"I should have just started my life over, but no matter who I dated, I always thought of you. When I came back to Eitoku and saw you, I should have hated you, but I felt nostalgic. I realized then that I still loved you."
Sakurako Sanjo (三条 桜子,Sanjō Sakurako) was a student at Eitoku Academy. She was traumatized by her crush Tsukasa Domyoji during kindergarten. In high school, Sakurako set out to get revenge on Tsukasa but later decided to pursue him romantically. She had an uneasy friendship with Tsukushi Makino until she finally gave up on Tsukasa.
In kindergarten, she developed a crush on Tsukasa Domyoji, who rejected her because of her looks. The event traumatized her. Her family moved away to Germany for her father's job the following year. There she met her friend Thomas. Around age eleven, her parents died in a plane crash. Sakurako began living with her grandparents and they survived off her inheritance. She later used some of the money for plastic surgery.
At sixteen, Sakurako re-enrolled at Eitoku Academy as a first year high school student. She set out to get revenge on the F4 for calling her "ugly" when she was a child. Her looks were changed so much that they did not recognize her. However, she became jealous of Tsukushi Makino for being "fawn[ed] over" by the F4, despite not being particularly beautiful. She then thought of a way for revenge by "taking advantage of [Tsukushi]."
"I couldn't let the F4 fawn over a girl with looks like yours. Friends? You've got to be kidding. What use are friends? Since kindergarten I've lived to take revenge on the F4. To see them groveling at my feet. Finally, I saw a way to do it--by taking advantage of you. I have no more use for you. Get out of my sight, you ugly bitch."
Sakurako first met Tsukushi at Shizuka Todo's birthday party. She was being harassed by a sleazy director, when Tsukushi stepped in and forced him to leave her alone. Sakurako thanked her and then rushed off once the F4 showed up. Several days later, she approached Tsukushi at school asking her if she remembered her from the party. She then congratulated her on "going steady" with Tsukasa. Later that day, Sakurako went up to Tsukushi, who was surrounded by her classmates. When the girls invited Tsukushi to go dancing, she asked Sakurako if she wanted to join. She innocently replied "I couldn't go to a club. The next day, she told Tsukushi that she had always admired her and asked to be friends. To commemorate becoming friends, Sakurako invited her to her house.
After saying she was afraid of boys, Tsukushi introduced Sakurako to the F4. She pretended to be skittish around Sojiro Nishikado and Akira Mimasaka, even denying it when they called her "pretty." By the next day, she was acting more comfortable around the F4 and had completely won over Sojiro and Akira. That night, Sakurako went clubbing at Joliana where she was confronted by a group of girls for stealing one of their boyfriends. She insulted the girl, reducing her to tears. The next day, she noticed Tsukasa was down and asked him what was wrong. When he yelled at her, Tsukushi took up for Sakurako calling him "trash." She then became mad at Tsukushi for insulting Tsukasa. In the girls' room, Sakurako told her that she was in love with Tsukasa. Tsukushi then admitted that she was not dating him.
Sakurako later released the photos she had taken of Thomas and Tsukushi while she was passed out. That night, Tsukushi came to her house to confront Thomas. He revealed that Sakurako forced him to participate in her scheme. Having overheard, she did not outright admit to it though she did reveal that she was using Tsukushi. She then said "Get out of my sight, you ugly bitch." Refusing to kowtow to Sakurako, Tsukushi told her "Look at yourself in the mirror! Then you'll see what ugly is!" Once Tsukushi left, Sakurako cried saying "I'll never forgive her." The next day, she showed the photo to Tsukasa when he saw some students attacking Tsukushi. In a state of shock, he eventually walked away with Sakurako. That night, she attempted to seduce him but failed. He left to save Tsukushi.
Sakurako: "I thought you loved Tsukasa."
Tsukushi: "Why should I...?"
Sakurako: "Even when you said you loved Rui, it was really Tsukasa you loved. That's what I thought. And you're... You're the only one who can make him stay."
— Sakurako distressed about Tsukasa leaving Japan[src]
Sakurako felt remorse for hurting Tsukushi, confessing to her grandmother "I really have nothing at all. Not even a friend." When she went to school next, she was taunted by the students who had learned about her surgery. Tsukushi defended her, saying "What's wrong with buying looks?" Sakurako whispered "I'm sorry" several times to her. The next day, she thanked Tsukushi and voiced her admiration. She then said "I'm not giving up on Tsukasa," believing he would eventually choose her. A couple days later, Sakurako went to Tsukasa's island on Kazuya Aoike's boat. She hugged Tsukasa as soon as she saw him. That night, she insisted in staying with him and Tsukushi when she learned they were sharing a room. The next morning, Tsukasa left by himself on his jet, forcing everyone to return home on Kazuya's boat.
