Surely by now you’ve already heard the news. Sayashi Riho, the center of Morning Musume for the roughly the last 3 ½ years holds her graduation concert on the last day of 2015. On December 31, with all of Hello! Project in attendance at Nakano Sun Plaza, RihoRiho takes center stage for the last time. From what I understand, Sayashi had the option of graduating on the last day of the current “Morning Musume. ’15 Concert tour Aki ~ PRISM ~” on December 8 in Nippon Budokan, but instead she chose the smaller venue. Perhaps the drama of a “year-end to end all year-ends” proved too irresistible. When the time comes, Sayashi Riho will have served in Hello! Project for 1,824 days, or just shy of 5 years.
Thank you for always supporting Morning Musume.’15.
I have something that I must convey to you all.
I, Sayashi Riho,
will graduate from Morning Musume. on December 31 of this year.
It’s been about 5 years since the 6th grade, when I joined the Morning Musume. that I had admired since I was in kindergarten,
Starting from Tsunku♂-san, all of the numerous staff, all of the Morning Musume. and Hello! Project members, and even more so from all of the fans, by all of you I have been supported as I continued run forward.
However, in the midst of continuing to run forward, this year I began to think of my life from here on out.
Are there not other experiences that I must have, so that I can live strongly, as one person? Is how I have come to think.
I consulted many times with the management, and after taking the time to confirm the growth of my juniors the 12ki this year, I have come to the decision to graduate from Morning Musume.
In regard to my graduation day, when it will have been 5 years since I joined Morning Musume.,
as well as the last day of “Morning Musume.’15,” it has been decided that I will graduate at the Countdown Live on December 31.
For the Morning Musume. tour, December 7th and 8th at the Nippon Budokan will be my last performances.
I am sorry for the abrupt announcement.
I think I have probably surprised you.
But I have been worrying about this within myself up until now.
And from that this decision came to be.
I am thinking of going abroad to study dance and English from now on.
In doing so, I’ll get a lot of experience and grow from it, and I will do my best so that I may return quickly.
Although I only have two months until my graduation,
until then, I want to complete “Morning Musume.’15” together with the other members.
I want to run forward with all of my strength until December 31, so everyone, please treat me well!
Grad announcement at “Morning Musume ’15 Fall Tour ~PRISM~” in Hiroshima
Riho talks about her graduation IN ENGLISH
When I remember Riho during the Ninth Generation Auditions, I remember a girl with intense focus and incredible skills. Riho seemed to know she was good; she wasn’t afraid to show off the skills she acquired during her schooling at the Actor’s School Hiroshima (see: Perfume). Her clear talent made her an instant favorite among Morning Musume fans. I knew I wanted the girl to succeed in this audition because at the time the group was in the middle of a talent drain that would empty the group of it’s best singers and dancers in a matter of months. When Riho was introduced on January 2, 2011 I felt Morning Musume took a huge step in keeping itself stocked with talent for at least the next five years (look how prophetic that was!).
As Riho put Morning Musume on her shoulders (as we all wanted her to do), an interesting phenomenon developed. Riho’s smug-looking smile won her more fans, increased singing lines, and more photobooks (I’m still waiting for the first Ikuta Erina photobook); yet, resentment towards the young savior grew. I don’t get it. Sayashi Riho turned out more talented, interesting, and resilient than anyone dreamed in 2011. A 16/17 year-old girl captained one of the longest running and storied idol groups in Japanese history. Yet, many (Westerners) call her overrated. I think Riho was born to occupy center stage, and I’m grateful she spent some of the time at the center of Morning Musume stages.
I’d like to be very clear about Sayashi Riho: I’m sad to see her leave the group. Her performance intensity, talent, and professionalism will be difficult to replace. I don’t believe Morning Musume and Hello! Project wanted Riho to leave. She really seems to have made this choice on her own, with her own future in mind. I must commend the girl. Continuing with Morning Musume would have been the safe choice for her future.
Sayashi already accomplished her goals with the group. How strange to have accomplished your five-year old self’s dream (when I was five I wanted to be an airline pilot!). The group made its dramatic return to prominence. Morning Musume is once again one the best selling idol groups in Japan. With Sayashi Riho at center, Morning Musume exploded with an unprecedented five straight number one singles. The group dipped its foot into foreign markets with a successful solo concert in New York. Right now, the future looks pretty good for Morning Musume, Riho’s dream since kindergarten.
While no one wants her to leave Morning Musume, there’s a flipside to Sayashi Riho’s graduation announcement. If Riho continues with the group, she would definitely continue at center position. This means less lines for the other girls. This means less focus for the other girls. This means less development for the other girls. Less development means an even greater catastrophe down the line had Riho chosen to stay. The time will come when the new 12th generation will be the backbone of Morning Musume. And now, while most of the ninth and tenth generation girls are still intact, is a good time for them to get their start.
I say this with full seriousness and gravity: what about Nonaka Miki? When I mention the future of Morning Musume, I’m really saying Nonaka Miki. By all accounts, Miki possesses talent similar to Riho. Like Sayashi, Miki attended performing arts schools, practiced dance, practiced singing, and performed at an amatuer level throughout her childhood. But unlike Riho, Miki did it in the USA speaking English. Contrary to the YouTube J-Pop blockade, I really think Hello! Project sees its future in the world market. Nonaka Miki seems like the perfect girl to launch Morning Musume into the west with undreamed penetration. After overseeing her growth over the last year, after staying on a year to insure against sudden collapse, now is the time. Remember that huge step forward Morning Musume took with Sayashi Riho? Now is the time again; only this time it’s with Nonaka Miki.
Do you feel it now? Do you feel Sayashi Riho pushing Morning Musume toward its future? Do you really think she’s graduating for purely selfish reasons?
As for Sayashi Riho, I don’t think her continued participation in the group serves her any purpose. She’s now at the proper place and the proper age to decide on the course for the next few years, if not the rest of her life. Don’t feel too sad for her: her time with Morning Musume was (mostly) beautiful, magical, and filled with success. When you accomplish your goals, you leave on a high note. When you accomplish your goals, you find new lands to conquer. I wish Sayashi Riho the best, and I hope to see her somewhere in Los Angeles soon (see: Goto Maki). “Hentai ja nai yo!”