The World Cup was on this weekend, but the Japanese women's soccer team was especially on. Widely considered the underdog, from a badly battered country that's just barely begun to recognize (and fund) this kick-ass sport for women, the team known as Nadeshiko—a pink mountain flower in Japan and traditional symbol of femininity there—surprised and thrilled its fans and soccer watchers around the globe when it took home the highest accolade the sport has to offer during the recent finals in Frankfurt, Germany. According to the Albany Times Union: "Back home, their story has bumped baseball and sumo off the sports front pages. 'They're not just playing a soccer game, they're playing to heal a wounded country,' said Tony DiCicco, the U.S. coach of the 1999 World Cup-winning team. 'They have won fans not just in Japan and not just here in Germany, but all over the world.'" Amid all sorts of sports controversies, and depressing news stories in general, it's as utterly nice and unexpected as a hardy pink mountain flower to find a sports team we can all find good reason to root for. We found five instances of Japonese in OhioLINK and 177 in WorldCat.
(A woman reacts as she reads the extra edition of a Japanese newspaper reporting that Japan beat the U.S. in the final match at the Women's Soccer World Cup in Germany, in Tokyo, July 18, 2011. Photograph by Shuji Kajiyama/AP.)