Japan's ancient culture, technological know-how and constant growth in all areas of life have long attracted the admiration of the world, its near neighbours included. Footballers are not immune to the many charms of this fascinating country, and FIFA.com gauged the views of some of the players who have voyaged from the four corners of the world to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2006.
Ronaldinho (Brazil, midfielder/forward, Barcelona)
It's an absolutely fantastic country and people have always welcomed me with open arms here. I was really looking forward to coming over again and I always get lots of letters and gifts from Japan. I have many friends here and I know they love me a lot. It's a pleasure to be back.
Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy, defender, Barcelona)
Japan is a wonderful country, but I have to say I enjoy travelling to any part of the world.
Frank Rijkaard (Netherlands, coach, Barcelona)
It's fascinating because not that many of our players know about Japanese culture and it's a great chance for them to get to know the country better.
Lilian Thuram (France, defender, Barcelona)
I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful experience. The Japanese are very educated and civilised people. I'm really excited about coming here.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Mexico, forward, Club America)
The Japanese are very happy people and they enjoy their football. The fans here will be looking to see some top-quality football and the facilities here are first-class. It's an amazing country.
Jose Antonio Castro (Mexico, defender, Club America)
It's a beautiful place. The stadiums are incredible and the people are really committed to this tournament.
Guillermo Ochoa (Mexico, goalkeeper, Club America)
The facilities and stadiums for this tournament are second to none. The infrastructure here has to be seen to be believed.
Pedro Iarley (Brazil, forward, Internacional)
I was here back in 2003 with Boca Juniors. It's a wonderful country, very well organised and the people are extremely polite, down to earth and hard-working. The food's delicious too.
Fernandao (Brazil, forward, Internacional)
It's the first time I've been to Japan and I have to say I've got nothing but admiration for the country and its people. This country's impact on the world in terms of lifestyle and the way they do things is huge. It's so different to everywhere else.
Abel Braga (Brazil, coach, Internacional)
I've had the chance to travel to Japan three times before but I've never been able to make it for one reason or another. Fortunately, I managed it this time and I'm enjoying myself a lot. The customs, honesty, security and openness of Japan make it a first-class country. There's a lot of wealth here, it's very modern and the organisational capabilities here are exceptional. They showed all that when they held the World Cup here in 2002 along with Korea.
Clemer (Brazil, goalkeeper, Internacional)
I've always been amazed by the technology in Japan. That's one of the things that catches your eye. As everyone knows the culture is unique here, very different to Brazil and it's been fascinating to experience it first-hand.
Shady Mohamed (Egypt, defender, Al Ahly)
It's a sophisticated country and I can't praise it enough.
Emad Moteab (Egypt, forward, Al Ahly)
Japan is a very advanced country with friendly people who are professional in everything they do.
Kim Hyeung-Bum (Korea Republic, midfielder, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC)
For me personally, I consider the Japanese nation to be our neighbours and friends. I feel very at home here.
Keryn Jordan (South Africa, forward, Auckland City)
The people are very passionate about their football and they're also very welcoming.
Neil Sykes (England, midfielder, Auckland City)
I don't know too much about Japan to be honest, but I do know the people love their football and that it's a fascinating place to visit. Sumo's the most popular sport here and I'd love to go and see a bout or two.
Ross Nicholson (New Zealand, goalkeeper, Auckland City)
What I like about Japan is its culture and the respect they have for older people - everything really. I'd never been here before and it's been fantastic to play in a tournament of this standard.