Kra Interview!

KraJRR: First of all, congratulations on your major debut.

ALL: Thank you.

JRR: What has changed since you became a major band?

KEIYU: Well, the number of staff around us has definitely increased. (Laughs.) We’ve had the same management company since we were an indies band, but now that we’re working with a record company, there are many opinions given to us on making any single song. So, compared to our indies days, we’ve lost some freedom.

YASUNO: Yeah, we have to get several confirmations before we can proceed with something. The more people you have to work with, the more comments and suggestions there are.

JRR: Could you each introduce yourselves, the position you play, and explain why you chose the instruments that you play?

KEIYU: I’m the vocalist of Kra. The reason why I became the vocalist is because, well, I’ve been learning piano since I was little, so I was confident playing it. But I got tired of playing piano, so I wanted to do something else. I thought of guitar, but didn’t want to deal with tedious practicing (laughs), so I thought I’d give singing a try, and if it didn’t work out I was going to turn to guitar. That’s how I decided.

YASUNO: Next, let’s have MAI, whose part [guitar] is considered “tedious.”

JRR: MAI is the leader of Kra, right?

MAI: Yes, it’s just a title, though. I’m the guitarist of Kra. The reason I started playing guitar was because I thought it suited me the best and looked the coolest.

JRR: When you started playing, which guitarists did you think were cool?

MAI: LUNA SEA’s SUGIZO-san and INORAN-san, whose reunion live we got to see in December. I thought they looked really cool.

JRR: What did you think of the concert?

MAI: I thought it was the best Christmas gift.

YURA: I’m the bassist of Kra. I picked bass up because the part was open when the band was looking for people.

JRR: With Kra?

YURA:: No, with the band I played in previously.

JRR: How does playing in Kra compare to your previous band?

YURA:: It wasn’t really a band, we just played for fun.

YASUNO: I’m the drummer of Kra. I started playing drums because I looked up to SHINYA of LUNA SEA. I was in a band that also performed at live houses covering songs, and that’s when I met the other members of Kra.

JRR: Wow. What did you think of SHINYA’s drum solo?

YASUNO: I felt like screaming. (Laughs.) But I was with everyone else so I held it in.

JRR: How did you meet each other?

KEIYU: At first, I was in the band that YURA played with. We had a guitarist and drummer at the time, but they quit after a while, so we had to look for new members. At the rehearsal studio that we went, there was a bulletin board where people posted fliers looking for band members. The flier that caught our eyes was one that had a picture of a guy dressed in black, with long black hair, and telephone numbers printed at the bottom. That was MAI. We called him up, and when we first met, I thought: “Is this guy an otaku from Akihabara?” (Laughs.) But YURA thought differently.

YURA:: I thought he probably was popular with girls.

JRR: That’s completely different!

(Group laughter..)

KEIYU: Yeah we both had a very different impression of him, but we thought: “Oh well, he’ll do.” (Laughs.)

JRR: So what was he really like?

YURA:: Otaku. (Overzealous fan.)

MAI: I was looking for band members at the time, and KEIYU and YURA found my flier, so we got together.

KEIYU: We set our first performance to be September 11th, but our drummer at the time decided to quit, so that meant we were going to have to use the computer for drum sounds. Then our senpai Kagrra, introduced YASUNO to us.

YASUNO: I also had another band at the time and had appeared at some events with Kagrra,. I was having some problems with my previous band because we had different views, so I thought of joining a new band. I also thought MAI had a pretty face, so I contacted ISSHI and asked him to introduce him to me. Then when we met, those two (KEIYU and YURA) tagged along with him, that’s how I met them.

KEIYU: We didn’t tag along; we went there because we were nice. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: But I was the one that arranged the meeting. (Laughs.) So anyways, we ended up meeting at a local rehearsal studio.

KEIYU: He had a different hair style back then.

YASUNO: When we first met, I had long pink hair.

