November 11, 2000: Test MatchIreland 78 Japan 9, Lansdowne RoadScorers: Ireland: Tries: Denis Hickie 3, Tyrone Howe 2, Brian O'Driscoll 2, Peter Clohessy, Rob Henderson, Peter Stringer, Geordan Murphy; Cons: Ronan O'Gara 10; Pen: O'GaraJapan: Pens: Keiji Hirose 3
Fly-half Ronan O'Gara kicked 23 points and winger Denis Hickie bagged a try hat-trick as Gatland's Ireland warmed up for a shot at South Africa, the visitors to Lansdowne Road eight days later.
Tyrone Howe and crafty centre Brian O'Driscoll also poached two tries apiece on a day when front row legends Keith Wood and Peter Clohessy, who had his son Luke as the team mascot and scored his fourth international try, celebrated their 40th caps in style.
With Japan, who boasted a backline averaging just 5ft 9in in height, creating 12 turnovers in the opening half and briefly going 6-3 in front, Ireland manager Brian O'Brien paid tribute to the visitors' battling qualities, saying: "I would like to compliment the Japanese on their tenacity, right to the very end. If we can take anything from this game, we certainly could take some of that attitude."
The Irish subsequently lost 28-18 to the Springboks the following weekend, with home tries again for Hickie and Howe.
31 May, 1995: Rugby World Cup Pool CIreland 50 Japan 28, Free State Stadium, BloemfonteinScorers: Ireland: Tries: Neil Francis, Simon Geoghegan, David Corkery, Eddie Halvey, Niall Hogan, Penalty tries 2; Cons: Paul Burke 6; Pen: BurkeJapan: Tries: Sinali Latu, Ko Izawa, Seiji Hirao, Masahiro Kunda; Cons: Yoshihito Yoshida
Prop Nick Popplewell captained Ireland, in hooker Terry Kingston's absence, as they claimed their first Pool win of the 1995 World Cup against Japan.
Hooker Keith Wood, in for Kingston, dislocated his shoulder and was forced out of the tournament, to be replacement by present-day Lion Shane Byrne.
Japan sensed an upset. The Asian speedsters came within five points of the Irish in the second half before Popplewell and company hit them for a penalty try, a Paul Burke penalty and a converted try from scrum-half Niall Hogan late on.
Burke had slammed his opening penalty shot thundering against an upright in the first few minutes, but from a subsequent drive, flanker David Corkery muscled over for Ireland's first try.
October 9, 1991: Rugby World Cup Pool 2Ireland 32 Japan 16, Lansdowne RoadScorers: Ireland: Tries: Noel Mannion 2, Jim Staples, Pat O'Hara; Cons: Ralph Keyes 2; Pens: Keyes 4Japan: Tries: Toshiyuki Hayashi, Hiroyuki Kajihara, Yoshihito Yoshida; Cons: Takahiro Hosokawa
Ireland easily dominated the first half to lead 19-6 against Japan - as they secured their second Pool 2 win of the 1991 World Cup.
The lineout strength of Neil Francis and Noel Mannion allowed the home side a large chunk of possession, and by the time of Ralph Keyes' three penalty successes early in the second half, the result was decided.
While Hiroyuki Kajihara grabbed the plaudits of the near-30,000 attendance with a blistering long-range second half try, the fleet-footed moves of Japan's 5ft 3in scrum-half Masami Horikoshi were also closely monitored.
* An Ireland squad also travelled to Japan in 1985 to line out in two non-cap games. The Ciaran Fitzgerald-led side earned a 48-13 victory in the first clash in Osaka, with winger Trevor Ringland scoring three tries.
In the second tie at Tokyo's Chichibu ground, Michael Kiernan scored two touchdowns as the Irish came from being level-pegging at 12-12 at half-time, to leading 33-15 with a second half spurt by the final whistle.
Pictured above: On a team visit to the Kiyomizu Temple on Thursday, are: (back row, l-r) Denis Leamy, Johnny O'Connor, Anthony Horgan, Roger Wilson; (front row, l-r) Reggie Corrigan, Bernard Jackman, Conor McPhillips and Gavin Duffy.