Why I Came to Like Loneliness / Maeshima Ami’s “Sincere Words” ③

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QC: Ghostavich, Zero, Fran, my sister

Maeshima Ami started with idol activities and currently focuses on voice work and theater. What are the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this woman who strives for an honest life? These words will come sincerely from her heart.

 This post was written around the time the column was announced and the first post was published.

 I really appreciate the compliments on my choice of words and the fact that this column started off to a positive reception.

 Up until now, I’ve written about personal matters. As for the reason this column started in the first place, discussions began when I did an interview for the “O-hitorisama Senyou Walker 2021” (December 2020 Vol.) magazine.

“How did you come to like being alone?”

 I ended up hitting it off with the editor as I talked about my way of thinking and way of life. We said, “We should do something together again!”, and so this column came to be.

 I’m so glad we were able to reconnect like this. I feel like this column will become an irreplaceable and precious place for me, and I’m really looking forward to the future.

 Getting back to the topic, people these days use the phrase “doing ___ alone”. Do you enjoy being alone?

 I’m sure that I inherently enjoy and value my alone time, but I remember realizing this for the first time in elementary school.

 I was an energetic little girl in kindergarten. As I mentioned in the first article, I was a spirited girl, or rather, a tomboy who ran around playing sentai with boys—the complete opposite of someone who quietly plays alone.

 I moved in my first year of elementary school. The move was within Saitama Prefecture so it wasn’t far distance-wise, but it was a big deal for a 6 year old kid. I was so anxious about enrolling in an elementary school where I didn’t know a single person.

 After the entrance ceremony, the first person I wanted to be friends with was a girl whose name was alphabetically beside mine that ended up sitting behind me.

 I built up the courage to turn around and ask, “Hey, what’s your name?”. I remember being delighted and thinking, “Yay! I talked to her!”

 The girl happened to live close to me, and we ended up spending lots of time together. However, she was already close friends with another girl, and it wasn’t like she could spend all of her time with me.

 When I wasn’t with that girl, I’d think “what should I do……”. I learned that it’s quite difficult to communicate with others when you’re starting from scratch.

 Why is everyone always spending time with the same girl? Who am I supposed to talk to?

 No matter who I talked to or who I played with, I just couldn’t settle down or fit in. It was a strange feeling, like I couldn’t find a place where I belonged.

 I suddenly started thinking about things that never occurred to me in kindergarten, and this is when my personality began to change.

 I didn’t really understand what it felt like to have a “best friend” and began to think, “Maybe I’m just not that interested in people?”.

 That was when I started working as an entertainer. As a member of a group, I toured around the country, went overseas for photo shoots, held concerts and handshake events basically every day, and ended up spending more time with the members and staff than my own family.

 It was then that another strange thought occurred to me.

 ”Even when experiencing the same thing or hearing the same words, every person will have their own completely different interpretation.” I’m sure this is common at school, lessons, and work, but it really hit me in middle school.

 ”I felt a certain way and acted accordingly, but not everyone feels that way.”

 At the time, I was more focused on self-analysis than what I felt or thought about others. “Why do I feel that way? Why don’t I fit in with others?”.

  Instead of trying to get something out of my time with others, I first wanted to know why I thought this way.

 I found myself spending more time alone and becoming less proactive about meeting new people.

 I’d half given up on getting close to people and was worried that I might dislike them or be intolerant. That was when I came across the world of stage plays.

 This was a major event that I’d like to write about in detail later, but it was here that I found “someone who feels the same way I do”.

 They taught me a “common language” which allowed me to articulate on the unease that I’d been unable to put into words. I really enjoyed the time we spent creating art together and I realized, “I don’t hate people”. I was delighted and relieved at the thought.

 I like being alone, but it’s not because I dislike being with others. Rather, time spent getting myself in order and keeping my head on straight is essential and a bit higher on my priority list than spending time with others. Finally, I’d found an answer that brought me peace.

 I enjoy talking with friends or seniors and getting drinks with others, but in the end, I feel like spending time alone and getting myself in order suits me best.

 And so, without closing the door, I’ll continue to alternate between getting closer to people and taking a break. I hope to learn about the warmth of living with people as I communicate one by one, little by little with the people I like.