KEIYU: It wasn’t the reddish pink that he started out Kra with, it was more of a fluorescent pink. So that day when we opened the door to the studio, we were like: “…Are we in the wrong room?” (Laughs.) We were really surprised. Although we also had bright colored hair at times, in my mind, fluorescent pink is more meant for metal or heavier rock music. So I thought our genres were different. I double-checked the studio room to see if it was the right one, and upon a closer look we saw that MAI was there as well, so we went in nevertheless. Then MAI told us: “This is our new drummer.” That was our shocking first impression of each other. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: It was about a month before the said live performance, so we had to cram a lot.

JRR: Is that why your nickname is OPINKU-SAMA?

YASUNO: Yeah.

JRR: But now your hair isn’t pink anymore. Would you dye it pink again in the future?

YASUNO: If the boss allows it. (Laughs.)

JRR: Why?

YASUNO: Right now we have to coordinate as a band, but in the future, you never know; if our image changes, I might be able to dye it pink again.

JRR: How do you feel when you see yourself in magazines and posters all made up with costumes?

YASUNO: At first it felt funny.

KEIYU: It felt very different from the regular pictures we had taken before. With make up, hair, and costume, it felt like it was a different person. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: Our first artist photo shoot was done at a photo studio, and when we got the print outs we thought, “Who is this?” (Laughs.) And when we saw the poster we thought: “Whoa.” It was the same for magazine shoots. (Laughs.) It felt really unbelievable. Regular salary men probably can’t achieve the same effect, though. (Laughs.)

MAI: I thought photographs were amazing. Our faces looked different.

YURA:: We don’t really have that much time to check out our own videos, etc, but I thought “Are the people here to see us [or the guys in the pictures]? How did so many people come?”

JRR: In your mini album Creatures, there are a variety of musical styles. Is that something that you are going to continue in doing?

KEIYU: In regards to Creatures, it sort of turned out that way naturally, when we made it. Kra`s intention is not to be tied to any particular genre but to play with different musical styles. There are so many different types of music out there; we’d like to absorb as much as we can and try them out. The ones that don’t work out for us, we probably won’t deal with further; but the ones that sound good to us, we could work on top of that to make it one of Kra`s
styles. I think our release Yell [released January 23rd, 2008] shows a different side of Kra as compared to Creatures, and it’s what we want to do at the time. Whereas when some bands play a song that sounds different from what they’ve had made before, people would think: “Oh they changed their style!” I don’t think Kra would be thought of like that.

YASUNO: Because we’ve never had a set music style. The four of us have rather different tastes in music, so as long as the four of us are together, we will keep on experimenting with different music styles.

JRR: What types of music do you all like?

YASUNO: I like hard rock, progressive rock, ones that have strong drum sounds.

KEIYU: I like classical music, and underground rock. I like ŌTSUKI KENJI, and other artists that are considered unusual.

YURA:: Rather than a certain music type, as far as bands go, I like bands that have a great bassist.

JRR: What did you think of J’s bass solo?

YURA:: It was really cool and very well-played.

JRR: In regards to your first full album dhar·ma, is it different to record a full album compared to all the other recording experiences you’ve had?

MAI: Up till dhar·ma, we’ve only had maxi singles; of course there are many more songs in an album, and we also have to pay attention to the overall flow of the album. We had to create a certain feel and characteristics, so it was a different experience.

YASUNO: We had more room to work with things. Because it had a bigger capacity, we were able to go from heavier rock sounds, to the more emotional tracks such as “TSUTANAI KOTOBA.” We were more conscious of making something with more varieties.

KEIYU: For the order of songs, we imagined the flow of the songs at lives; in the beginning, it’d be more excitement to pump people up; in the middle, to have easier listening songs; and at the end to bring up the spirit again, with “TSUTANAI KOTOBA.”

JRR: For your overseas fans who do not understand Japanese, are there any song lyrics you would like for them to understand the meanings of?

KEIYU: From dhar·ma, the song “TSUTANAI KOTOBA” is a song dedicated to fans. The word “tsutanai” is one that’s not really understood by most people, even the Japanese. A lot of them just sort of understand what it means, but can’t explain it, because It’s a very ambiguous, unclear expression.

JRR: So what does it mean?

