Haruka Nakagawa in Nankyoku Sei Translation
JKT48 – Nakagawa Haruka’s “My Method of Studying Indonesian”
Even if just 10 months passed since her transfer from AKB48 to JKT48, her Indonesian improved greatly, and Haruka can even interact with fans and talk on TV in Indonesian without problems. We asked her about her method of studying Indonesian and living in Jakarta.
The interviewer is Beat-san, who pencils the “Kata-Kata Indonesia” (Indonesian Words) serial in this magazine.
Born in Tokyo on February 10 1992, 21 years old. In December 2006 passes the AKB48 3rd audition, and debuts in the theater in April 2007.
Also active as member of “Watari Rouka Hashiritai”. She participates of course in Japanese TV programs featuring JKT48, but also Indonesian shows such as “JKT48 Missions” and the popular “Dahsyat” and “Hitam Putih”.
In “Fortune Cookie in Love”, released in Indonesia too at the same time as its Japanese counterpart on August 21, she is the song’s center.
Beat (below, B): Did you study a little Indonesian before going to Indonesia?
Haruka (below, H): I took lessons 3 times a week, one hour each. But I don’t study at all now. I only went to class twice after coming here.
B: But you’re getting better day by day.
H: Thank you very much.
B: Looking at your posts on G+ or Twitter, you make few spelling mistakes too, but what do you look at when writing?
H: Well, I look words up when I don’t know, but I usually write without looking at anything. But the fans often correct my mistakes. I learn through that too.
B:Removing vowels, or using abbreviations like many Indonesians do…you don’t do that do you. Even for people reading from Japan, they can easily copy and paste in Google Translate.
H: I don’t use them because they’d confuse me.
B: To get so good at writing without going to school is amazing. When I first went to Indonesia, 20 years ago, there weren’t Twitter or even SMS, and I had few chances to write.There were many Japanese that, even if they could talk the language, weren’t able to read or write it…
H:I have to read and remember when doing recording for new songs, so I became better at reading…I often read (Indonesian).
B: You’re already that good at writing, but you’re even better at speaking, right?
H: Well, hmm, I wonder…when I’m with the members, they’re like teachers to me, they correct me and give me advice a lot. The pronunciation is wrong, or the sentence order is wrong…
B: Oh really. You have to perform in the theater too, so pronouncing correctly is important too I guess.
H: If I don’t pronounce words well during recording, I must re-take it until I do…
B: When you’re told “this is wrong”, can you understand where the mistake is?
H: I’ve started to understand lately, but before even if they told me “actually it’s like -this-” I would say “well I’m doing it like -this-, am I not?” often (laugh) I was like “What’s the difference!?”
B: Yeah, that was the same for me too.
H: “L” or “Ng” are very hard. But now I can pretty much handle them too.
B: They don’t correct you much lately?
H: Yes, recording goes more smoothly and faster too.
B: Do you watch Indonesian shows on TV?
H: Yes, I do.
B: That’s how you get better, right? Even when you’re on TV, you understand when people joke with you.
H: Yes. It’s generally not a problem. In the beginning even if I was on TV I would stay in the back row, doing my best not to be talked to, but lately I can speak more, so I started talking on my own initiative too.
B: And they jokingly make fun of you too.
B: There are many “tsukkomi” (those that jokingly make fun of people with sharp/witty remarks), but people good at “boke” (acting silly/naive to be funny) are few, among comedians and normal people too. You might do well with this tsukkomi-attracting persona, I guess…?
H: Yes, I think it’s a very good persona here. I think that, maybe, I’m funny. I often get made fun of, but if they tell me “say this in Indonesian” I do it right away, and everyone has fun. In TV and during MCs too, “This girl is funny”, something like that.
B: To be able to make others laugh so much is incredible. Do you use pretty much only Indonesian in your everyday life now?
H: Yes, I came here with Akicha (Takajo Aki), but she has double membership with the AKB, so she’s not here often. She’s in Jakarta one week, and next time is 2 months later, something like that. So generally I’m only together with JKT members, and Indonesian’s the only language spoken.
