Cape Town - Jamie Joseph is relishing facing Ireland in June after Japan were pooled alongside them in the 2019 World Cup draw announced on Wednesday.
The head coach was in attendance at the draw as the Brave Blossoms were pooled with the Irish, Scotland, Europe 1 and the Play-off winner.
Before the tournament in two years' time however, Japan will take on Ireland next month in two Tests, taking place on June 17 and June 24.
"Any pool that we were going to get put in was going to be a big challenge. But now there is some certainly around it, we can start our planning and we’re really looking forward to it," head coach Joseph said in the historic city of Kyoto as he reflected on their pool draw.
"I think we’re fortunate in that we play Ireland in June so that will give the players a good understanding about that team because Japan haven’t beaten Ireland or Scotland to date so we know that the challenge is going to be big."
He added on the 2019 tournament: "There is still a long time to go, we are still a couple of years away, and I guess all teams are blooding some young players who are coming through so it’s going to be really exciting."