KEIYU: It’s kind of like being clumsy. So “tsutanai kotoba” is like being clumsy with words, not being able to express yourself with words. There are people who are bad with words and have trouble saying directly how they feel and speak in a roundabout way. The lyrics to this song were written towards the fans.

YASUNO: It’s like our message to the fans. Since KEIYU is the one that writes all the lyrics, I can only make a comment on the side. Instead of just enjoying the lyrics, I think it’d be a great idea for the fans to try to understand the circumstances in which he wrote the lyrics under; I think they need to learn Japanese in order to achieve this. (Laughs.) Because even if you read the translated lyrics, most of the time, meanings are lost in translation, because the translator may use a word that is similar, but it might not have the exact implication. It’s probably just the same as when we listen to western music. Although we listen to the music, we don’t really understand the meaning of the songs. So the best way for the fans to understand the lyrics of the songs would really be to learn Japanese.

KEIYU: We probably should learn English too. (Laughs.)

JRR: Are there any Japanese words or concepts that you would like to teach to your overseas fans?

YASUNO: Just like we discussed earlier with “tsutanai kotoba,” there are a lot of ambiguous Japanese words that can’t be directly translated into English, because the meanings aren’t exactly the same. I think those words are actually very enjoyable once you learn what they mean, and are a unique portion of the Japanese language. I think KEIYU uses a lot of those words in his lyrics.

KEIYU: I have one that I’d like to teach, and have them spread to their friends “Kra wa ii yo!” [“Kra is good!”] (Laughs.)

JRR: Are there any other words or phrases that you’d like to teach, or would be happy if your overseas fans said it to you?

MAI: Ninjō. [The concept of being warm-hearted and thoughtful of others.]

KEIYU: You’d be happy if they say that to you? (Laughs.)

MAI: No, I’d like to understand the meaning of that word. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: MAI, can you write the kanji to ninjō?

MAI: Sure I can… “Nin” is the character for “hito” [person], and “jō” is written with the stand-up heart character on the left and the kanji for “umareru” [to be born] on the right.

YASUNO: No it isn’t.

JRR: You mean the character for blue on the right.

MAI: … Yes.

(Group laughter..)

KEIYU: The education system in Japan now is focused on leniency and individual talents instead of learning by memorizing everything.

JRR: Do you dislike kanji?

MAI: I am making the effort to like it. (Laughs.)

YURA:: At lives, when the vocalists yell out “Kakattekoi!” [“Bring it on!”] or “Abarerou!” [“Get out of control!”] I want the fans to be able to understand those. I think if they understand these, they would know how to react at lives.

JRR: We also wanted to ask you about your alternate band, 36481. Where did that band come from, and what is it about?

KEIYU: That has nothing to do with us. It was a band that looked like us.

YASUNO: It was a copy band.

KEIYU: A few people that looked like us gathered together and played other people’s songs and did live performances—(puts his wrists together, indicating that they’ve been arrested)—and that’s how it was set to be.

(Group laughter.)

JRR: So they’ve been arrested?

KEIYU: They’ve been planning to escape from jail for a few times. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: Don’t miss it.

JRR: During 2008, what would you like to do to reach out more to your fans overseas?

KEIYU: We will be performing in Germany at the end 2007, and during this past summer we also performed in Korea. So for the places we have already gone to, we’d like more opportunities to go again, at the same time to have more people know about us and listen to our music. In Japan, people learn by ways of “kuchikomi” [“word of mouth”], so if that can work on a world-wide scale, even slowly, I think it’d be great. By doing more lives overseas and getting interviews with foreign media, we hope to spread our name out there more in 2008.

JRR: Which countries would you like to go?

YASUNO: I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, and since we are going to Germany this time, I’d also like to have the chance to go to Italy or England, more countries in Europe.

JRR: How long do you plan to stay in Germany? Would you have time to go sightseeing?

YASUNO: No, we are pretty much just going there to do the live, and will head back to Japan right after.

MAI: I would like to go to India.

YURA:: You mean for sightseeing.

KEIYU: Not for live, right?

MAI: No.

JRR: What do you like about India?

MAI: Magnificent nature sites such as the Ganges River. I’d like to go there one day.

YURA:: I’d like to go to Taiwan.

