Japanese team combines qualities with which we identify the Country of the Blossoming Cherry: discipline, order and harmony. Thanks to these attributes, the charges of Juna Tanaki are one of only four teams (next to Denmark, French and South Korea), who will play in the seventh edition of the women’s world championships under 18 in a row. This means that at the handball World Cup in this age category they weren’t missing even once! It can not be otherwise – in August they will visit Kielce. Let’s get to know them!

There is one more stereotype linked with Japan: Asians are usually relatively short. And although it is confirmed in the tournament protocol (the leader of the Japanese in this ranking – Wakana Hashiguchi – measures only 178 cm), it does not necessarily turn out to be the Achilles heel of the team of Jun Tanaki. “Our team is our strong point. Japan will be dangerous in the attack, because the movement of each girl is about to create some space for a friend,” explains Yuki Hattori, a Japanese sports journalist. In addition she points out that Asian girls want to match their peers who took the eighth place last year at the U-18 world championship in Georgia.

So, we can expect Japan girls to play a quick handball, many counterattacks, have mobility and present high defense in 3:3 or 3:2:1 systems. That is the typical style of handball for Asian teams. The most important player of the team is to be a team, unity presented on the court. The fact that such style of play causes a lot of problems to the rivals have been shown two years ago in Slovakia – bronze medals won playing almost identical handball South Korean national team.

Who should we pay special attention to? Yuki Hattori lists three names: Nao Takagi – strong left-handed player, good shooter from the distance, Wakana Hashiguchi – the highest in the team (178 cm), promising line player and Airi Ito – she can organize the team well in positional attack, but also surprise with a shot from the II line. The last of these is the team leader.

Despite the emerging successes, discipline is still gaining popularity in those areas very slowly. Hattori tells us that the handball situation in Japan is in a very bad condition. “It’s a really minor sport here. Baseball and football always come across as the leading sports here, then comes volleyball, basketball, table tennis, tennis…,” she ends. In that case we should the more appreciate the Japanese presence at the tournament in Kielce.

Girls, suguni Poland de aimashō!

Check the full Slovakian National Team profile including the full roster HERE.

Japan will play in Group C along with Norway, Russia, China, the Netherlands and Argentina.