"Nadeshiko Japan" is the nickname for the Japan's women's national soccer team. "Nadeshiko" comes from "Yamato nadeshiko," which means "ideal Japanese woman." They are the first Asian team to win the FIFA Women's World Cup after defeating No. 1 ranked United States in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Final.
After a surge of popularity in the 70s, 80s and 90s, Japanese women's soccer was unable to maintain its momentum, failing to qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympics. In the early 2000s, however, at the hands of a new coach, the team gradually recovered and gained new support which widened following increased worldwide interest in Japanese women's soccer.
Even with the renewed interested, women's soccer was never popular enough to draw big crowds, but after the World Cup win, a record breaking 24,546 people came to watch them at Japan's Tohoku Big Swan Stadium. A big part of their popularity is the women's devotion to the sport; unable to earn a living by playing soccer, many of them work part time in factories, convenience stores and the like.
For a country struck by the double disaster of earthquake and tsunami this spring, the World Cup victory is more than a simple victory. It gave renewed hope and encouragement to all those who were victims of the catastrophe. Nadeshiko Japan is now aiming for another victory in the upcoming 2012 London Olympics. Let's wish them the best of luck!