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#15 From Idol to Rock Band – Reina Tanaka and The Meaning of "Hometown"(1/3)

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asianbeat, the website that publishes these articles, is run by the Fukuoka prefectural government. Fukuoka is an important gateway connecting Japan to the world, and in particular, the neighboring countries in Asia. asianbeat is the brainchild and project devised by the Fukuoka prefectural government to forge stronger bonds between Japan and the rest of the world.

One of the reasons I work as an advisor to asianbeat is because I can relate to the feelings of the people of Fukuoka who are involved with this project. And before I knew it, Fukuoka had become like a second hometown to me. Fukuoka is also a place that has produced countless big name artists. One of which is Reina Tanaka.
Even after her graduation from Morning Musume。Reina Tanaka continued her path as a singer, leading the group LoVendoЯ, and I got to see them perform in Fukuoka. This was part of a promise that I made with Tanaka at Japan Pop Culture Carnival 2014, the event which I wrote about in my previous article, but it was also partly because I just really wanted to see her perform live in her beloved hometown.

Here’s what Tanaka had to say on the topic of Fukuoka.

Tanaka “It wasn’t until I joined Morning Musume。and moved to Tokyo that I really began to develop an awareness what Fukuoka was. The warmth of friends, delicious food. I would often think to myself, I want to go home, I want to see my dad, I want to go back to Fukuoka.  It was a place that I could always go back to if I ever left Morning Musume。, and I thought that once I left the group I would go straight back.”

I’m from Tokyo myself, so I often feel jealous of people who have a hometown.

Tanaka “I hear that quite a lot from people from Tokyo. But from my point of view, idols from Tokyo can commute to work from their parents’ house in Tokyo, so they never have to leave their family or be alone, and that’s what I was jealous of. I came to Tokyo with my mother and younger brother, because I thought if I had a house in Fukuoka and in Tokyo then I would be working for my family, and it was that determination not to throw various things away that made a big difference for me.”

I wasn’t aware of Reina Tanaka’s existence when she was 12, but when I think about it, I guess that’s what it must have been like for her. When I was 12, I was warm and comfy in my home thinking about American and British rock or movies, so I admire the path she has come in her career.

Tanaka “I was so nervous when Morning Musume。would perform in Fukuoka. The fans would all say “Okaeri” (Welcome home) to me, but when all the focus was put on me like that, I would tend to stiffen up and overthink things. I’m from Fukuoka but I’ve been living in Tokyo now for half my life, so I don’t feel that there’s as big a difference between the the two as I used to. I do feel that there’s a big difference between when I used to perform in Fukuoka with Morning Musume。and when I’m performing in Fukuoka with LoVendoЯnow, though. Now I can perform without over-thinking and working myself up too much.
I think the fact that Fukuoka was a place that work would always take me made a big difference. If my hometown was a place that I could hardly ever get to, I probably would have developed different feelings for that hometown in various ways.
It would be nice to be able to go home to Fukuoka for work other than live performances and have a little more time to relax, though.”

LoVendoЯ's Fukuoka Performance

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