A Revelation! Why Sachiko Suzuki of “Wink” Became a Caregiver in Tokyo | FRIDAY DIGITAL

A Revelation! Why Sachiko Suzuki of “Wink” Became a Caregiver in Tokyo

Special Interview: Five hours of karaoke in the fifth grade / A successful career that started with five customers / The truth about the disappearance case / A promise to Shoko Aida / Debut as a caregiver in secret

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While working last summer, she obtained her first-level nursing care worker training (equivalent to the former Helper Level 2). She utilized the power of her singing to bring smiles to the faces of elderly people with dementia.

“For a while after my debut, I was not popular at all. I even sang on top of a box of oranges on the roof of a department store or beside a supermarket as housewives with shopping bags under their arms glanced sideways at me as they passed by. I’ll never forget an event in Niigata where there were five people in the audience! Even so, I was really nervous (laughs).

That all changed when our third single, “Ai ga Hattemanaeru” was featured in “This Week’s Spotlight” on “The Best Ten” (TBS). The campaign venue, which had been empty until the previous week, was now packed (laughs). There were times when events were canceled because there were too many people. Shoko and I didn’t really understand the situation we were in, so we just laughed and said, ‘I wonder what’s going on,’ and ‘That’s scary.”


Sachiko Suzuki, 53, aka “Sachin ” of Wink, who dominated the idol scene from the late 1980s to the 1990s, fondly remembers her debut. She and her partner Shoko Aida (52) debuted as a female duo in 1988 with the single “Sugar Baby Love.” Following the big hit of “Ai ga Tomaranai” (Love Never Stops), they dominated the hit charts the following year, winning the Japan Record Award for “Loneliest Tropical Fish” (1989). It became a social phenomenon.

“I was happy to look back on it now, but at the time, it was a big hit. Looking back on it now, I’m happy about it, but at the time, I was known as a “Daimajin” and when asked to “do that” off stage, I would say, “I’m too embarrassed to do that!” I was too embarrassed to do it! The environment changed drastically when “Ai ga Tomaranai” became a hit.

I used to travel by train, but now I have a car to take me home, and I basically have no private life. I was afraid to even go out because of the fans who were waiting for me in front of my house. My youth was lost when Wink came out into the world, and “Sachiko Suzuki” disappeared for a while.”


The starting point of her career as a singer was when she heard Pink Lady’s “Inspector Pepper” when she was in the second grade of elementary school. She loved singing anyway, and would leave school with her school bag on her back, humming “Akai Fuusen” (Red Balloon), an original song she had written himself. When she was in the fifth grade, she bought an 8-track karaoke set with his New Year’s money.

“The younger generation may not understand the term “8-track,” but it was a large, white tape that was a bit heavy, and you just slammed it into the deck (laughs). The 8-track tapes cost 1,500 yen for four songs each. It was not cheap for a child, but I saved up my allowance and bought more little by little.

At the time, karaoke was strongly perceived as something for the elderly, and the 8-track tapes contained only enka songs, not pop songs that I wanted to sing. Even so, I sang songs like Junko Yagami’s “Mr. Blue – My Earth” and Masashi Sada’s “Sakiamori no uta” (Song of the Warrior).”

Embarrassed, she kept her love of karaoke to herself at school. Her dream for the future was to become a day-care center mother. On Saturdays, when classes ended in the morning, she would use her room as a stage and sing for five or six hours straight.

“I was the only one singing. Even after I started performing with Wink, I would go to karaoke after the concert. Karaoke is a big part of my life.”

Her debut came, surprisingly, from an audition for a gravure magazine. Sachin won the grand prix, and at the age of 18, she knocked on the door of the entertainment world, forming the group Wink at 19. After eight years of activity, Wink abruptly announced in 1996 that they would cease their activities. Since then, Wink has made a one-night-only comeback on the 10th, 20th, and 30th anniversaries of their debut, although it has only been a one-off event.

