You know, certain K-Pop idols have some truly amazing feats under their belt. Like, no joke, it feels surreal. I’m constantly remembering things, like how Belle from Kiss Of Life was already a talented songwriter for other idol groups before she debuted at 18. Or how Huh Yunjin of Produce 48 was going to go to Business school right before she got the call from HYBE for LE SSERAFIM. Speaking of, why was Sakura a pro-wrestler?
Okay so, Sakura Miyawaki, ex-Iz*One and current LE SSERAFIM, is an enigma. Sakura did have a wrestling career but to explain it simply: It was just a short stint for a TV Series called Tofu Pro-Wrestling where she just played herself, back when she was part of HKT48. Not to be confused by AKB48, another Japanese idol group that she was also part of. And yes, this means she was also an idol and an actor, when she wasn’t managing a gaming channel, of course.
I swear the woman has lived a thousand lives and we’ve only scratched the surface. But Sakura’s wrestling career was actually pretty legit. Like, she was the main lead and appeal for the wrestling tournaments considering how good she was at it. Joshi Wrestling often has ‘female entertainers’ as their athletes so it wasn’t surprising to see Sakura take up the role, at the time. But still, let’s dissect LE SSERAFIM Sakura’s wrestling career (and other endeavors) in another round of K-Pop Karousel!
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Antifragile: LE SSERAFIM Sakura’s Pro-Wrestling Career?
In hindsight, Sakura joining a group, whose concept is all about being fearless baddies, is not a surprise. Like, of all the idols that can follow that up with actual proven fighting skill? Sakura is probably on top. She’s fighting for that position with Somi aka Kung-Fu Extraordinaire, but still! A Pro-Wrestling career is nothing to joke about.
But how did Sakura end up here? Well, Japanese idol groups work very differently compared to Korean ones. For one thing, there is the whole graduation system with huge groups like AKB48, where multiple idols join young and then ‘graduate’ to doing their own thing later on. But while you’re part of the group, fanservice is a huge thing. So, they’ll do a bunch of variety programs and even acting. It’s all part of the appeal.
Which is probably why Sakura was recruited into JWP Joshi Proresu, which is a side branch of Women Pro-wrestling in Japan. Joshi wrestling focuses more on having already famous women duke it out in curated wrestling tournaments. So, that includes actresses, musicians and, yes, idols. They usually do it in a drama format, so there is a story. But the actual wrestling is real.
So, the plot of Tofu Pro-Wrestling was that Sakura’s father, a tofu shop and dojo owner, really wanted his daughter to go into Pro-wrestling. But obviously, she wasn’t interested until one day, her father dies and leaves his shop and dojo to her.
But another thing he passed on to Sakura was a huge debt that could only be repaid if she became the champion in the WIPW, or the World Idol Pro-Wrestling tournament. And so, she reopens the dojo with her dad’s assistant, and gets to work.
Sakura Miyawaki: What Hasn’t She Done?
Okay, so if you understood all of that, you have realized that not only was Sakura an idol and a Pro-wrestler, but also an actress. However, this wasn’t her only acting gig. She has been in a horror movie, multiple high school gang dramas and even made cameos in bigger series. Like, her range is so impressive? Unreal.
But in general, I think Sakura Miyawaki is simply super talented and knows how to use her strengths to their fullest. Despite starting out pretty low on the HKT48 ranking lists, she managed to climb her way into the top 7 members at least four times. She said that she exaggerated her personality on purpose so that she could stand out. And boy, did that work.
At that point, trying out for Produce 48, a Survival Group competition in Korea, just felt like a natural progression. Likely she wanted to continue doing music and dance, but wanted to explore a more international sound. And so, she made it to the lineup for Iz*One, a group that went on to be way bigger than anyone anticipated. And Sakura was one of its most popular members.
But Iz*One was temporary, and so it disbanded and Sakura went back to Japan where she started doing a bunch of solo promotions. My girl was modeling, being recruited in ads for multiple international brands and even had her own makeup line. She was pretty much set for life. But then, LE SSERAFIM was announced and Sakura came back to join her fellow Produce 48 members, Kim Chaewon and Yunjin.
And the rest? Well, it’s history. With LE SSERAFIM slated to perform at Coachella this year, it’s clear that the band is only going to get bigger. Sakura might not be a wrestler anymore, but she’s still on top!