JRR: Oh really?

YURA:: I’ve told our staff that I’d like to go to Taiwan for lives.

JRR: Taiwan is very close to Japan, it’s only about a three-hour flight.

YURA:: Oh that’s close.

YASUNO: I’ve heard that the Taiwanese audiences are very passionate.

KEIYU: We do have a handful of Taiwanese fans that come to our lives. There are a lot of pretty girls in Taiwan. I would like to go to Canada. I went there once when I was little, so I have memories there. I want to see how different the scenery I saw when I was little differ from what I see now.

JRR: What season did you go?

KEIYU: I think it was winter. It was very cold, but I had fun there.

YASUNO: You’d probably have to study French.

KEIYU: Don’t they speak English?

YASUNO: Some of they do, but a lot of them speak French there too.

KEIYU: Oh, I didn’t know that.

JRR: Are you learning German now?

YASUNO: Just the basics.

JRR: Do you all have pets?

YASUNO: No… I’m the only one that doesn’t have a pet. I’m already occupied by myself. (Laughs.)

KEIYU: I have a Central Bearded Dragon [also known as an Inland Bearded Dragon], I think it originates from Australia. Now we can’t import those with airplanes anymore. People there used to breed them, I think.

JRR: How big is it?

KEIYU: 45 to 50cm long. It has a long tail. Mine is a bright yellow, and it’s really cute.

JRR: What’s its name?

KEIYU: Giru. I named it after the FINAL FANTASY character, Gilgamesh. It’s supposed to be an enemy character, but he has “ninjō,” and has a lot of interactions with the main characters of the game, so I like that character. Giru’s official name is “Gilgamesh,” but it’s long to call him that so I just call him “Giru.” He’s really cute.

JRR: Do you have a picture?

KEIYU: Yes! (Pulls out his cell phone and shows us the pictures like a proud parent.) It’s generally a bright yellow, and is only orange-yellow right after it sheds skin. It’s so cute.

JRR: It’s very cool looking! Thank you for sharing with us. MAI is a dog, right? [Verbal misstep—meant to say “MAI has a dog”]

JRR2: No he’s not a dog!

(Group laughter.)

KEIYU: He’s cute like a dog, isn’t he? (Laughs.)

MAI: I have a Shetland Sheepdog named Tomu.

JRR: Aren’t those kind of big?

MAI: No, she’s a medium size.

JRR: She looks like Lassie.

MAI: Yes, a small Lassie. She always pees the bed when we sleep together.

JRR: ?

MAI: Because she gets too excited. (Laughs.)

JRR: YURA has a ferret?

YURA:: It’s name is Dita.

JRR: Why Dita?

YURA:: There is a lychee flavored liquor named Dita. When I got it, I was wondering what name to give it, I saw a bottle of Dita, so I just named it that.

JRR: Do you plan on having a pet?

YASUNO: Not yet, but I like Miniature Schnauzer so I’d like to have one someday. One of the staff at SEXY DYNAMITE LONDON has a pet Miniature Schnauzer and it’s really cute. It makes me want to have one, so maybe one day I will get one.

JRR: Are you a fan of EVANGELION?

KEIYU: Yes, I love it.

JRR: Who are your favorite characters?

KEIYU: Ayanami Rei and Kaoru.

JRR: Did you watch it when you were little?

KEIYU: When I was in junior high, around 14 or 15, they played it on TV so I watched it.

JRR: Were you able to understand the deep meanings?

KEIYU: I was aware of the fact that it probably had some deep meanings, but I didn’t really understand at the time. At the time, Japanese anime had already been popularized for a long time, but there was nothing like EVANGELION, which had minutes of silence. For people who weren’t watching the images, they probably thought it was a broadcasting error. (Laughs.) I thought it was very different.

YURA:: It was very unique for a TV-broadcasted animation.

JRR: Have you played all of FINAL FANTASY?

KEIYU: I’ve played all.

JRR: Which one is your favorite one?

KEIYU: Story-wise, I like the old ones like VI and VII.

JRR: Have you watched ADVENT CHILDREN?

