For 40 minutes, it seemed like the miracle of Brighton all over again.
Japan were leading England 15-10 at half-time and on course for their biggest victory since their famous World Cup upset against South Africa.
Eddie Jones had warned his opponents to 'go to the temple and pray', but it was the Red Rose coach who needed help from the heavens.
England's experimental side, featuring 11 new faces, were outplayed by their magical opponents and needed a second-half fightback to see off the minnows who earn just £13 a day.
If this game, with its short turnaround, was supposed to replicated World Cup conditions then England have a huge amount to work on over the next 12 months.
The hosts scored after 180 seconds but, for the next 50 minutes, everything unravelled.
They had just 23 per cent of the territory in the first-half as Japan were sharper in thought and execution.
Danny Care scored the opening try after Elliot Daly, Joe Cokanasiga and Jamie George counter attacked from a Japanese kick, but England were killed by their discipline.
They conceded three penalties in the opening 10 minutes, although they turned down their kicks at goal.
After 15 minutes, Jack Nowell was penalised at the breakdown and Fumiaka Tanaka eventually kicked his side's opening points.
The Brave Blossoms were living up to their name.
Their attack was full of tricks and offloads, while England were slow and cumbersome.
It took 23 minutes for Ryoto Nakamura to score their first try. The centre stood at first receiver from a scrum and, changing his direction, pushed Alex Lozowski off balance to run in.
On the left wing, Kenki Fukuoka ripped shreds out of the English defence.
Eddie Jones' side barely had a sniff of the ball and skipper Michael Leitch joined into an English huddle as the tier two side antagonised their opponents.
Daly drew England level with a penalty from the halfway line, but Japan continued to dominate.
Against the All Blacks last week, England delivered one of their best 30 minutes under Jones. This week was the polar opposite.
After 31 minutes, Akihito Yamada freed his arms in the tackle of George Ford and offloaded to Leitch.
The flanker bounced off Care, evaded Dylan Hartley and Harry Williams, before sidestepping Elliot Daly to score. England were under siege.
Chris Ashton was hauled off after 33 minutes, with Jack Nowell shifting back to the wing following a botched experiment in the centres.
And Japan continued to apply pressure in England's 22 – with Care happy to kick the ball into touch to signal half time. So much for a winning mentality?
Jones played his trump card during the break, introducing Owen Farrell in place of Lozowski.
Sam Underhill and Boon Moon followed soon after, but the replacement flanker's first involvement was to run offside as he charged down William Tupou's kick.
Eventually, Japan's discipline started to unravel and Ford narrowed the deficit with a penalty after 56 minutes.
Then the visitors were penalised for pulling down a maul in their own half and England kicked for territory.
They built phases, with replacement Kyle Sinckler tipping on the ball in attack, before Ford set up Mark Wilson for his first ever Test try.
Marking his 50th cap with an almost perfect display from the tee, Ford kicked his second penalty after 65 minutes to give England eight points of breathing space.
Courtney Lawes won a turnover penalty to stifle a Japanese attack and moments later Cokanisiga scored down the left, following a break from Richard Wigglesworth.
And England scored their fourth after 76 minutes, with Hartley touching down off a driving lineout.
At the end of it all, Jones' prayers were just about answered.