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Death of Maki Goto's mother followed downward spiral


Back in 2000, journalist Ryuji Watanabe had his first interview with Tokiko Watanabe, who is believed to have committed suicide by leaping from her home on the third floor. The interview took place shortly after her daughter Maki became the central figure of the pop idol group Morning Musume and their hit song “LOVE Machine” sold 1,600,000 copies.

At the time, Tokiko owned a small izakaya (pub) in downtown Edogawa. Watanabe continued to keep in touch with the mother for a year and a half and may be one of the few who knows about the woman whose daughter became a popular TV figure overnight.

The interviews that Watanabe recorded tell much about the experiences of the mother. On the day of the interview, the journalist visited the izakaya where Tokiko was busy preparing for the evening’s business. The uncommon name of the izakaya perked the journalist’s interest – he was told her late husband had come up with the name from a location where he had once gone rock-climbing and fell. Her husband passed away shortly after the izakaya opened.

“I didn’t want to start an izakaya, but my husband insisted. He managed to get the finances and set everything up… but now that I think of it, if it weren’t for his decision, I wouldn’t have been able to raise my children,” said Tokiko, who once had a dream of becoming a singer herself. “It’s hard to believe Maki commutes to work by train. And you’d think there would be free concert tickets for family and friends, right? Nope. I have to buy one myself and watch her performance among the fans. Her pay? She’s a salaried worker. I can’t say the exact figure but around 400,000 yen, which is a bit cheap, I say,” she said with laughter.

Asked if Maki would live on her own once she entered high school, the mother answered that her daughter preferred to stay at home, which was her wish as well. Tokiko also mentioned that she wanted her daughter to complete her education and at least get a high school diploma. Apparently, Morning Musume had certain regulations about discussing their work with outsiders including family, and Tokiko said didn’t discuss the subject with her daughter very much.

On a different date, Watanabe went to see the mother for another interview, and bumped into Maki’s younger brother Yuki, then 13 years old. “You want a picture of my sister, don’t you? Not for free, though. You want to buy one for 50,000 yen?” No one would’ve imagined that the boy would later make his debut as a singer only to end up serving a prison term for robbery and assault. Tokiko refused to be interviewed in 2001 when Maki dropped out of high school. Heavily intoxicated, she told Watanabe to get lost, shouting that society made her daughter quit school.

After her brother’s arrest in 2007, Maki was forced to stop all activities in the entertainment business and made her comeback as a singer in 2008 with a different agent. In the meanwhile, her mother Tokiko developed liver problems and had to close her izakaya in 2009.

Watanabe comments on how cheerful Tokiko appeared at the time of their first interview. Upon hearing about her death, according to the journalist, he felt as though she had "fallen from grace."

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"that society made her daughter quit school" she still had the final decision. Nobody forces you to become a singer, model, etc.

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It still has not been ascertained that Goto's mother committed suicide. The media should not be so careless.

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Wow, pretty raw deal. Husband dies in a rock climbing accident leaving her with two kids and an unopened izakaya financed by loans. I'm surprised Maki gets paid $50K a year considering how much revenue MM pulls in, plus having to commute and her mom having to buy tickets herself. Just goes to show you need to pull the strings to make the big money.

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I'm surprised Maki gets paid $50K a year considering how much revenue MM pulls in, plus having to commute and her mom having to buy tickets herself.

This was in 2000, I'm sure she makes more now.

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stay classy yuki. lol

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400,000 yen salary doesn't surprise me much... the girls of MM are just puppets on strings. The producers could pick almost anyone off the streets and make them a MM. Some of the girls are smart enough to make MM a platform though and move on to bigger things after they graduate.

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Yes, I wondered what the "unusual" name was, too. Can anyone find it?

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It's called Fukuroda no Taki (袋田の滝).

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I dont buy this.

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What is so unusual about 'Fukuroda no Taki' that it "perked" the journalist's interest? dead end rice field waterfall? rice field bag waterfall?

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two kids

Four kids. Maki has two older sisters along with her younger brother.

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Kyotovalentine, you don't know much Japanese? "Fukuroda-no-taki Falls , said to be one of the most famous falls in Japan, is 120 m high and 73 m wide, stopping at four different levels on the way down. The fall also is called "Four-Time Falls" as it reflects four seasonal beauties such as fresh spring green, red leaves of autumn or icefall in winter."

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The producers could pick almost anyone off the streets and make them a MM

Tsunku had a real eye for talent, and for discovering rising superstars. He had scope to see the big picture, already imagining years into the future what they would become. They were certainly not "picked off the street." They underwent try-outs, and then have to endure a 3 day dance rehearsal camp. Sometimes a girl is chosen, but fails to succeed at the 3 day camp, and so they are thrown out of the group as quickly as they were in.


Out of 5 girls, only Maki Goto succeeded in becoming member the group. You can see the reaction of the 4 other girls as they are told they will NOT be chosen. Must've been awkward for Maki, and really sad to see those girls cry tears of sadness.

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