TOKYO - Japan's progress to the World Cup quarter-finals has not only enthralled the host nation but it has also made the heavyweights of the rugby world, including defending champions New Zealand, sit up and take notice.
Impressed by Sunday's 28-21 victory over Scotland at a raucous Yokohama Stadium, which propelled Japan to their highest world ranking of seventh, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was glad not to be facing the hosts next.
"People have said, 'Who do you want to play?'" Hansen said.
"Well, they're the in-form team, I'm quite happy they're on the other side of the draw."
Japan advanced top of Pool A with four straight victories over Russia, Ireland, Samoa and the Scots and will face South Africa in the quarters after the Springboks finished runners-up to New Zealand in Pool B.