Despite a heartbreaking loss to Sweden in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals on Friday, Nadeshiko Japan has captured the hearts and minds of fans both at home and abroad with a dynamic, flashy style of play backed by a rising generation of star talent.

It’s a welcome change from the last decade, during which the popularity of women’s soccer has declined in Japan as rapidly as it has risen in other countries around the world.

With head coach Futoshi Ikeda set to guide Nadeshiko to qualification for the Paris Olympics, and the domestic WE League — which developed so many of the players who starred in New Zealand — about to kick off its third season, there’s plenty for Japanese women’s soccer fans to be excited about.