KEIYU: Yeah, I thought the computer graphics were really good; my favorite scene was when CLOUD defeated SEPHIROT. SEPHIROT says “Chigauyo, tomodachi darou” [“No, we’re friends, right?”]

MAI: Wasn’t that in the game?

KEIYU: Oops. (Laughs.)

JRR: When you play, do you make sure you collect all there is to collect and do all the side quests?

KEIYU: I do. Only MAI and I play video games, but we are completely different type of players. I’d try to do everything possible, see all the side stories, but MAI isn’t like that; he just wants to finish it as soon as possible.

MAI: “Come on, come on” [“Bring it on, bring it on”]

YURA:: I stopped playing when the graphics got better. I played up to VII. There’s the snowboard mini game in VII, and I got the best score possible. But I stopped right after that. I didn’t even clear it.

JRR: I wanted to collect all the materials but got tired of doing so.

KEIYU: You shouldn’t be tired of doing that! (Laughs.)

YURA:: I thought II was the most fun. There were two departments, one handled the even numbers, and the other handled the odd numbers. II, IV, and VI were made by the same department, and I, III, V were made by the other. That’s why the contents and graphics were different.

KEIYU: But I think those were the best times, because the two departments probably felt the need to compete with each other, to make theirs better than the other team. But VIII was a flop… (Laughs.)

YUU: This is like a video game talk world. (Laughs.)

KEIYU: This is probably the most fun interview I’ve done in my 6-7 years as a musician. (Laughs.)

JRR: YASUNO doesn’t play any video games?

YASUNO: I don’t play any role playing games.

JRR: What games do you play?

YASUNO: I like cars so I like the car games at game centers.

JRR: Oh, I’m pretty good at those.

YASUNO: Oh, if we have the chance we should play. (Laughs.)

KEIYU: Is MONSTER HUNTER popular there?

JRR: No, the popular game now is GUITAR HERO. There are an increasing number of kids who, instead of actually forming a band, they decide to play the game. Also another game called ROCK BAND is also popular now.

YASUNO: Is it also an online game?

JRR: No, it hasn’t become one yet.

KEIYU: I played FINAL FANTASY XI online a little in the beginning. I’m pretty shy with people I don’t know, so it was a little awkward for me when people talked to me online; I type a bit slow too so I always felt pressured when responding. There were people who tried to talk to me in Japanese, but I still didn’t feel comfortable playing it. There were also people who messaged me in English, to which I thought: “Oh crap!” and didn’t know how to respond. (Laughs.) I did get to learn a little bit of English while playing though. It was interesting because when you’re online, even though you don’t know each other, and you might not even speak the same language, people passing by might still assist your character, so in a way I think it’s a great place for people of different countries to mingle.

JRR: That’s “ninjō.”

KEIYU: Yes. (Laughs.)

JRR: Do you ever look yourselves up online?

YASUNO: I’ve searched “Kra YASUNO,” and found a lot of fan sites.

JRR: Have you looked at those websites?

YASUNO: Yeah, I’ve looked at a couple that showed up.

JRR: How did you feel when you saw information that was incorrect?

YASUNO: Well, there’s really nothing I can do, I was happier about the fact that they cared about us.

KEIYU: The first couple years when we started the band, I’ve tried to search a couple times using my name, but all I got were pictures of sceneries [kei] or sunsets [yuu].

(Group laughter.)

But after four to five years, when I searched again, I found a lot of fan sites. I thought: “Oh wow, now I can be searched!” (Laughs.)

YURA:: I do look at fan sites. I have a blog that tracks people who visited my site, and one night, because it was Christmas Eve, I visited all those people, about 340-some of them, their sites in return. There were ones that I probably shouldn’t have looked at, but also ones that were nice.

MAI: I’ve also searched Kra online, but what I got was a horse racing website. I was like, “What?” Then I looked down some more and found sites related to us, and was relieved.

KEIYU: Maybe it’s Korean horse racing website?

YASUNO: No, it’s a Japanese horse racing site, I think it’s Kantou-something.

KEIYU: Oh, either way it’s different. [Ed. note: There is a Korean Racing Association, and a Kinokuniya Racing Association.]