 I hope the people reading this can somewhat relate, or at least find it interesting even if they can’t relate at all. I think that’s also what encounters are about.

 In the future, I hope to cherish my “alone time” where I get myself in order while still enjoying new encounters.

 The picture at the beginning was taken on the day of the photoshoot for this column’s banner. The editor gave me a fried egg pin and said, “I look forward to working with you. Here’s your favorite food, eggs.”

A Life Changed by 100 Yen / Maeshima Ami’s “Sincere Words” ②

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QC: Ghostavich, fattoby, Zero

Maeshima Ami started with idol activities and currently focuses on voice work and theater. What are the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this woman who strives for an honest life? These words will come sincerely from her heart.

Taken just before passing the final audition.

“A Life Changed by 100 Yen”

 In my last column, I talked about karate and the sincerity which forms the core of my being.

 This time, I’ll be writing about a “major turning point in life” for that karate girl.

 At the age of 12, I made my major debut as a member of an idol group under avex.

 I’ve done many interviews since my debut and I think the questions I’ve been asked most are “Why did you apply for the audition?” and “What made you want to become an idol?”.

 In response to these questions, I would answer, “I’ve liked idols ever since I was young”.

 This is also the truth, as I did like Hello! Project and I looked up to Tsugunaga Momoko-san, but the true reason was something else.

 I applied for the audition because of an audition magazine that my older sister bought. At the time, I was completely focused on karate and had no interest in the world of television to the point where I wondered if celebrities really even existed.

 The magazine had a spread for an idol audition by avex. My sister asked me, “Hey, do you want to take this together?”, to which I uninterestedly replied, “No, thanks”.

 My mother then said to me, “Well, if you apply, I’ll let you play that game once”.

 Back then, I was addicted to an arcade game that cost 100 yen per play.

 It was a game called “Love and Berry: Dress Up and Dance!” where you would dress up girls, play a rhythm game, and collect fancy cards.

 I very much looked forward to playing that game even just once whenever we visited a big shopping mall or arcade. I collected hundreds of cards and my long-awaited DS version of the game just happened to be released on my birthday, so the game has a special place in my heart. Back then, I was so addicted to the game that I would have done anything to play it…!

“Fine…I’ll take it”

 I said this just to get a single card from a 100 yen game.

 Hence, “A Life Changed by 100 Yen”.

 By the time I received the notice that I’d passed the first round, I had completely forgotten about the audition and my mom contacted me in the middle of a karate match.

“Hey, there’s a letter here for you”

 Passing even the first round for an audition in the entertainment industry—thinking something like this would never happen again, I took the second round with a mix of bewilderment and a desire to make memories.

 I still remember how my heart pounded as I arrived in Tokyo after a shaky train ride from Saitama.

 I sang in front of judges and had my picture taken by professional photographers for the first time. As I was about to go home after a nerve-wracking but incredible experience, I was yet again surprised when they informed me that I had passed.

“Eh? W-what should I do…”

 Up until this point, I had continued under the assumption that there was no way I’d pass. All the anxiety hit me at once and, after consulting with my parents, I decided to withdraw from the audition.

 However, a staff member from the audition contacted me afterwards and we had a talk.

“……since you’ve made it this far, why not just try and push through to the very end?”

 I remember how, upon heard those words, I suddenly felt “drawn to a world of light” hidden amongst my great anxiety towards the unknown.

 It’s scary, but maybe I do want to give it my best shot. Now that I’d decided “maybe I do want to experience the dream of show business”, I would face it head on.

 I was determined to “definitely have my debut”, and I did my best at the audition that followed.

 Nonetheless, I had no experience with singing and dancing. At first, I couldn’t keep up with the rigorous lessons and footage of me crying “it’s frustrating” was broadcasted nationwide on a morning program. It would be difficult to pass at this rate… and I spent my audition days with feelings of frustration.

 I was completely unable to sing or dance, but the more I did it, the more something within me began to enjoy it. The candidates around me who could do what I could not were so cool. I want to be able to put on “performances that reflect my heart” like them.

 As I became fascinated with the idea of expression, I desired to learn more about it. It ignited my competitive spirit that was fostered by karate.

“Since I’ve made it this far, I definitely want to perform on stage.”

 I’ll never forget how I felt the moment when the results for the final round were announced and my name was called. One of my dreams had come true, and the door to my debut would be opened.

