10000 characters long interview
-My uncovered age, my Jrs time-
⊙ When you were little what kind of kid were you?
A lonesome kid, I suppose.
⊙ What do you mean?
My dad was very strict. I was an only child but to build up my sense of independence he left me sleeping alone since I was in kindergarten, I really hated it and I couldn't sleep at all. Nevertheless when I tried to go to my parents' room he sent me away: "Go out!". Anyway my dad snores a lot, so when I heard he was sleeping I used to secretly slip into my mom's futon (lol).
⊙ What is your oldest memory?
I think it's being bullied. When I was in kindergarten there was this kid who was like a real-life Gian*. He was huge and teethless, he beat me.
⊙ This went on also during elementary school?
When I entered elementary school we moved from Hiroshima to Osaka. Anyway I still had a trauma because of the bullying so I started to take lessons of Shorinji Kempo*. When I was a kid I thought that somehow if I didn't put up a bluff I would have been bullied again.
[*A fighting sport based on shaolin kungfu]
⊙ So the Shorinji changed something?
Yes. The bullying stopped. Thinking about it now anyway it was only a bluff, my spirit was still weak. Moreover, maybe because I was an only child and both my parents worked, I've never been good at relating to other people. I was a weird kid.
⊙ A weird kid?
During my 2nd year of elementary school I was ignored by all my classmates. Once I secretly asked to one of them why and he answered: "Because you do nothing but things to be hated". I knew I had a sharp tongue, but it was all a bluff. I was scared of being hated but at the same time I was even more scared to look weak. I didn't realized that avoiding to be bullied again I became a bully myself. It was a huge shock for me.
⊙ Something like that happened...
I really regret it. I was really bad at communicating with people. I never showed my real feelings. No matter what happened, I gave no reactions at the very moment, I realized things only when I was alone, like: "Eh? That made me so angry!". I didn't even know how to fight, I always imagined the fight in my mind going back home alone. Do you know the movie "Taxi Driver"? It was like when Robert De Niro is in front of the mirror and fights with himself saying: "You talkin' to me?!". I thought too much. I was so awkward.
[Sorry, it's pretty tragic and I feel him, I really do...but connecting De Niro's scene on a elementary school child is hilarious XDD]
⊙ After that you moved one more time, right?
Yes, during my 4th year. We moved to Yokohama. When I introduced myself as a transfer student I said: "I'm Kato Shigeaki. Please, call me Shige-chan". Calling one's own self "Shige-chan" is pretty weird, isn't it? But Kato was too short and I didn't like to be called only by my last name. I was such an annoying kid (lol).
⊙ Indeed! (lol).
I piled up so many failures, I could make friends properly only during my 5-6th year of elementary school. I wanted to be the center of the class and distinguish myself somehow.
⊙ I see.
Back then I wanted to be considered cool more than I do now (lol). I started to be interested in fashion during the first year of middle school. Thinking about it now I was pretty lame though. I was really concerned about how people saw me and how to show myself. I dressed up to show myself the better I could. But on the inside I started to feel my true colors revealing. I was blanching (lol). It was because of my bad relationships in the past, but on the same time I didn't want to isolate myself again. I think I was really lonely.
⊙ You applied for the JE during the 4th year of elementary school?
Exactly. My mom searched for me the address of the company. She told me: "Let's try sending an application!".
⊙ Did you have interest in this world?
I liked SMAP. Takizawa-kun was very popular too, the idols looked really cool. I loved to plan my future a lot. I remember that when I was in elementary school I used to say: "When I'll be big I want to work in the showbiz the most". For showbiz I meant an actor, somebody who could do anything, variety shows, many different experiences. I knew that I was an indecisive person so I thought that probably I'd get tired with a single job.
⊙ So you applied all excited...
Mmm...it was a "I want to do it at any cost!", it was mostly a "It'd be nice to enter...". My mom liked SMAP too, my mom's friends liked Domoto Koichi-kun and Matsumoto Jun-kun. I wanted to enter in order to meet them. That's why I had a big support (lol).
⊙ You passed the first examination and then the audition too...
Yes but I didn't receive a reply for around 1 year and half after the application.
⊙ It was a pretty long time!
