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8 Japanese Volleyball Team Facts To Know, Including Their Favourite Characters In Haikyuu!!

Japanese volleyball team facts

The Japan men’s national volleyball team has been turning heads at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, especially after they pulled off Haikyuu!!-esque moves such as the coordinated fake spike by outside hitter Ran Takahashi and team leader Yūki Ishikawa.

Aside from their excellent plays, here are 8 Japanese volleyball team facts that will give you more reasons to stan these young stars.

1. Japan won against Venezuela the first time in 29 years

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Japan won against Venezuela on 24th July, at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, for the first time in 29 years. The last time they won against Venezuela was at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. They also managed to overcome Venezuela in straight sets.

2. Nishida played through two injuries at the Games

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Yuji Nishida – Japan’s national team key player and opposite spiker – sprained his ankle just 10 weeks before the Tokyo Olympics. Furthermore, a month before the Games, he had also injured his thigh muscle. Despite not having recovered fully, Nishida was determined to win a medal for Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

3. Nishida was the first Japanese player to score 30 points in an Olympic match

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Even with his injuries, Yuji Nishida was the first Japanese player to score 30 points in an Olympics volleyball match, during the Japan v. Iran game. Furthermore, he was also the first volleyball player to have accomplished this feat at the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

4. The members are Haikyuu!! fans

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Haikyuu!! is the hottest volleyball anime and manga by author Haruichi Furudate. The story follows Hinata Shōyō, an energetic and cheerful young boy who strives to become a great volleyball player.

japanese volleyball team - collaboration
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During the Haikyuu!! x Japanese Volleyball Stars Special Talk Show, members of the Japanese national volleyball team – Yuji Nishida, Masahiro Yanagida, Akihiro Yamauchi, and Masahiro Sekita –  were invited to talk about all things Haikyuu!!.

japanese volleyball team - yuji fan of haikyuu!!
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In an interview with JUMP, Yuji mentioned that although he doesn’t read a lot of manga, the storyline of Haikyuu!! resonated with him as a professional volleyball player. He also mentioned that even though some scenes are exaggerated, the bulk of the story is realistic and relatable.

5. The members have their Haikyuu!! biases

japanese volleyball team -masahiro yanagida's bias
Masahiro Yanagida on the right

The team’s former captain and outside hitter, Masahiro Yanagida, has a soft spot for Shinsuke Kita. He feels that the character is a reliable leader and an admirable person in the Haikyuu!! series.

japanese volleyball team - akihiro yamauchi's bias
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The team’s middle blocker, Akihiro Yamauchi, stans Lev Haiba because he feels that the character’s volleyball journey and circumstances were relatable to him.

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Team setter Masahiro Sekita’s bias is Tobio Kageyama, because he feels that the character is mature for his age, and constantly pushes the team to become better.

japanese volleyball team - yuji nishida's bias
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Yuji Nishida mentioned that his favourite character in the series is Ryūnosuke Tanaka because their personalities are somewhat similar.

6.  The members were drawn as characters in Haikyuu!!

japanese volleyball team - members as manga characters
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As a part of the Haikyu!! × Japan Men’s National Volleyball Team New Collaboration, Furudate included a special chapter in the Haikyuu!! manga. It depicts current team leader Yūki Ishikawa playing a volleyball game with other Haikyuu!! characters.

The special chapter was shown during the
Yūki Ishikawa x Haikyuu!! TV program, and was subsequently released in volume 41 of the Haikyuu!! manga.

japanese volleyball team - masahiro x tobio
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Furudate drew Masahiro Yanagida – the team’s wing spiker and outside hitter – alongside Tobio Kageyama.

japanese volleyball team - yuji x ryuunosuke
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He also drew a signed picture of Nishida alongside Tanaka. The drawing was featured in Yuji Nishida’s Ace no Shōdō book, which was published earlier in July. Talk about being a successful fan!

7. Yūki Ishikawa’s younger sister is also playing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

japanese volleyball team - mayu ishikawa
Mayu Ishikawa (2nd from left)
Image credit: @m_ish_0514

The leader of Japan men’s national volleyball team, Yūki Ishikawa, has a younger sister named Mayu Ishikawa. She is also playing for Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Mayu plays the same position as her brother in Japan women’s national volleyball team.

8. Ran Takahashi was named after “home run”

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The team’s wing spiker, Ran Takahashi, said that his father named him after the baseball term “home run”. According to Takahashi, his father was an ardent baseball fan. However, Ran became a volleyball player instead.

Japanese volleyball team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The Japanese volleyball team is definitely the real life embodiment of the characters in Haikyuu!!, with their excellent teamwork, quirky personalities, and burning passion for the sport.

These 8 endearing facts are just the tip of the iceberg – if you watch more of the Japanese volleyball team’s videos, you’ll fall even deeper into the rabbithole and stan them even harder. 

For more Japanese-related articles, check out:

Cover image adapted from: @Haikyu_EN and @volleyball1301