Fujii Rio (18), sub-leader of Kobushi Factory (こぶしファクトリー), announced her intention to graduate from her group and Hello! Project this morning. Via a translated statement, the founding member of Kobushi Factory expressed desire to follow her childhood dream of working as a teacher or nurse. Rio, who is from Aichi, plans to graduate this summer with the Hello! Project Summer Concert Tour, which runs from July 15 in Osaka to September 2 in Hiroshima (the tour will stop in Aichi on August 26 and 27). Rio will continue activities with Kobushi Factory and participate in the “Live Tour 2017 Spring ~PROGRESSIVE~“, the 4th Kobushi Factory single release “Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa / Ee ja nai ka Ninja nai ka” (June 14), and the release of the “JK Ninja Girls” movie (July 17).
Fujii Rio originally took part in both the S/mileage second generation auditions, where she progressed to the final round and the Morning Musume 10ki Member “Genki Jirushi” Audition, where she progressed to the third round but retired to focus on the S/mileage audition. Rio’s mother is reportedly a fan of Tsunku and Sharam Q, which sparked young Rio’s interest in Hello! Project. In May 2013, the future Kobushi Factory member was introduced onstage as a member of the 19th generation of H!P Kenshuusei alongside notables Inaba Manaka (ex-Country Girls), Tanaka Karen (ex-Ru:Run / Zenryoku Shoujo R), and Inoue Hikaru (current leader of H!P Kenshuusei).
In 2015, Fujii Rio was introduced as a founding member and sub-leader of a new Hello! Project unit, Kobushi Factory, with groupmates Hirose Ayaka, Nomura Minami, Ogawa Rena, Hamaura Ayano, Taguchi Natsumi, Wada Sakurako, and Inoue Rei. With the new group, Riorio released one indie single, four major singles, one studio album, and one soundtrack album. At least for the immediate future, Kobushi Factory will continue as a seven member group.
Translation of Fujii Rio’s message (from UP-FRONT LINK)
I, Rio Fujii, will graduate Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory) and Hello! Project with the Hello! Project Concert tour of this summer.
Originally I love Hello! Project and I took the audition I aspired to become a Hello! Pro Kenshusei and to enter Hello! Project. When I became a member of Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory), inside me, it was the moment when a huge dream became reality.
From this moment, I recklessly ran into “I want Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory) to be more known by many many people!” but,
Last year, when I was a senior in high school and became a student preparing examinations,
I could not give up on my old dream of becoming a teacher or nurse.
I thought about the compatibility with Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory) activities.
I consulted the staff of the company, discussed with them,
I thought I wanted to devote myself into my studies,
And I decided to graduate at the end of the summer vacation when the new school semester will start.
To all the members of Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory), to all the people who always support us,
There are still many dreams that those 8 people have not achieved yet,
So I would like to apologize to graduate at this moment.
However, in order to graduate without regretting myself,
In order to achieve, even a little, dreams and goals for the 8 people,
I will use my whole energy for until the graduation, with great efforts.
Please continue to support Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory)
Kobushi Factory (Magnolia Factory)