Hinata Miyazawa scored her fifth goal of the Women's World Cup on Saturday to seal a 3-1 win over Norway and put Japan into the quarter-finals against Sweden or holders the United States.
In a last-16 clash in Wellington between two former champions, an Ingrid Syrstad Engen own-goal gave Japan an early lead in front of 33,000 fans.
Norway hit back with a brilliant Guro Reiten header to make it 1-1 at half-time.
The Norwegian defence buckled in the face of constant Japanese pressure when defender Risa Shimizu put her side back into the lead before Miyazawa struck again.
The 23-year-old is now the tournament's top scorer.
The 2011 champions Japan had breezed into the last 16 with an immaculate three wins, chalking up 11 goals without reply in the group stages.
Norway recovered from a shock defeat against co-hosts New Zealand on the opening day to draw with Switzerland before beating the Philippines 6-0 to advance.
The Norwegians were without 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Ada Hegerberg after she failed to make the starting side due to a groin injury.
Japan controlled the opening exchanges.
Miyazawa came within a whisker of grabbing the opener inside 60 seconds, but failed to connect with a short cross from close range.
Japan's early pressure told when Engen watched in horror after stabbing Miyazawa's cross into her own net on 15 minutes.
The lead lasted just five minutes due to some Norwegian brilliance on their first meaningful forage into Japan's half.
Barcelona playmaker Caroline Graham Hansen beat two defenders, played the ball wide to Vilde Boe Risa, whose pinpoint cross was headed home by Reiten.
It was the first goal Japan have conceded at this tournament, but there was no let-up from them.
They stifled Norway's attack by holding possession higher up the field, leaving Norway's playmaker Graham Hansen tied up defending.
Japan should have scored their second just before half-time when Yui Hasegawa's pass beat the defence but evaded Jun Endo's run.
It finished 1-1 at the break, but Japan had early chances before West Ham's Shimizu punished a loose Norway pass by firing her side back into the lead.
With time running out, the 1995 champions Norway fought their way back into the game.
Graham Hansen forced a corner as Norway pushed for a second equaliser. Replacement forward Karina Saevik fired wide of the far post.
Arsenal midfielder Frida Maanum then fired straight at Japan's keeper.
Miyazawa sealed Japan's victory with nine minutes left.
She perfectly timed her run, then tucked Aoba Fujino's through ball past Norway goalkeeper Aurora Mikalsen to fire Japan into the last eight.