Wales lacked fluency as the razor sharp Japanese dazzled with their speed and handling skills but the home side clawed their way back into the contest with a penalty try. Winger Kippei Ishida was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle in the lead-up to the try and he was still off the field when Wales skipper Joe Roberts powered over to put his side back in front.
Japan refused to buckle and evened up the score with a gem of a try. An intricate backline move involving right winger Kanji Futamura and Tyler Maurice Main saw halfback Taisei Konishi scamper over for a converted try to level the scores 24-24.
Replacement scrum half Dafydd Land and centre Oisan Knott eventually sealed victory with late tries in an entertaining encounter.
The first half was played at a frenetic pace with Wales scoring two unconverted tries through Frankie Jones and Brodie Coughlan.
Japan responded with a try to hooker Sho Fukui who exploded from a ruck to score. Konishi added the conversion and finished the half with a short range penalty to leave the match evenly poised.
Wales head coach Geraint Lewis admitted his side had to battle hard for the win but is hopeful they can impose their own style on Japan on the return match at Cardiff Arms Park on Wednesday.
“We were a bit startled for the first half but you can’t fault the boys’ character – they turned things around and ultimately we won the game and that’s what international rugby is all about,” he said.
“It was a tough game, but in fairness to Japan they were physical, especially in the contact area and we struggled to come to terms with that but we came through in the end.
“When we got in the right areas we quickened the ball up and the boys showed the ability they have. It’s a first run out together with limited preparation, so hopefully the boys can take these experiences on board and kick on again for Wednesday.”
Scorers: Wales U19 – Tries: Frankie Jones, Brodie Coghlan, Pen Try, Joe Roberts, Dafydd Land, Osian Knott; Cons: Josh Thomas (2)
Japan High Schools – Tries: Sho Fukui, Tyler Maurice Main, Taisei Konishi; Cons: Taisei Konishi (3); Pen: Konishi