December 17, 1984 — Tokyo
1997/09/14 ~ 1999/04/18
Fukuda: To me, Morning Musume is a family. If I was to compare it to the family in “Sazae-san“… It’s like Abe Natsumi is Sazae, I’m Masuo, Nakazawa Yuko is Namihei, Ishiguro Aya is Fune, and Iida Kaori is Tama. (laughs) Nakazawa-san, the warm head of the family. Ayappe, the one who supports the family from the shadows. Nacchi, the heroine. Iida-san, the mascot character. And me, the son-in-law… The position of someone who’s not blood-related — someone who’s a bit of an outsider. (laughs)
— For the first time in 18 years, the five of you recently got the chance to meet once more.
Fukuda: There was no weirdness whatsoever when we were reunited. No one said “long time no see!” or anything — we just started talking to one another as if the last time we’d seen each other was yesterday. That lack of any distance between us felt very family-like.
— Was it a big decision for you to appear on so many stages together with everyone for the 20th anniversary?
Fukuda: If anything, I was surprised by how happy me being there seemed to make everyone. I was glad about having so many people welcoming me back, and it was fun having these conversations with my friends and family. “How did I do?” “You were great!“
When they first approached me about it, I of course immediately gave them my OK. But as it’d been such a long time since my graduation, I also felt worried if I would really be able to do it. I may have been working as an artist, yes, but it’d been ages since I had been in Morning Musume. “Can I still do this?” It’s a group after all, and in a group you have to match your choreography and your backing vocals and the rest of it with everyone else. I had a strong feeling of not wanting to drag the other members down with me.