JRR: Where did the band name come from, and why is it spelled that way?

KEIYU: We get asked this question a lot. There isn’t a meaning to the name Kra. When we named the band, we didn’t want to attach a set meaning to the name. There is a fashion magazine called “KERA!,” and we thought about using it but thought it probably wasn’t a good idea to have the same name as the magazine, and if we don’t become a really good band, people would probably complain. (Laughs.) So, YURA said, “Let’s take out the ‘E’” and made it Kra, which doesn’t have a meaning.

JRR: YURA, you’ve posted some recipes on your blogs. Do you like cooking?

YURA:: I do.

JRR: What are you good at making?

YURA:: Nothing in particular, I just enjoy cooking in general. In the beginning I had jobs at restaurants, when we first started the band, eventually the band activities got busier so I quit the restaurant job. Now I post simple recipes that anyone can make online.

JRR: For example?

YURA:: Such as how to slice a fish and make it into sashimi. I can’t really teach them how to make sushi but at least I can teach them how to properly hold a knife.

JRR: Do you have a special knife?

YURA:: I did use some good knives when I worked at the restaurant, and in the beginning I had to train to use the knife properly everyday.

YASUNO: I like to make foods that I like to eat, such as pasta. I also like coffee so I make coffee. So just simple things. Sometimes I watch SMAP x SMAP’s cooking show, and think it’s cool to cook so fashionably. Even if what they’re making isn’t really that fancy, they make the food look great.

JRR: Such as cleaning the rim of the plate?

YASUNO: Yes exactly! And when they bring out the plate, it also looks fashionable. I want to be someone like that. So it’s kinda like I look up to them. Also because I like TAKUYA KIMURA, I want to be cool like him.

JRR: How many piercings do you have?

YASUNO: Ten on one ear, eight on the other, and 1 more on the top. Nineteen total.

JRR: How long have you been getting them?

YASUNO: I started with my ear, and it took me about five years to get all 19. I started shortly after Kra started.

JRR: Do you plan on getting more?

YASUNO: If I get any more I wouldn’t have any ear left (Laughs.) and I wouldn’t be able to put an earphone in. I did want to put one here (pointing to the crus of helix) but then I wouldn’t be able to wear a headphone during lives.

JRR: What about on the face?

YASUNO: I would never put a piercing on my face—to me, my face is my life. There are people who put piercings on their lips, for example, which is fine, but I prefer girls who don’t do it. If a girl does it, somehow their lips remind me of cod roe. (Laughs.)

KEIYU: I don’t have any piercings. I had one a long time ago, but I don’t really wear accessories, and it bothered me a lot. Especially when I slept on the ear, it hurt. At first I didn’t really pay attention, and then I realized that it was the earring that was bothering me.

YASUNO: You had to sleep on the side without the earring because of it.

KEIYU: Yeah, so I just took it out and never put it back again.

YURA:: I have two but I’m only wearing one. I’m trying to have the other piercing close up, so I just leave it alone.

JRR: What part time jobs did you have?

YURA:: I worked at an izakaya [similar to a Pub], Don Quijote [discount store], butcher shop, and Matsuya [similar to Yoshinoya, cheap eats].

JRR: So mostly food places?

YURA:: Yeah. I think I had a knack for it, and I enjoyed the jobs too.

MAI: I worked dispatch jobs and had to move large objects such as huge copy machines, worked at udon places, and convenience stores.

KEIYU: I worked at a convenience store… for about an hour and a half.

JRR: Huh?

KEIYU: Besides that I’ve never worked any jobs. I think I’m not made for this [working] society. (Laughs.) If I wasn’t in a band, I probably wouldn’t be in this world. (Laughs.)

JRR: You probably could have become a piano teacher.

KEIYU: I did think about it but… At the convenience store, whenever a customer comes in, the staff has to say “irasshaimase,” [“welcome”] and at the time the store manager said that I didn’t say it loud enough. So I thought I’d see how he did it, but the next time when a customer came in, he said “irasshaimase” in a small voice. I was like: “What the?” and thought I just couldn’t do it.

JRR: So it’s the store manager’s fault.