 This is where my history of expression began. It’s already been 10 years, but I still remember every moment in detail. That’s how significant of an event it was to me.

 Sometimes, I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t been so caught up in that game back then.

 I’ve discovered so much because I took that one step: entertainment that brings cheer to people, deep connections with those who support me, and works that give me proof of my existence and affirmation of my life.

 I’m glad I wanted to know how to express my heart, and that I had the courage to do so.

 I like this path of mine that was changed by 100 yen.

 Time has passed and I’m now 23 years old. I hope to continue enjoying the twists and turns that come along and live a life of expression without forgetting how it felt to take the leap back then.

Encountering Sincerity / Maeshima Ami’s “Sincere Words” ①

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QC: ramen, Zero, Ghostavich

Maeshima Ami began with idol activities and currently focuses on voice work and theater. What are the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of this woman who strives for an honest life? These words will come sincerely from her heart.

 Nice to meet you. My name is Maeshima Ami, and I’ll be writing this column for Da Vinci News. I’ve always wanted to “write about something”. I want to make it happen someday. As someone who’s had these thoughts in the back of my mind, I’m genuinely happy to be writing a column here.

“Maeshima Ami’s Sincere Words”

 The title of this column contains “真心” (sincerity), which combines my desire to speak from the “心” (heart) with my favorite kanji, “真” (truth).

 I’d like this to be a place where I can share my view of the world, thoughtfully writing about things like my feelings on the many people I’ve met, thoughts that have come up over the course of my work, and ordinary moments from my everyday life as someone who entered the entertainment industry at the age of 12. I hope this column can be enjoyed both by those who don’t know me and by those who do, from the past or the present.

 Since this is my first time writing here, I’ll start with a brief introduction.

 Or so I said, but it’s really difficult to introduce yourself, isn’t it? Over the past 23 years of my life, many people have called me “serious”. More people began to praise my attitude, courtesy, and choice of words, all of which I considered ordinary. It occurred to me that “Kyokushin karate” had taught me these mentalities.

 In this article, I’ll be writing about the sincerity that I learned from my special skill, “Kyokushin karate”.

 I was a young and innocent girl who preferred playing sentai over dolls. While other kids around me studied piano and ballet, I wanted to be strong, so in early grade school I visited a karate dojo near my home. The first martial arts dojo that I visited radiated with excitement. The instructors and adults had an air of dignity and the kids around my age looked so cool in their uniforms. Whenever I heard the rustling uniforms and energetic shouts echoing throughout the dojo, my heart would fill with excitement.

 I was somewhat anxious and nervous since there weren’t many girls at the dojo back then, but I wanted to know more about this thrill and I wanted to be cool, so I mustered up the courage and enrolled. The first thing I learned in karate was how to greet others. You greet your instructors and seniors with “osu”, greet the dojo, then begin practice. I loved that polite “courtesy”.

 My passion for karate grew each time I learned a bit more about “martial arts” at these practices surrounded by boys. It didn’t matter if I was a girl. Every day, I would fight my heart out at practice, training camps, and matches. I simply enjoyed karate and fighting, even if I was in pain or covered in bruises.

 There’s a joy that comes after victory from hard work. The color of your belt changes and training your body trains your spirit in turn. I found it “fascinating” to keep myself disciplined, believe in my own efforts, and boldly take on challenges even when faced with anxiety and dread at big matches or promotion exams.

 Train your mind and body while showing respect to your instructors and seniors: I think karate is what taught me this mindset. The instructors guided us with love, and I loved seeing the smile on their faces when they told me “good job”. That dignified dojo enveloped me with a comforting warmth.

 Respecting others while working hard with humility and earnesty. I like the “sincerity” in this way of life.

 As I became busier with work, I couldn’t really join practices and I stopped going to the dojo. However, I definitely want to do karate again and I’d very much like to thank my instructors. As I grow older, I want to treasure this “真” (truth) which I took to heart as a student and the sincerity I learned after finding Kyokushin karate.

 In this article, I introduced myself and wrote about karate, which forms the roots of my spirit. Next time, I’ll talk about why such a spirited girl began working as an entertainer.

 Thank you for reading to the very end. I hope you’ll continue to follow me.