Now that I think about it, the picture I enclosed with the CV was awfully lame (lol). That morning my mom woke me up roughly and took that picture suddenly, I dressed up and set my hair in a rush. I could be so much better. That's why they didn't call me for more that 1 year! (lol).
Moreover when I told my friends that I sent the application they cooled me down a lot saying things like: "Do you really think you can enter the Johnny's?!"
⊙ You weren't popular between your classmates?
Not at all. I wasn't popular. Maybe because I was so slow in sports (lol).
⊙ When you received the notice after 1 year and half were you surprised?
I forgot about it. I was like: "Eh?! Are you for real?!".
⊙ How was the audition?
It was in Shibuya's studios, when I went out of the train I was like a tourist: "So this is Shibuya!". I couldn't dance, I couldn't do anything at all. There was a part where you had to introduce your special ability, there were so many kids who could do back-flips or play baseball, I had no appeal. We were 50 guys to take the audition, me and another guy were called at last, I was like: "Eh?!". I didn't have even the time to rejoice, I was too surprised and lost.
⊙ And so you became a Junior...
I can say this now, before the audition my mom made me read the magazines and thanks to that I knew that the guys who change their behaviour when talking to the boss used to fail (lol).
⊙ You stocked up informations! (lol)
Yes. When the boss came and greeted me I thought: "It's him!" and I was really nervous. Anyway I did my best to not show any change in my attitude (lol). Thinking about it now probably it wasn't a question of passing the audition or not, it was only that guys who turn into flatterers in front of the boss aren't appreciated.
⊙ How things turned after you became a Junior?
After 1 month I was sent to Okinawa to work and after 3 months to Hawaii. After just half a year they let me hold a microphone.
⊙ It was an amazing career!
It was an élite career! (lol). Anyway I knew that there were so many things that I still couldn't do. That's why I was always very nervous, my heart beat like crazy all the times. I always watched the shows in which I appeared and think about them coldly. The things I couldn't do. I sucked in anything. Nothing, I couldn't dance nor sing. But anyway my position between the Jrs kept improving, I got more and more jobs. I was good friend with the guys of my age, but of course between the senpai there was somebody who said I was impertinent.
⊙ Anyway you were better in the relationship with other people, right?
Right. I just wasn't cute as a kouhai (lol). When I arrived in the same position of my senpais I loved my kouhai Ya-Ya-Yah and Hey!Say!Jump a lot. When I was a junior I wasn't innocent and I was also tall. When I was in the 6th year of elementary school people often mistook me for a 2-3rd year middle schooler (lol). There were guys of my age who were treated so nicely, I was so jealous. I loved and respected my senpais but I didn't show that with my attitude. I wanted to be treated nicely too, I was so sad.
[Awww poor kid ><]
⊙ After that you had to take a break at work to take the entrance exam at school, right?
I thought about it a lot, I was still a kid, I thought that maybe it was ok if I took a break. I didn't think about a possible debut. The pile of work was increasing but I couldn't know for how long it would have gone on like that. I thought that if I wanted to do this job after the exam I could still do it. Moreover I went to cram school since the 1st year of elementary school for that exam, I didn't want to give it up, I wanted to enter a university too. That time there was Sakurai Sho-kun who was attending a university, before the exam I was introduced to him. Sho-kun was like: "Aah, hello!" (lol).
⊙ Then you passed the exam and went back to work...
I directly called the boss. I told him: "I passed the exam! I want to work again!". Right now I would never be able to something like that (lol). He replied: "There are the rehearsals, come". At the rehearsals the boss saw me and said: "Good, you didn't change" and suddenly he gave me a role in a drama.
⊙ After that you played in "Sannen B gumi Kinpachi Sensei" too.
I was so happy. Before the audition the work was going so well so everybody told me: "I think you'll pass". Anyway I tried to not be too sure about it, to avoid a big disappointment if I failed. If I was too certain and failed I would have been too depressed.
⊙ How was to work in Kinpachi?
It really had a strong influence. When I went around people recognized me. Even now people say to me: "You were in Kinpachi!". Anyway what I could feel the most was that I wasn't able to act. I think it was during a class of domestic chores, a friend told me: "About your acting...I think I'd be better than you". I know it was a joke but since I already felt that I wasn't good it pushed me down a lot. Mine was an élite career but I felt that I couldn't keep up with work at all. I thought that I would never be enough.
