In the summer of 2011, Sakura Oda took part in the S/mileage 2nd generation audition, but did not pass. In November 2011, she was added to Hello! Pro Egg, a Hello! Project trainee group, which was later renamed "Hello! Pro Kenshūsei".
In the middle of 2012, Sakura Oda participated in the 11th generation audition for Morning Musume, in which 7,000 applicants took part. She advanced to the final round, with 5 other girls. On September 14, 2012, at a public Generalprobe of Morning Musume 15th Anniversary Concert Tour held at Harmony Hall Zama in Kanagawa (Sakura's home prefecture), it was announced that Sakura Oda was the only one chosen to join the group.