And while the Japanese made 14 changes from the team that was beaten 42-17 by Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, Tuesday night's fixture would have acted as a timely confidence boost for a Gloucester, who have been struggling domestically so far this season.
The Cherry and Whites were on a four-match losing streak prior to this six-try success, with their last victory coming in the Heineken Cup opener with Perpignan on October 12. A 26-10 defeat at Munster in Round Two a week later was followed by Aviva Premiership losses at Bath and at home to London Wasps, with a comprehensive 33-6 reverse in the LV= Cup at Northampton their most recent result prior to the Japanese triumph.
It initially looked as if that poor form might continue as Japan crossed for the game's opening try through flanker Justin Ives inside the first two minutes. But Gloucester hit back to lead 26-5 at half-time thanks to three tries from Sharples and another from fellow wing James Simpson-Daniel.
Replacement Steph Reyonlds and impressive back rower Mat Cox touched down after the interval, although Gloucester appeared to lose some of their momentum after the break and didn't add to their first-half lead until the final 15 minutes.
Next up for Gloucester is the LV= Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm this Saturday, with an away trip to Harlequins and a home tie against Leicester Tigers in the league preceding their European encounters with Edinburgh.
Gloucester are currently bottom of Pool 6 in the Heineken Cup but are just two points behind leaders Perpignan. All four sides have won one and lost one so far, with Perpignan out in front on six points, Munster in second on five and Edinburgh and Gloucester level on four points apiece.
They travel to Scotland on Sunday, December 8 and then welcome Edinburgh to the West Country on December 15, before hosting Munster in Round 5 and then travelling to France for their final group game on the weekend of January 17/18/19.