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Japan’s fastest-growing fan base: female superfans

The way female fans cheer and wave eagerly from the stands uchiwa (paper fans) and drawing for their favorite stars, it’s easy to mistake a men’s volleyball match in Japan for a concert featuring the latest idol pop group. Especially since many fans follow their favorite players as religiously as J-pop fans follow their favorite idols.

In Japan, women still outnumber men when it comes to playing sports. In a 2023 survey by Japanese sportswear manufacturer Venex, about 60% of male respondents said they consider themselves sports fans, while among female respondents the figure was about 40%.

However, men in volleyball arenas are a notable minority. More than 80% of fans at domestic men’s leagues are women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, according to Masaaki Okawa, the vice president of the V. League, Japan’s professional volleyball circuit.

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