In the future, I also want to make a family as great as this one. Because of that I think I won't be able to continue my job? But oh well, I don't even know when I'm going to marry so (laughs) It's still far, faaar away.
Looking back like this, I realize I am supported by so many people. My family, Tsunku-san, the members, the staff. People that changed over the years, the fans... People who were fans before, there are all a part of "team °C-ute", that's what we call them. So when we say "team °C-ute", a lot of memories are overflowing in our minds. I think it is the return of the feeling when you all think "I'm glad I support °C-ute". I wonder if we will be able to give it back someday... It depends of our own efforts.
So I decided that from now on I will continue to move forward, grow up and sing.