Since IZ*ONE disbanded last month and the group’s Japanese line took a trip back to their home country, everyone has been wondering what’s next for Miyawaki Sakura. In a new interview with Japanese magazine ViVi, Sakura has finally revealed whether she intends to stay in Japan or continue her career elsewhere.

Earlier this month, Sakura surprised many fans when it was revealed that she’ll be graduating from HKT48. ViVi magazine was the first to drop the news in a mistaken leak of Sakura’s July cover captioned, “Sakura recently announced her HKT48 graduation.” Just days later, Sakura officially made the announcement at the showcase for HKT48’s 14th single.

sakurajapan_2
Sakura’s HKT48 graduation photo | @hkt48_official_/Twitter

I have an announcement to make. I will be graduating from HKT48.

— Miyawaki Sakura

Sakura first became one of HKT48’s first-generation members at the age of just 13, debuting after three months of training. By 2015, aged 17, she ranked in the top 10 at the general elections of AKB48—the main “48” group in Japan—reaching 3rd place in 2018. Until she joined IZ*ONE that year, Sakura spent a total of seven years as an active HKT48 idol.

sakurajapan_4
Sakura in HKT48 (2011) | AKS

As such, Sakura naturally has a strong connection to her homeland. However, South Korea also played a major role in her career. After securing 316,105 votes to become the no.2 finalist on Mnet‘s Produce 48, Sakura became known to the world as a member of IZ*ONE. Given how both countries have shaped Sakura into the star she is today, fans have been wondering where she plans to continue her career next.

sakurajapan_5
Sakura in IZ*ONE (2021) | Off The Record Entertainment 

Now, Sakura has finally revealed a tidbit of her future path. In her interview with ViVi magazine, Sakura was asked to share something about her upcoming activities with fans. According to translations from Japanese fan @fujii_itsuki, Sakura divulged, “After my graduation concert… I will leave Japan once more, with the intention to pursue a new challenge out in the world.”

sakurajapan_6
Sakura’s HKT48 graduation photo | @hkt48_official_/Twitter

While Sakura didn’t confirm that she’d be going back to South Korea after leaving Japan, many fans believe that will be the case. Some think she could be returning to her career as an actress, which she began in 2012 with Japanese television film Ano Hito no Ano Hi.

sakurajapan_7
Sakura’s HKT48 graduation photo | @hkt48_official_/Twitter

Others are convinced Sakura will be returning to South Korea to re-debut as a K-Pop idol. The former IZ*ONE star made headlines back in March when it was reported that she’d be joining HYBE, the label behind BTS and TXT. Shortly afterward, HYBE officials revealed, “Nothing has been decided yet,”—implying that they may be in talks to sign her to the agency.

sakurajapan_8
Sakura’s HKT48 graduation photo | @hkt48_official_/Twitter

HYBE it expected to debut a new girl group in conjunction with subsidiary label Source Music later this year as well as a female version of survival show I-LAND sometime between now and 2022. In the meantime, Sakura will be holding her online-offling graduation concert on June 19 at Marine Messe Fukuoka.