⊙ You had this conflict in you...
Yes. But on the stage, on the stage I had so much fun. I was weirdly convinced that even if it takes years one day I'd have been good at acting, singing and dancing. The reason why I wasn't good while my senior were was only because they were doing that for more time. The time would have set everything.
⊙ But you were wrong?
I was totally wrong. It's not that I was convinced, I was just escaping from reality and wishing it was like that. I realized it just before the debut. It wasn't because of the age, I was deceiving myself.
⊙ What did you think about the debut?
I wanted it! It was my objective. Even if in reality it was just the start. Many groups debuted in the occasion of the volleyball tournment, before it the Jrs were all nervous thinking who will be the next.
⊙ When NEWS were selected you were 16 years old.
Yes. Of course I wanted to be chosen, me and Koyama always talked: "Maybe it's our turn". We were in shows like Shounen Club since more time than the other Jrs, we were also allowed to keep the microphone. I did the back-dancer for Kinki Kids. I knew somehow what was my position.
⊙ How did it feel to be chosen for real?
I was happy of course. Anyway I felt like I hadn't enough merit. I thought things like: "If Toma-kun didn't enter, it's sure that I'll be ok?". Anyway I wanted to do my best from then on. I thought that now that I could debut I finally had a future.
⊙ What a change of attitude, that will of doing your best.
Just before the debut the dance teacher clearly told me: "You behave like a spoiled child. But your skills aren't catching up". I answered: "I'll stay here and I'll exercise by myself!". While I was dancing alone I saw in the mirror Yamashita-kun and the others who changed their clothes and were going home. It wasn't a matter of time. I overwhelmingly realized that all depended on me, if I worked hard or not. I cried alone going back home.
⊙ So while you debutted you also felt frustrated.
Yes but debutting made me so happy that it kinda blew away the uneasiness. I saw my future brightly. But what sparkled wasn't my future but the other members.
⊙ What do you mean?
Everybody had their own character, they were extremely charming. Tegoshi had little experience and couldn't really dance but he sang greatly. Everybody had their own color.
⊙ And you couldn't see your own value.
Exactly. Moreover on the first union of NEWS we were often told that we were "too many, it was difficult to distinguish everybody's character". And I thought that if they were going to cut somebody out that would have been me. I was dragging my legs. Maybe I was doing a crime. I thought that probably if I went away NEWS could finally go higher.
⊙ You really thought something like that?
It was a lump of complexes. I could do anything but thinking: "It's right for me to be in NEWS?". I thought to resign from the group. Leaving NEWS would have meant to give up on the whole world of show business though.
⊙ But anyway you didn't do it.
At first I decided to hang on. But...when we were supporting the volley team the manager divided us, in the schedule there was a partecipation in a morning show. Waking up very early for the show was really hard. I thought that I could take the initiative since everybody was already in a difficult situation, but when I told to the manager: "I'll do it", he answered: "There's no need (lol)". It was a joke. I laughed too but I felt so hurted inside. I wasn't useful even for something that was a bother to everybody. I knew I couldn't be chosen anymore and I had no responsibilities, I couldn't help but thinking everytime: "They don't need me at all?". I looked to the other members all cheerful during the rehearsals and sometimes I couldn't stop my tears.
[Every time he talks about these years...gosh it's so painful ><]
⊙ Did you ever talked about your worries with the others?
I couldn't talk to anyone. It was my own problem. If I did I would have revealed the bluff that I always protected.
⊙ How did you do from then on?
I think this will sound like I'm making it simple, I really don't want to say it but...the fans had a big role in this. Back then I read and read the fanletters. Every single fanletter was written in a pretty calligraphy, on a cute paper purposely bought for me. They also put on cute stickers. They told me things like: "I read that book because Kato-kun said he liked it". I realized once again how amazing is all this. I never wrote a letter full of feelings like those ones. Those kind of thoughts are impressive. I was saved by those thoughts. They made me think: "If I give up there will be sad people". Probably even now I have much less people who support me than the other members. But they're not zero. I'll go on until they won't reach the zero, even if they'll be really few. If there will be even only one person still supporting me I'll work for her. If there will be somebody who thinks to me I can think that it's good if I do it for her and I can go ahead. Even now when I feel down I read again the fanletters.
⊙ I see.
