Japan has had a rugby awakening. This much is beyond dispute.
It was apparent during last year's World Cup that rugby was managing to hook itself into the Japanese psyche – that it was finding all the right buttons to push to engage a population that has an eclectic taste in sport.
Rugby was present everywhere, no more so than Tokyo where there are 50 million people clustered in the wider area.
As the tournament went on, more red and white jerseys became visible: in restaurants, in shopping arcades, and on the expansive train network.
Across the city there were billboards with captain Michael Leitch promoting this and that, and it was hard to know whether he had a bigger profile than tennis sensation Naomi Osaka.
It was certainly close and when 54 per cent of the population tuned in to see Japan play Scotland in their final pool game, rugby's popularity was obvious.
And while the World Cup may be a fading memory, rugby in Japan isn't drifting out of the public conscious.
Something about it has captured the imagination and the Japanese domestic competition has enjoyed record crowds since it kicked off a few weeks ago.
Where once teams would have been celebrating if 10,000 turned up, a handful of games this year have seen in excess of 20,000 supporters pay to go through the gate, while one game between Panasonic, coached by Robbie Deans, against Toyota Verblitz, where Steve Hansen is the director of coaching, had a record attendance of 37,000.
That new found love of the game has been in evidence in Super Rugby where the Sunwolves had 18,000 people turn up to see the match with the Chiefs last week.
The game has boomed over there and of course, given the troubles that exist in Australia and it's potential financial collapse next year and the constant murmuring that the South Africans are eyeing a formal alliance with the Six Nations, New Zealand Rugby will be tempted to see Japan as its best hope of building a sustainable future.
Which it is, but only if they play the right hand. Japan's appeal is not at club level. Forget that. Been there, done that and it bombed.
The Sunwolves never made sense. They should never have been part of Super Rugby. Of all the ill-conceived ideas Sanzaar hatched this was the one that was doomed from the beginning.
Japan had its own strong, domestic club competition that had history, a following and corporate backing. And somehow Sanzaar thought it would make sense for Japan to create a new team to play in Super Rugby – which would be a bit like New Zealand having a sixth professional side that played in the English Premiership but not Super Rugby.
It was nuts – this weird set-up where Japan had a Super Rugby outfit that effectively competed against the established domestic clubs for players.
It was never going to work but the Japanese were wrongly advised that their national team could only become part of an expanded Rugby Championship if they had a presence in Super Rugby.
There was this undercurrent of opinion that Japanese players would be blown off the park in a test against the established Rugby Championship nations if they didn't have some prior sense of the speed and intensity of the Southern Hemisphere game.
And that was always the goal – to win their national team regular exposure to the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks.
That the Japanese Rugby Union announced last year they would pull the Sunwolves' funding from 2021 was no surprise as they have seen the light – worked out that Sanzaar has no ability to dictate terms these days and is, frankly, desperate.
That desperation can now be exploited and Japan should be playing hard ball now to have its national team injected into the Rugby Championship as early as next year.
And it shouldn't even have to play hard ball as Sanzaar has to revamp the Rugby Championship with some haste as the introduction of Argentina in 2012 has created a repetitive, uninspiring competition whose only real legacy is likely to be the enormous carbon footprint it leaves behind.
There are unknowns about Japan's depth of talent, about their ability to cope in a tournament that is relentless in regards to the intensity of the rugby and the burden of travel, but whatever risk they present, the potential reward outweighs it.
It is time for Sanzaar to play a smart hand and build the right alliance with Japan – engage with them on just one basis and that is to introduce the national side into the Rugby Championship.
As was seen at the last World Cup, the Japanese domestic competition does a fine job indeed of readying its players to play test football at a speed and skill level that is in fact beyond what we see in the Rugby Championship.