WWC2007 Home
GO to Men
Competition Info
Match Info
LIVE Scorebox
Best Players
TV Schedule
Previous Editions

Press releases
An old story behind Japanese success in Volleyball

Team Japan

Tokyo, 9th November 2007 – In Japan, every time the hometown teams play, thousands of cheering fans completely fill the Competition Hall: each match, in any city, no matter where or when. The majority of them are young fans but it’s very common to see adults, elderly people and “mama-san”. Mama san are grown up women that had played Volleyball when they were younger. They still enjoy watching the matches and, at times, also playing.

The Volleyball history in Japan is very old.
At the beginning of the 19Th Century Volleyball arrived from USA following the US soldiers involved in Pacific areas. Japanese soon discovered that Volleyball was a perfect game for Asiatic: they took advantage of their quickness and agility. Other sports rely mostly on strength and power but the tiny Oriental people couldn’t be competitive. Therefore Volleyball spread fast all over Nippon (the native name for Japan) and became very popular. Both, men and women, started playing and thus an extraordinary tale was born.

At that time, Japan played with the 9-player system, while the international rules called for a 6-player team. It was necessary to adapt the Japanese game to the international competition in order for Japan to compete at 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games

Ten workers (women) of the same factory, Nichibo Kaizuka (a textile manufacturing), became the symbol of Japan. Those women, known as “Toyo no Majo” (Oriental Witches) were coached by Hirofumi Daimatsu. They practiced each days from 5.00 in the afternoon (after their job duty) until midnight in the factory’s gymnasium.
Daimatsu, so called “Oni coach” for his strict discipline and unrelenting conditioning drills (in Japanese Oni means demon) and those women succeeded to win 175 matches in a row (1964 Olympic Gold medal included).

Japanese have found in this story the features they love: the hard work, the perseverance and the suffering. That’s why nowadays, the Japanese Volleyball players are still so popular although the aren’t among the top world’s team.

The shining modern images broadcasted by Fuji TV, arouse enthusiasm in young fans but you can recognize an uncomfortable look on the elder people faces. The modern Japan is changing too fast for them: they grew up following slower rhythm and firmer values and this amazing speed and shallow happiness are bewildering.


Andrea Zorzi


This story is part of the special “Follow Me” project, signed by two times World Champion Andrea “Zorro” Zorzi. Videos and interviews on the FIVB World Cup 2007 are available form the FIVB home page (



More press releases
16.11.2007 FIVB Women’s World Cup 2007: gold medal for Italy. Italy, Brazil and U.S.A. qualified for Beijing Olympic Games  
15.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: Italy and U.S.A. qualified for Beijing Olympic Games  
15.11.2007 Eve, from the school to Volleyball World Cup  
14.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: the Italian masterpiece against Brazil, Serbs stop U.S.A.  
14.11.2007 At 37 I can’t retire volleyball now: Ndasaba  
12.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007. Nagoya will close the event on Friday  
11.11.2007 Fofao, a Volleyball Maestro  
11.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: the road rollers Italy and U.S.A. look at Beijing  
11.11.2007 Volleyball is all my life: Ruiz  
10.11.2007 Poland, beaten by Japan, loses its Head Coach: Bonitta goes back home  
09.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: Italy crushes Poland and still leads with U.S.A  
09.11.2007 Volleyball celebration, Happy birthday to Ortiz  
09.11.2007 Paula, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee  
08.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: Head Coaches facing the 3rd Round  
07.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: U.S.A. beats Brazil and leads the standings with Italy  
07.11.2007 Kenya between learning and Media pressure: Kirongo  
06.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: Brazil, Italy and U.S.A. stay on top, looking for Beijing  
06.11.2007 Haneef- Park “fly” in the World Cup sky  
05.11.2007 Osaka and Sendai to host the World Cup 2007  
04.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: Italy, Brazil, Serbia and USA lead the standings. 2nd Round will be staged in Osaka and Sendai  
04.11.2007 Volleyball dances Samba  
03.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: U.S.A. beats Cuba at the tie break in the big match of the day  
03.11.2007 Imperial Crown Prince Naruhito escorted by FIVB President Acosta and FUJI Television President Mr. Hieda presided the Opening Ceremony of 2007 Volleyball World Cup  
02.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007: first day of matches in Tokyo and Hamamatsu. Japan gets the first win  
02.11.2007 Women are always there  
01.11.2007 FIVB Volleyball World Cup 2007 on the starting line tomorrow in Japan. 12 teams spiking for three Olympic berths  
31.10.2007 The ant and the elephant  
31.10.2007 Heady mix awaits opening ceremony  
31.10.2007 Worldwide television coverage and high definition standard for the FIVB World Cup: 18 broadcasters will show the Volleyball stars to millions of viewers  
29.10.2007 FIVB World Cup: Japan aim for eight wins – at least  
26.10.2007 FIVB World Cup: the best Women’s teams on the planet ready to compete in Japan, targeting the three first places for Beijing  
21.10.2007 Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki rewards National Women Volleyball Team  
07.10.2007 Kenyan Women National team start training for the World Cup  
03.10.2007 Brazil conquer their 15th South American title  
02.10.2007 FIVB World Cup 2007: drawing of lots in Tokyo  
01.10.2007 FIVB World Cup 2007: the Women’s 12 entries are completed. Wild cards for Poland and the Dominican Republic  
30.09.2007 Women's Indesit European Championship: Italy celebrates first European Championship title and the World Cup entry  
23.09.2007 Cuba edged USA in five sets to win NORCECA Women’s and the entry to FIVB World Cup 2007  
13.09.2007 Asian Women’s Volleyball Championship: Japan crowned Asian champions, Thailand qualified for the World Cup 2007  
13.09.2007 World Cup 2007: Vabo chan attracts the crowds  
12.09.2007 Kenya wins Women's Africa Nations Championship and will go to the World Cup 2007. The newly launched web-site is on line  
11.09.2007 2007 Women’s African Nations Championship- Kenya Wins the trophy and secured World Cup berth  
24.07.2007 Fuji TV stages 100-day countdown to World Cup