KEIYU: Yeah. (Laughs.) Well I was also young, so, anyways, let’s talk about YASUNO. (Laughs.)

YASUNO: I had several part time jobs. I’ve also worked at a convenience store, but since I had pink hair, they’d only give me the night shifts. But I had no problem saying things like “irasshaimase,” actually I rather liked doing so, and I always talked in a loud, energized voice even late into the night. I’ve also worked at a karaoke store and as the security guard at concerts.

JRR: With pink hair?

YASUNO: Yeah, and wearing a suit. (Laughs.) I was living at Niigata at the time, and I was one of the security guards for SHAZNA’s live there. I’ve worked at many different jobs, also including dispatch staff, and construction sites, etc.

JRR: Where are your hometowns?

KEIYU: I’m from Shizuoka Prefecture. (Laughs) It’s a pretty big prefecture in Japan, and is somewhere in between being a big city and a country side. Suburban. It’s really comfortable to live there. It’s a pretty relaxed place, and the train only comes about every twenty minutes. So when I first came to the city I was surprised; after one train comes, the other comes right away! (Laughs.)

JRR: What’s Shizuoka famous for?

KEIYU: There’s green tea and wasabi. It’s a big prefecture, so it’s divided into three parts, the west side, the east side, and the central area. The east area is famous for wasabi and oranges; the central area is famous for tea; and the west side is famous for eel.

JRR: Are there any sightseeing spots?

KEIYU: Not at all. (Laughs.) For someone who likes fish, they can go to Numazuko or Minato or Yaizuko [harbor cities], it might be interesting for them because there are fish markets.

YASUNO: Like a morning fish market.

KEIYU: No they don’t have that. (Laughs.) No morning markets but there are sushi places.

YURA:: I’m from Setagaya, Tokyo.

JRR: Do you move by car or train?

YASUNO: I walk usually.

JRR: Do you live close by?

KEIYU: Yeah we do. But since we live close to the station, when we need to go somewhere for work or other personal stuff, we take the train.

JRR: Do you have a driver’s license?

KEIYU: No I don’t.

YASUNO: I do, but when we go to places like Shinjuku or Shibuya it’s easier to get there by train.

JRR: Have you ever been recognized in public?

YASUNO: Sometimes, since my hair stands out a lot; sometimes the fans would stop me and say “YASUNO-san~.” MAI, on the other hand, stays home a lot, so…

MAI: Yeah, I stay home most of the time and don’t go out much.

JRR: How come?

(Group laughter.)

MAI: It’s a dangerous world out there; it’s safest being at home.

KEIYU: He plays games a lot, so he doesn’t have time to go out. Instead of going out and just wandering around, he feels more constructive playing video games with goals.

YASUNO: We think very differently in that sense; for me, instead of spending time at home playing games, I prefer to go out and look at all the different stores. It’s more fun for me. But for people who’d rather stay home and play games, they probably think I waste my time wandering around aimlessly.

JRR: (To MAI) You can play a PSP and go out with YASUNO at the same time, what do you say?

(Group laughter.)

JRR: What do you plan to do inside the airplane when you head for Germany?

KEIYU: Well, I’d love to play PSP or DS games, but I think the airline regulation says you can’t…

JRR: You can’t play during take off and landing, but you can play during flight.

KEIYU: Oh really? Ok then. Because when we went to Korea and tried to play the DS game with multi-players but they said it wasn’t allowed.

JRR: Yeah, that’s because when the consoles communicate with each other the frequency interferes with the airplane flight signal. Same for cell phones.

KEIYU: I see. We thought we couldn’t play games, but if we can, I’ll be playing video games for sure on the flight there.

JRR: It’ll be a long flight.

KEIYU: About 12 hours.

JRR: Have you ever been to America?

YASUNO: I’ve been there once; Ohio. I did home stay there at a small city for about a week. It was very country side, right in the middle of Ohio State. I was in high school, and it was my first time; when the host family came to pick me up and we got out on the freeway, it was very flat and you could see the horizon. I was really awed.

JRR: What was your host family like?

YASUNO: They were an average family, very nice, and they had a daughter a couple years older than me and a son younger than me.