Then I also tried to listen to my own feelings a little more. I asked myself: "Why did I do this work until now? Why did I go on while people think that I'm not good and useless?"
⊙ Did you hear what your heart said?
Yes, it said: "It's because I want to stay here". I finally realized that "I'm standing here because I like it". It's not because of other people. I'm doing this because I want to.
⊙ How was when you had to stop your activities in 2006?
It was more on less on the same time I started to think that I had to work harder, that's why it was way too painful. When they spread the news we were already ready somehow, but when we gathered at the studios there was such a panic, I couldn't even cry. Massu cried but I was beyond sadness, inside my head there was a mass of thoughts spinning, like: "What will I do? How will it be from now on?", there was no space for sadness. I was already out of tears. Then me and Koyama met in a cafè, we just said: "How could this happen..." and after that we were speechless.
⊙ What were your thoughts during the hiatus?
Honestly, watching the debut of KAT-TUN and the activities of Arashi and Kanjani8 in TV was really painful.
⊙ NEWS started their activities again during the Countdown Live. When did you know about that?
Around 1 week before the live.
⊙ How was going back to stage after all that time?
Before going on stage me and Koyama stayed alone in the waiting room. Because Yamashita-kun had his solo, Nishikido-kun had Kanjani8 and Massu and Tegoshi had Tegomass, they all went on stage before us. Me and Koyama commented: "We really have nothing else, have we?". I knew that I wasn't enough good to have a solo but reality was like a punch on the face. I realized again how much NEWS were important to me, I trusted on their existence too much. Even at that Countdown we were alone in the waiting room jumping. The distance between the waiting room and the stage is just of a floor but from there it seems like an impossible distance.
⊙ So there wasn't only the joy of the coming back...
Right. Anyway the scenary I saw from the stage that time is something I'll never forget in my whole life. TOKIO's leader announced us to the audience: "You were all waiting for them!". When we arrived on the stage we saw all those people waving NEWS' uchiwas. I also spotted my name. Nobody knew we were going to be there for sure, nevertheless somebody came there and prepared uchiwas for us. There were people who waited for us. My face turned completely white for the happiness. The cheers were so loud that we couldn't quite hear the music of the song. In the audience there were fans crying. I sang thinking all the time: "It's me who wants to cry!".
⊙ Once overcome the hiatus you grew up.
Yes. But there was a reversal development then.
I put all my efforts in work but I had no work for myself at all. Of course we released a CD and had a live as NEWS. It was a chain effect (lol). Sometimes I honestly couldn't rejoice over the members' efforts. Even though I understood that their individual activities were all for the group. Yamashita-kun and Nishikido-kun had solo and were in the world of dramas. Tegoshi and Massu had Tegomass and Tegoshi worked also for ItteQ. Koyama was doing his best for News every. Why couldn't I have something to do my best as well? But I didn't know what to do to get new work.
[Here I got a shock...I thought he was still talking about the past instead he's talking about this last year...]
⊙ It was quite the opposite of your Junior time.
Exactly. When NEWS had lives I was super duper happy but when they ended I felt the void around me so much.
[And so we did too...]
⊙ What did you do then?
At first I did nothing but playing around. Anyway I still thought to all that inside my heart so I couldn't have real fun anymore.
⊙ How did you break this situation?
I thought about it a lot, I read books, I devoured documentaries.
⊙ Did you find the answer?
I didn't. Anyway once I saw a TV show, there was Ninomiya-kun and he said: "I was the only one who hadn't individual work, every other member worked hard on something. I was really worried thinking what could I do". I thought he was in my same condition. Back then Ninomiya-kun asked to the Jimusho to take an audition. Like that he got to do the audition for "Letters from Iwojima". Of course Ninomiya-kun is really good at acting, I recognized it. That made me realize: "I won't change anything only by thinking. It's important to move!".
⊙ I see.
I started to take initiative. Firstly I consulted with an important person of the Jimusho. Of course I knew that I wouldn't receive a work so easily. Anyway I talked about my problem.
⊙ What did he tell you?
A lot of severe things. The thing that hit me harder was when he asked me: "What is your charm?".
⊙ What did you answer?
I couldn't answer. I understood that I stopped because I couldn't answer that question. I think that probably I won't be able to answer that question with self-confidence in my whole life, due to my personality. Anyway I realized that I must go on searching "my personal charm".
