In a heartfelt blog post on the 29th, Yui Kobayashi, a prominent member of Sakurazaka46, revealed her decision to graduate from the group. The announcement follows a series of performances at Chiba's ZOZO Marine Stadium on the 25th and 26th of the month.
Reflecting on the past year, Kobayashi expressed, "This past year has been full of excitement, and after 8 years as an idol, I've truly experienced a lot." Contemplating her journey, she suggested, "Perhaps I've exhausted all the experiences I can have here. When I consider the increased experience and think about the future, I believe the time has come to convey these words to everyone."
To commence the new year in 2024, Kobayashi disclosed plans for a graduation concert at Tokyo's Yoyogi First Gymnasium on January 31 and February 1, with her official departure set for February 1. Despite the limited timeframe, she conveyed her intentions to engage with fans and express gratitude, stating, "Even in this brief time until graduation, I'm preparing opportunities to talk with you all and convey my appreciation. So, please let me stay together with all the buddies (fans) until the last day."
As a first-generation member who joined Keyakizaka46 (now Sakurazaka46) in August 2015, Kobayashi played a crucial role with her exceptional dance skills and expressive abilities. Notably, she took on the center position during NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen at the end of 2018 in place of Yurina Hirate, who was on hiatus. The recent graduation of Mizuho Habu leaves Kobayashi and three other first-generation members in the group.