The way female fans cheer from the stands, zealously waving uchiwa (paper fans) and signs for their favorite stars, it's easy to mistake a men's volleyball game in Japan for a concert featuring the latest idol pop group. Especially since many superfans follow their favorite players as religiously as J-pop fans support their favorite idols.

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

Male spectators in volleyball arenas, however, are in a notable minority. More than 80% of the fans at men’s domestic competitions are women in their 20s, 30s and 40s, according to Masaaki Okawa, the vice chairman of the V. League, Japan's pro volleyball circuit.