After hearing about Tsukushi choosing Rui Hanazawa, Sakurako confronted her saying "I guess this means you never considered Tsukasa boyfriend material." She then said that Tsukushi could no longer "stand in [her] way." That weekend, Sakurako followed Tsukasa around town, which annoyed him as well as her "sweet and innocent" act. She eventually got through to him, when she told him about her past. Tsukasa realized that they had a similar "warped way [...] of expressing affection." The two of them laughed together and he invited her to his house. Sakurako happened to see Tsukushi nearby watching them. She smirked, before following Tsukasa. At his house, they were drinking tea when his sister, Tsubaki Domyoji, came home. Sakurako introduced herself in her usual too "sweet" manner.
Later, Sakurako heard about Tsukushi being expelled. She said "I'll miss you so much when you're gone" with a smile on her face. Sakurako promised to keep in touch. A basketball match was later set up to determine Tsukushi's and Rui's fates. Sakurako with Yuriko Asai, Erika Ayuhara, and Minako Yamano served as cheerleaders for Tsukasa's team. The match ultimately led to nothing since Tsukasa ended it at the last second. Sakurako later learned about Tsukasa leaving Japan to move to New York, causing her distress. At school, she asked Tsukushi why she was not seeing him off. Sakurako revealed that she felt Tsukushi was actually in love with Tsukasa not Rui. She then told her "You're the only one who can make him stay." Tsukasa ended up coming back to Japan only a few days after leaving.
"When we went to Canada at New Years', you were tricked by those girls and got lost, right? When I saw Tsukasa as he ran out in the blizzard in search of you, I knew that I didn't have a chance."
Several days later, Sakurako was chosen to represent the first-year class at Teen of Japan. She suggested Tsukushi "should pull out," when she overheard her wavering about the contest. Sakurako then informed her about Ayano Kurimaki, who had "virtually been declared the winner." At Teen of Japan, Sakurako acted somewhat hostile towards Tsukushi, criticizing her for being excited about the prizes. In the first round, she choose a dress with a "daring cut." She passed on to the next round. The contestants' English ability was tested in the second round. Tsubaki described Sakurako's English as perfect but lacking refinement. Sakurako commented "And this is where Tsukushi's game comes to an end," while watching her during the second round. Tsukushi passed to the finals, while Sakurako was eliminated.
Sakurako later heard about Tsukushi borrowing a million yen from Tsukasa. Along with Yuriko and her friends, she boarded a plane to Vancouver, Canada, the same flight as Tsukushi and the F4. Sakurako told Tsukushi "You amaze me!," referring to borrowing money from Tsukasa. She followed the F4 and Tsukushi to Tsukasa's villa. The following night, Tsukushi was tricked by Yuriko into going out during a blizzard and Tsukasa went after her. Sakurako yelled at Yuriko "I'll never forgive you if anything happens to Tsukushi!" In the morning, Tsukushi and Tsukasa returned safely. Sakurako wanted to have Yuriko and her friends punished, saying "They'll only learn their lesson if they experience what Tsukushi did!" Her suggestion was to hang them by their ankles, which Tsukushi vetoed saying "Forget it."
Several days into January, Sakurako and Kazuya helped Tsukushi hide after she received another red card. She guessed that Tsukasa had confessed his feelings to her. Tsukushi was surprised that she was the only one who had not realized how he felt. Sakurako then said "How could I lose out to her?" She believed that Tsukasa was not behind the red card, feeling suspicious of Junpei Oribe. When the door rattled, Sakurako and Kazuya held it close while Tsukushi escaped through a window. After getting away from the bullies, she and Kazuya were unable to find Tsukushi. Sakurako then called Sojiro, who was unaware about the red card. Later, she went to visit Tsukushi and Tsukasa at the hospital. She was annoyed with Kazuya for following her. Junpei passed by them and she remarked on his good looks.
Shigeru: "But if I know Tsukushi, she'll pop home laughing one day."
Sakurako: "I guess... That girl is one tough cookie. No matter how mean I was to her, she always crawled back up."
Some days later, she and Kazuya walked up to Tsukushi. Sakurako made a comment about her appearing "haggard" lately. Tsukushi then asked the two if they wanted to go somewhere after school. They were interrupted by Tsukasa, asking Tsukushi about her disappearance from the hotel. Sakurako exclaimed "You mean you've gone that far?" After school, Kazuya asked Sakurako if she wanted to go somewhere. She declined, not wanting to be seen with him. Kazuya then said he was only being nice since she had no friends, to which she answered "The same goes for you." A couple days later, Tsukushi left school and disappeared. Sojiro walked up to Sakurako and Kazuya to ask if they had heard from her, but neither had. She asked him about Tsukasa, to which he said he was a "lost cause without Tsukushi."