“Wink is still irreplaceable and important to me. That’s why I’ve always regretted the fact that I had to stop performing so abruptly, and that I was never able to see my fans again. I am glad that we were able to hold a small event for the 30th anniversary in 2018, and I was able to express my gratitude to the fans who came to see us again. Shoko and I laughed about it. But times have changed. As long as Shoko and I are connected, I think we can do something fun even after I become a grandmother.”


As is the fate of all female duos, there were reports of disagreements in the early days of their activities, but the two still keep in touch.

“Thirty years have passed since Wink was formed, but my initial impression of us as shy and similar has not changed. We are too busy to contact each other often these days, but every year we send each other messages on LINE on our February birthdays, which are one day apart, and on April 27, the anniversary of our debut.

At the 30th anniversary event, we had a launch party at Juryoen, and we both moped around saying, “I’m so happy for you,” but it didn’t feel like it was our last time together. It didn’t feel like the last time. We said, “Goodbye, see you later.”


After Wink’s hiatus, she continued her solo entertainment activities, but her environment and state of mind changed with the Corona disaster. “I worked at a nursing home in Tokyo for about a year until February of this year,” says Satchin, “and obtained my first nursing care qualification (training for entry-level nursing care workers).”

I was moved by the fact that I was in my 50s and had more time on my hands because of the Corona disaster. I had no contacts, nothing to write for a resume, and I had never been to an interview before. Everything was unknown to me, and it was hard to find the courage to do it, but after much struggle, I took the first step. The staff warmly accepted me, and my days of challenge began. I am very grateful to have been treated as Ms. Suzuki. I was very touched when everyone presented me with a hand cream on my last day of work.

I was very moved when I received a hand cream as a gift from everyone on my last day of work. I knew it from the beginning. I was bored and never continued with anything except singing, so it is truly a miracle that I was able to continue for a year. It was a tough and demanding job, but I think I was able to learn the importance of “normal” while being touched by the bonds of others.”


At the peak of Wink’s career, Sachin had a tendency to “disappear whenever she felt like it,” and even dropped out of high school.

She said, “Some of today’s idols have been active for a long time, but back then it was like they sold like fireworks and disappeared after three years or so. No matter how much I was praised, I myself was surprisingly calm. Because once you reach No. 1, there is no way to climb to the next level. All that was left was to fall. I have disappeared alone, and I have disappeared with Shoko. I think the statute of limitations has expired, but there was also a time when the two of us ran away from a TV station just before a live broadcast. At the time, I felt different and had no choice but to run away.

We called a cab to go home to get some money, bought some food, and went to Ikaho Onsen in Gunma with a handy karaoke machine that we could carry with us. I returned to the site the next day, so I stayed only one night. Unfortunately, I left my handy karaoke in the cab, which was very important to me. I couldn’t find it after all. I wonder if the cab driver didn’t notice (laughs).”

Sachin, who has been called the “idol who never smiles” for her expressionless performances, seemed to really enjoy laughing. Even though she has passed her fiftieth birthday, she says energetically, “There are still many things I want to do.”

“It is a common saying that you only live once, but at my age, it really hits home. When I think about it, I want to do as much as I can now. Whatever the outcome, it would be great if people enjoyed it. I am not a good singer, but I really love singing. So I have a dream to someday visit nursing homes and sing for the elderly, and when I turn 60, I hope to put on a red sparkly sequin dress and do a dinner show (laughs).”

That enthusiasm is about to return, but at a different time and place.

Since her debut, she has traveled all over Japan, from Tohoku to Nagoya to Osaka, for campaigns and other events. Even though I wasn’t selling well, I was very busy,” said Satchin.
She won the Record Award for “Lonesome Tropical Fish,” and was thrilled when “Pink Lady,” whom she adored, introduced Wink at the NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen.
A quick shot during a break from recording “Anata ni Wink” (’89-’91). It was the first radio program for the duo, and was broadcast nationwide.
Sachiko Suzuki talks about “Wink” and “Satchin
Sachiko Suzuki talks about “Wink” and “Satchin
Sachiko Suzuki talks about “Wink” and “Satchin

From the June 10, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Interview and text Masao Kurihara Photographed by Shogo Murakami

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