B: Do you learn by talking?
H: Yes, if I don’t use a word I can’t learn it, nor know the meaning, so I talk with the other members when we have lessons, or learn by singing.
B: You’re especially good at using words in ways that even studying on books would not teach you.
H: When I was studying in japan, mainly using books, I would only use “basic phrases”, and didn’t understand at all. After coming here I feel I re-studied everything, with the members teaching me.
B: Do you use any books when studying Indonesian?
H: I did when I was studying in Japan, but here I don’t.
B: You’re learning Indonesian in Indonesian, directly from the members then.
H: That’s right.
B: Do you have work to do every day?
H: Lesson, recording, photo shooting, TV, etc…I’m busy everyday.
B: Do you often have work with the other members?
H: Generally, we’re always together when working.
B: What do you do during break time?
H: We all play and do silly things together, the others too always have this “being all together is the best!” atmosphere.
B: I see, so that helps even more in learning the language.
H: I have to be with the others, so I have to talk, it’s an environment that makes you learn right away.
B: Do you often meet other Japanese people?
H: There are a lot of them in F(x), where the theater is. Sometimes they call out to me, or come to see the show…
B: Thanks to JKT48’s popularity (Editor’s Note: locally), AKB48 is now very popular too in Jakarta, right?
H: That’s true, I’m really glad.
B: Japanese people in Jakarta were excited about it too, but why didn’t you participate in the 32nd single elections?
H: I wasn’t double member with the AKB, and I transferred here to focus on my activities in this group, so I withdrew with the reason that “I wish to focus on my work in Jakarta.”
B: But if you participated with Takajo-san the JKT popularity in Japan could have risen, no?
H: I had just arrived here, and didn’t do much yet, and I hadn’t been active in Japan for a while either…so I felt that doing both not 100% would be not good, and I wanted to narrow it to just one.
B: Do AKB members or friends in Japan contact you via Twitter?
H: We talk via phone sometimes, sometimes they ask me “when are you coming back?” and such.
B: Do you have such friends in Indonesia?
H: Hmm, pretty much only members, though sometimes they introduce me to their friends.
B: It would be nice to become friends with many other people too.
H: I think I probably would if I went to school, but I don’t feel like doing it here. I don’t like studying much.
B: Getting this good in Indonesian though you dislike studying…that’s impressive.
H: I get told that often, but not even I thought I would learn it so fast, but to have no other choice than speak that certain language…when people are in this situation, they can do it, or so I thought.
B: The environment, I see.
H: I couldn’t learn at all when I was in Japan. But when the environment changes, maybe people can learn more easily? And also because I hadn’t studied beforehand, it might have entered into my head more smoothly. That’s why I can’t speak English at all.
B: Didn’t you write you could, “a little”?
H: Yes, I wrote “a little”, but I really meant “little”.
B: You wrote “sedikiiiiit” (little bit) after all.
H: Just a very very little.
B: Do you memorize words? Or do you learn them naturally?
H: I don’t have a “word book” or something like that. “What does that mean?” “What’s that?”, that’s how I do it.
B: I see, if you can do that much it’s fast. You can already understand which are the words you don’t know.
H: Yes. In the beginning, even if I didn’t understand I would say things like “Yes, OK…” and it all started there. But (I learn it) with friends I get along well with, or girls I’m always together. There are some among the members too. I’m very good friends with Stella, she sometimes stays over at my house, and I do too. When I go to her place, there are her parents too, so I have to talk. Think a lot of it (becoming better at talking in Indonesian) is thanks to Stella.
B: How long do you think you will stay in Jakarta?
H: I haven’t really decided yet, but I’m thinking of focusing my activities here.
B: So you haven’t thought of a time limit or something similar.
H: Yes, I haven’t thought of a date at all.
B: Almost like you mean to stay your whole life!
