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Japan's Rugby World Cup players remain in high spirits after their quarterfinal loss to South Africa on Oct. 20 in Tokyo. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)
Rugby World Cup

In pictures: Japan's Rugby World Cup dream comes to an end

Emotions remain high after loss, satisfied with first advance into knockout round

YUKI KOHARA, Nikkei Asian Review photo editor | Japan

TOKYO -- Japan's run in the Rugby World Cup came to an end on Sunday as the hosts suffered a 26-3 loss to South Africa in the quarterfinals.

Japan came out of the 20-team tournament at No. 8, the highest that the country, where the sport remains quasi-amateur, has ever finished.

The Brave Blossoms entered the second half down 5-3 but failed to score again.

In the semifinals, England plays New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday, and Wales plays South Africa on Sunday.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

Japanese fans hold a flag blaring the title of an unofficial team song, "Victory Road," whose lyrics, some written on the flag in Japanese, are sung to the tune, "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

(Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

South African fans live it up before their team soundly defeated the host nation, assuring a place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

Japan's World Cup team leaves the pitch after warming up ahead of the big game.

(Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

Keita Inagaki runs away from an attempted tackle.

(Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

Kenki Fukuoka is tackled in the first half of Japan's quarterfinal loss to South Africa.

(Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

Japan's Timothy Lafaele and Ryoto Nakamura tackle South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi.

(Photo by Yuki Nakao)

Japan's Amanaki Mafi and Kazuki Himeno react after a South African player is whistled for a penalty.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura) 

Japanese fans react to Yu Tamara's field goal, which came after a first-half penalty and pulled Japan to within two of South Africa.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

Japan's Michael Leitch, being tackled, gets a pass off to Kazuki Himeno in the first half.

(Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

South Africa's Lood De Jager and Japan's James Moore vie for the ball during a lineout.

(Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara) 

In the second half, Japan's Kotaro Matsushima wins the ball as South Africa's Makazole Mapimpi is penalized for tackling his foe in the air.

(Photo by Yuki Nakao)

Japan's Shota Horie, left, and teammate James Moore bring down South Africa's Malcolm Marx.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

South African and Japanese players maul in the second half.

(Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

South Africa's Faf de Klerk smiles after his second-half try.

(Photo by Yuki Nakao)

Japan's Kotaro Matsushima grimaces after Makazole Mapimpi scores a try.

(Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

Japan's rugby players stroll off the field, heads bowed, after their World Cup ended with a loss to South Africa.

(Photo by Kosaku Mimura)

A Japanese fan, her eyes welling up, covers her face after her team's bid for World Cup glory came to an end.

(Photo by Yuki Nakao)

Yutaka Nagare stares into the distance after South Africa dashed his and Japan's World Cup hopes.

(Photo by Toshiki Sasazu)

Michael Leitch and some of his Japanese teammates huddle after the match.

(Photo by Takaki Kashiwabara)

Japanese fans cheer on their heroes as they leave the playing field.

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