JRR: Did you keep in touch with them?

YASUNO: Right after I came back I did, but it’s been a while.

JRR: Did you go there to study English?

YASUNO: The city I’m from is sister cities with the city in Ohio, so they had an exchange program and I joined. We had about ten people that went. They were very nice to us and took us to many places. We’d gather in the morning and go back to our perspective host families.

MAI: I’m from Saitama Prefecture.

JRR: Could you tell us about it?

JRR2: He only stays home though.

(Group laughter.)

MAI: Saitama… there’s nothing much at all. There are a lot of mountains.

JRR: Did you play in the mountains when you were little?

MAI: Yes I did. I’d run wild in the mountains.

JRR: When did you start staying home all the time?

MAI: Once I became an adult and got into the society.

JRR: What do you think about “hikikomori?” [A shut-in]

KEIYU: It’s wasting your life away.

MAI: If you think you’re spending your time wisely then it’s ok. Just don’t spend your time doing nothing.

JRR: There seems to be an increasing number of people who stay home all the time.

KEIYU: I’ve never been one, but if I had the chance, I wouldn’t mind being one. But for most people who turn that way, there’s probably a good reason. I think, usually they come across problems outside that they can’t solve, so it’d be good if they can find the inner strength to deal with those problems. I understand it’s probably hard to do so, and I think it’s probably not so bad to have some time to yourself. But instead of just staying home, playing around or doing nothing, if they can spend the time thinking about what they can do once they get over that phase, it’d be a positive thing. If they have the time to think positively, I think staying home is not a bad thing.

JRR: Do you get fan mails asking you for consultation?

KEIYU: Sometimes. But since my personality is rather noncommittal, I don’t really offer them a solution to their problems, since everyone is different and every situation is different. So instead of just giving them a solution that might not even work for them, I tell them not to worry too much, and stay positive.

JRR: Do you reply to them?

KEIYU: Not recently, since there are more and more fan mails; but in the past sometimes they’d ask me through my blog, and I’d make comments here and there.

YASUNO: I also get mails asking for advice. But since we can’t answer every single fan, we don’t reply any more. Instead, I’d integrate the suggestion in my blog, providing my insight on their problems. I don’t address it to anyone in particular, because a lot of the people actually worry about the same thing, so I just write what I think, and I would get mails saying that they agree with me.

YURA:: There are nice fans and not-so-nice fans as well. For example, I got a gift today, a electricity transformer.

JRR: Oh, for when you go to Germany.

YURA:: Yeah, it’s very considerate of them.

JRR: Could you each give a message to your overseas fans?

YASUNO: Kra first stepped out of Japan in 2007, starting with Korea. We would like to become more actively involved in going overseas. As we head to Germany at the end of 2007, in 2008 and 2009 we’d like to be able to have more people enjoy our music. Just as we spoke earlier about understanding lyrics, first of all, if everyone can listen to our music, attempt to feel what we are trying to convey and enjoy it, I think that alone would be great. Whether you come to our shows, or simply are enjoying listening to our music at home, we’d like you to have with us and our music.

KEIYU: Visual rock is a segment of Japanese culture. Although there are language barriers, I think there are a lot of fans from all over the world who try to understand the meaning of the songs. Even if they don’t get the exact meaning, they try to learn Japanese so they can understand more. I’m not good in English, but I’d like to be a little more fluent in it, so I can better communicate with the fans. I’d like the fans to look forward to Kra as a band, and also look forward to my personal language improvement.

MAI: It’s not easy to go back and forth between Japan and other countries, but with the availability of the internet, you are more than welcome to check out our website and blogs. There are audio clips and video clips that you can see as well. Feel free to come visit our sites, and with the advancement in technology, you can probably translate the whole site into your own language, so you’ll be able to understand our blogs. I’d like more fans to come and understand more about Kra.

YURA:: We’d like to be able to go to all the countries where our fans await us, and who are reading this message. Please look forward us being there. Thank you.

Interviewed by Misha.
Translated and transcribed by Christina.
Edited by Krystal
Thank you to PS Company and Kra.

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