H: (Laugh) I get told that often. “You look like you’ll stay forever.” Well, I don’t dislike this place at all, I love it, because it’s so fun.
B: What’s different than being in Japan?
H: The members (JKT48) are very “free” and unrestrained, and you can strongly feel the fans’ support. You feel that in the AKB theater too, but I feel the group has become a kind of distant presence.
B: They got too famous, I guess?
H: So coming here made me feel that again. Doing things while having fun and freely is the best, and fits me the best I think. Many people tell me “you’re shining so bright ever since you went to Jakarta”.
B: I think so too. What’s some fun place in Jakarta?
H: Hmm…I’ve been to lots of places. Amusement parks too; Dufan in Ancol…
B: Do you have free time for yourself?
H: Almost zero. But after going to photo shoots with members we go out somewhere on our way back, so I’ve been to all sorts of places.
B: What about food?
H: I cook myself, or go out to eat with the others…the latter is more frequent.
B: No problems with the local food?
H: I had at the beginning, but there’s nothing I can’t eat now.
B: What problems did you have?
H: I had originally problems with eating abroad…I got used to it now, but at first when the members said “Try to eat this” I’d be like “Noo, I don’t want it, I’m scared..” (Laugh) But now my body got pretty much used to it, and I’ve stopped getting sick, so I guess I’m OK now.
B: Your hobbies? Except work.
H: Eating…I have no particular hobbies.
H: So I just eat. Eating, watching TV..are my hobbies.
B: Without lessons it’d be hard to maintain your weight (Laugh)
H: Yes, it’s really difficult…
B: You don’t have a maid?
H: Nope. I cook by myself, and clean too.
B: It must be troublesome.
H: I lived alone in Japan too, so not really.
B: Do you buy ingredients in supermarkets with Japanese food?
H: I buy at Papaya or Grand Lucky, food courts under f(x).
B: You know more than me. I was always either at home or Blok M.
H: I think Blok M is an amazing district. It would be a great place for Japanese people too. There are all sorts of food, and you can rent DVDs too.
B: I heard you often go to Blok M’s “Kuukai”.
H: Hm? I got fund out?…seems so. I often go to Kuukai, Kaihoumaru, Echigoya. After work, it’s like “Shall I go eat at Blok M, or buy at Papaya and go home?” There’s plenty places to drink in that area, well I just eat, but many places are open until late at night.
B: What would you like to do in Jakarta?
H: Not really in Jakarta, but after coming to Indonesia, I haven’t been to Bali yet. I get often told “Why didn’t you go??” so I’d like to. It’d be nice if I could go for a JKT concert. There’s nothing in particular I’d like to do in Jakarta.
B: I guess it means you’re fulfilled as of now.
H: I suppose so, I’m doing many things already I guess?
B: Going back to Japan?
H: I used to go back once a month, but lately for some reason I rarely do.
(Interviewer note: she returned after this interview, for the August Tokyo Dome concert)
B: There’s not much work for the JKT48 in Japan?
H: Not really, we come for concerts, but now the JKT are busy here, and I participate too, so there’s no chance to go back. I don’t feel like taking a break to go back, but not doing it is no problem either. In summer Japan is hotter, it’s more convenient here…Before I thought I wanted to go back once a month, but now I have the members with me, and I don’t like flying. The flights lasts 8 hours, so they tell me “You can go back for 2 days!” but I usually reply “Hmm…(If it’s only) for 2 days, (Then I guess) it’s OK for me not to go!” And the chances to go back decrease. My family says that they miss me a lot.
B: Does your family come to Indonesia sometimes?
H: I am thinking of calling them, but there are not many chances. I really think I’d like them to come though. There are many things you can’t understand if you don’t see them, like how I am living, etc.
B: Have you ever read “Nankyoku sei” before?
H: Yes, (looking through the pages) it’s a very good magazine. Fun to read, really great. Oh, it’s Bali!! I want to go to Bali…
Special thanks to Dimasdw and Korocha-san for lending us the Magazine.