The next day or so, Sojiro invited Sakurako to a party to "cheer up" Tsukasa. She was annoyed that he also invited Shigeru Okawahara, Tsukasa's ex-fiancée. Sakurako claimed that she "[had] nothing to do with this," to which Shigeru countered that she Tsukushi's best friend. The two girls then bickered until Tsukasa arrived. A fight soon broke out between him and Sojiro. Sakurako ended up fleeing the restaurant with Shigeru and Kazuya. Before Tsukushi returned, Sakurako and the others decided whom would lend her their a place to stay. They picked an apartment owned by Shigeru. Everyone greeted Tsukushi the next day. Sakurako, Shigeru, and Yuki Matsuoka then spent the night with Tsukushi. By this time, she and Shigeru had became friends after learning that had both tried to seduce Tsukasa similarly.
The girls left around dawn to get ready for school on time. Sakurako met Tsukushi near the entrance and asked her if she was free after school. She refused until Sakurako promised to help her find a well-paying job. After school, she dragged Tsukushi on a group date that she had set up earlier with Shigeru. The final group of guys included one whom resembled Tsukasa. They all attempted to act normally, but Tsukushi was unable to. The guy poured his drink on her, leading the girls to leave. Outside, they lost track of Tsukushi. Sakurako was unable to contact Tsukushi for two days. Akira and Tsukasa met up with her and Shigeru to ask about Tsukasa's look-alike. The girls were surprised to hear he was Tsukasa's cousin. Sakurako then guessed that Tsukasa had been harsh with Tsukushi over the group date.
Tsukushi and Tsukasa
That night, the group headed to Tsukushi's place. They were all happy to see her again. Tsukushi and Tsukasa began bickering despite the others' efforts. After the fight, they began discussing Tsukasa's cousin again. Tsukushi defended him, leading Sakurako to question if she "[had] a thing for him." Afterwards, everyone except Tsukushi went to Tsukasa's house. Akira told Sakurako that Tsukasa had a "complex" because Tsukushi and his cousin were from the "same world." She felt it was easier to be with someone of the similar background, to which Akira said "[Tsukasa] would still rather have Tsukushi." The next day, Sakurako and Shigeru ran into the guys from their group date. They revealed that they had been paid by Tsukasa's cousin to go on the date. Sakurako told Shigeru "Something about him smells."
The following day, Sakurako and Shigeru met with the F4 at a café. Sojiro and Akira explained everything about Tsukasa's imposter cousin. Eventually, Tsukasa left in irritation. Sakurako shortly noticed that Shigeru had disappeared.
During her childhood, Sakurako was called "ugly" and a "freak." The event prompted her to get plastic surgery after inheriting her parents' money. Following the surgeries, Sakurako was considered conventionally beautiful though more often called "cute." She had shoulder-length curly, brown hair which she usually put half-up. For her trip to Canada, Sakurako had curly hair straightened.
Personality and traits
Due to a traumatic event, in which Sakurako was repeatedly called "ugly" as a child, she had a twisted world view. She believed being beautiful was the most important thing and that "Ugly women [...] should get out of the way, or just die." She could be quite cruel to girls whom she thought were inferior to herself, such as Miho. Sakurako developed into a good liar and actress, being able to convince others that she was innocent and naïve. This was to her detriment as it made it hard for her develop real friendships.
Sakurako initially had a complicated friendship with Tsukushi, whom she admired her for being "brave and sure of herself" while also felt "inferior" to her. She was eventually able to be real self around Tsukushi and became a supportive friend to her. Through her, Sakurako was able to develop more friendships.
She is played by Kaori Sakagami in the 1995 film, Hana Yori Dango. Best known for playing the title character in Video Girl Ai, Sakagami now remains inactive in the business. Her portrayal has more similarities with Yuriko than Sakurako. She initially shows kindness towards Tsukushi, which turns to jealousy. Sakurako has had plastic surgery, including a nose job that is damaged by Tsukushi. She later refuses to join the excitement over Tsukushi and Tsukasa dating.
In Meteor Garden (2001), Li Zhen is a combination of Sakurako and Makiko Endo. She, however, resembles Makiko closer, including her personality and being a scholarship student. She develops feelings for Dao Ming Si (Tsukasa) and tries to sabotage his relationship with Shan Cai (Tsukushi), like Sakurako.
Like in the original Meteor Garden, Li Zhen from Meteor Garden (2018) is a combination of Sakurako and Makiko. Besides betraying Dong Shan Cai (Tsukushi), Li Zhen resembles Makiko's personality more. She remains friends with Shan Cai after being forgiven, unlike in the previous version.
She is portrayed by Kurisu Oto in the 2019 musical, Hana Yori Dango. Oto's portrayal of Sakurako is partially modelled after Sato's in the 2005 drama. One example being that the musical pairs her with Akira at the end. Sakurako also performs a solo, "Elegy of Beautiful Things."