Special Interview

Ms. Sayuri Inoue from Nogizaka 46

Ms. Sayuri Inoue from Nogizaka 46

Ms. Sayuri Inoue

One of the founding members of the idol group Nogizaka46; born on December 14, 1994; sun sign: Sagittarius; from Saitama Prefecture; blood type B; active as a member of Nogizaka46, and an actress in the play "Teiichi no Kuni (Teiichi's Country)."

Profile of Nogizaka 46

The idol group founded in 2011 as the official rival of AKB48. Since the release of their second single, their 15 singles have topped the Oricon Weekly Chart one after another. Their latest single is "Sayonara no Imi" (The Meaning of Goodbye).

In order to make the Tokyo 2020 successful, it is essential that young people be involved in various volunteer activities. To give them a better understanding of volunteer activities and to encourage them to make them a part of their lives, we interviewed Nogizaka46's Ms. Sayuri Inoue, an idol who is a member of their generation and is active as a volunteer.

Vol. 1
Motives for Volunteering

Motives for Volunteering

––– We've heard that you've been active as a volunteer, so we wanted to interview you for the website "Tokyo Metropolitan Volunteerism Navigation."

Inoue :Thank you for the opportunity to be here.

––– How did you get interested in volunteer activities?

Inoue :My mom works in a care facility. In my family, I have older brothers; but I'm the oldest daughter, so I look after my younger sister. That's why it was natural for me to become interested in working as a volunteer.

––– Do you have any experience with caregiving and social service jobs?

Inoue :I've visited care facilities and seen what it's like to work in them, and I thought it was really cool.

––– When people visit these care facilities, most of them just think, "That's a tough job," and that's all, but you actually pursued the matter further.

Inoue :I, too, have fragile health and was often in the hospital, so that's why I felt frustrated. People around me were working hard, but I wasn't doing anything. So I really wanted to do something.

––– When was your first volunteer job?

Inoue :When I was in the first or second year of junior high school, I signed up during a recruitment campaign for volunteers at school. Volunteers from other schools also joined to help at a center for people with disabilities. They showed us what kind of jobs people with disabilities do.

––– How did you feel about the volunteer activity?

Inoue :I felt reasonably self-confident, but things didn't go so smoothly. The volunteer activity was supposed to last for several days, but I fell down on the job on the first day. But having experienced what it's really like to work as a volunteer, I started to think there was something more that I could do.

––– So after that, you started to get involved in various volunteer activities.

Inoue :I helped out at nursery schools and elementary schools. For example, at a nursery school, I gave the kids their meals, put them to sleep, and did their hair. That was hard work, but it was a lot of fun.

––– You also taught computer skills to elementary school kids as a volunteer.

Inoue :That was when I was in high school. I studied at a commercial high school, and there was a notice on the bulletin board recruiting volunteers to teach kids computer skills. I went to an elementary school to do the teaching.

––– You were checking the school bulletin board pretty often.

Inoue :Yes, I was (laugh). When there was a recruiting notice on the school bulletin board, I always volunteered.

––– I see. You also did volunteer work after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

Inoue :As a volunteer, I cleaned and restored photos swept away by the tsunami.

––– You actually went to the area hit by the earthquake?

Inoue :Yes. There was a recruitment notice in my high school, and I went there to transport supplies. I felt like I couldn't really understand the situation there unless I went there myself.

––– Most high school kids would want to get part-time jobs instead of doing volunteer work, wouldn't they?

Inoue :I also worked part-time. I wanted to go to a university, but it would have been a hardship to pay the entire amount of my tuition fee, so I decided to save up some money on my own.

––– Did you want to work in the entertainment industry?

Inoue :I was unsure about what I wanted to do until my second year of high school, whether to go to university to study social work or whether to work in the show business.

––– And how did you finally come to a decision?

Inoue :My mom encouraged me to do the things I really wanted to do, so I told her, "If I don't pass the audition for Nogizaka46, I will go to a university." I went on a campus tour, and immediately after that, I took the final audition for Nogizaka46, and I was chosen.

And you still work as a volunteer during your breaks from your Nogizaka46 activities.

Inoue :Yes. I've been helping out at a care facility for the disabled and a nursing home for the elderly. I tell the management agency when I want to do volunteer work.

An Agriculture Volunteer Job in Nara

Ms. Sayuri Inoue, who cheerfully talks about her volunteer experience.

––– You've also joined an agriculture volunteer program.

Inoue :I've been volunteering with my mom. It's a lot of fun to help out the farmers. Most volunteers are in their 40s or 50s, and there aren't many young people; so I hope that more young people will do volunteer work on farms.

––– Do you get along well with people in their 40s or 50s?

Inoue :Yes, I was doing so (laugh). When the work at the farm had finished, I went to a hot spring with everyone else. I tried eating fresh-picked tomatoes and green peppers, and I found out that fresh green peppers aren't bitter. I also helped with picking up litter.

––– Where did you do that?

Inoue :At Nara Park, the other day.

––– You went to Nara??

Inoue :Yes! That was the only place I could go on that day.

I Hope That More Young People Do Volunteer Work

Ms. Sayuri Inoue, who sends message to the people of the same generation.

––– How do you get information on volunteer opportunities?

Inoue :I check a website that provides information on volunteer jobs, and I sign up wherever I can go on that day.

––– When you talk about your volunteer activities with your friends, how do they react?

Inoue :When I talked about my volunteer job on the farm with Nogizaka46's Maya Wada and Rina Ikoma, they said, "It sounds like a lot of fun! Tell us the next time you volunteer."

––– Nogizaka46 has become really popular, so it must be difficult to take time out of your busy schedule to do volunteer work, but you do it anyway.

Inoue :I feel anxious when I have nothing to do. You only live once, so you should do whatever you can. There are more and more volunteer activities that you can sign up for easily.

––– Do you want people your age to know more about volunteer work?

Inoue :Volunteer jobs at care facilities require physical labor, so they are hard for people of my mom's generation to do. I want more young people to help out. I think it's important to get them interested in volunteer work. It's easy to apply for positions on the Internet, so I want more people to join volunteer activities.

Written by Shinnosuke Onuki

to be continued