⊙ When was all this?
November of last year. After that it dispelled. I thought: "If I don't go running now what can I do?". I felt like I was born again. Of course the world can't change in so little time. That's why I thought that starting from a little thing was good enough. For example every month I started to watch 10 movies at any cost. I wanted to do what I could. Doing that I had real fun. In the past I could never enjoy anything, I was always jealous of something I didn't have, of the things I couldn't do or I couldn't be good at. Right now I'm preparing to enjoy my future. I think that when my time will come I'll be able to enjoy it the most. That's why right now I feel I'm on the start line.
⊙ You went on step by step.
I always thought that I was no good, no matter what, I was useless. I decided that firstly I must start to like myself. I realized that I shouldn't always suppress myself by myself.
⊙ Including the Junior time you were always trying to put down walls, even now.
To me the Junior era was a huge misunderstanding. Of course I did my best back then, but it wasn't enough. If you rely on somebody else to stand on your feet you will never be able to do it by yourself. There are also people who go on only by luck probably. But to most of people, if they don't do their best, if they don't try anything, they won't be able to bear fruits. If you don't water yourself by yourself it's all useless. People who always say: "One day, one day" will never go anywhere.
⊙ It's like this indeed.
I still think that I entered the Jimusho by mistake. I didn't receive an answer for more than one year after the application, I'm sure I got mistaken for some other guy (lol).
⊙ Do you think that even now?
I do! Anyway I can do my best thanks to this too. I think everybody has his own way of working hard. There are people who do their best because they want to go higher. But there are others who think: "I want to do my best because I'm no good". I'm definitely like this. I want to do my best so that I'll be able to love myself. When I talk about it with Tegoshi, he's my very opposite. His motivation is: "I can do so much more!". I think that our company is full of people like him. They are the coolest ones. I tasted too many failures, gathered too many complexes to think like them (lol). Anyway I can't walk in a pace different from mine. I'm like: "I'm no good but still I do my best". It's not the beauty of the loser, I just think that I shouldn't look too far away, I should go on step by step.
⊙ Lastly, tell us your future's objectives.
For now I want to go on recklessly. I still don't know what I can do or how to get good results. In the past when I was asked about my dream I always answered: "I want to be a cool old man, even when I'll be 60 years old". Right now I think that a "cool old man" is a man who's always active. A man who always has a place to run, something to fight for, is the coolest of the men. That's why I want to run with all my might and keep on running. I want to become a man who will always have a place to fight, no matter how old I'll be.
I don't even know where to start with my commentary, I have got so much to say but I don't want to be too long because I think reading this was already enough for you all. Firstly, when I first read this I cried like a kid, I felt really stupid. Then translating it I got watery eyes many times again. Shige's story is pretty painful, I mean, he's a lucky guy for sure but he has so many complexes and negative thoughts that it's pitiful.
Anyway, this interview cheered me up somehow because of his mentions to the fans. I love Shige a lot but I always blamed him because I think he's too cold towards the fans. As he said, he doesn't want to sound mushy and cliché but I always thought that fans need to feel that their love is returned from time to time. It was nice to read that he cares about fans and that they/we helped him somehow in his career. I really appreciated it.
The shock came when I realized that he was talking about the very last year. We all know that NEWS situation went worse and worse after LIVE!x3 concerts but to read it from a member's interview is even more painful. I mean, in my room I have posters from the magazines of that period, they all smile so brightly, now when I watch it I feel hurt, it's all so fake. This is the confirmation that Shige started to have all those new works (butai, radio show, drama) because he wanted to do something while NEWS had no hope of activities. I'm happy he got them but it's so sad! The way he must have felt abandoned...It makes me so angry, I can't even express myself well.
Honestly, these long interviews sound like a memorial to NEWS. I still hope but I'm very skeptical about the possibility of new activities. It's really sad and pathetic.
This interview also reminded me why I love Shige so much anyway, he's a precious good guy. I don't think he's so useless as he thinks he is, but I know well how it is to hate yourself and destroy all your good sides thinking to the bad ones. The last answers he gave are true and I think that everybody should try to understand them and make them true in their own life. I should try it too.
That's all, sorry for the rant, depressing comment m(_ _ )m