Japan’s ‘Witches of the East’ – lost chance for female sporting revolution (233)
The Japanese Women's Volleyball team (known as the ‘Witches of the East’) won Gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The team members were mostly from the Nichibo textile company. The team worked and trained together under the patronage of the textile industry. Their victory was an epoch-making event in Japan’s post-war history. They were the first Japanese women's team in any sport to win an Olympic gold medal. The match was watched by a record 94.5 per cent of TV‑owning households in Japan and remains one of the most memorable moments for the nation in the twentieth century. While the first global sporting triumph for Japanese women was an extraordinary achievement in the 1960s, it was not, however, the catalyst for major change to their social position in the male dominated country.