Britain’s Non Stanford finished third in Yokohama to claim her first World Triathlon Series podium since 2016.
Stanford held off Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle to finish 43 seconds behind winner Flora Duffy and take bronze.
Bermuda’s Duffy, who won gold at April’s Commonwealth Games, won in one hour 53 minutes 25 seconds to move top of the overall standings.
“I just didn’t expect that today – it has been a really tough two years,” Wales’ Stanford said afterwards.
Stanford could only compete in two World Series events in 2017 after struggling with illness and injury.
“In all honestly I spent last night looking at job applications and I was reading this morning what I have to do for this particular job,” Stanford added.
“This sport can be super cruel and super tough, but it has taught me that if you keep plugging away, you can get back up there.”
American Kirsten Kasper had led the overall series going into the race but withdrew following a bike crash.
Compatriot Katie Zaferes registered a time of 1:53.58 to claim her second podium finish of the series.
Britain’s Jodie Stimpson finished 12th in 1:56:22, three minutes behind leader Duffy.
In the men’s event, defending champion Mario Mola of Spain claimed his first World Series win of the season, while Britain’s Grant Sheldon finished 18th.
The race in Japan marked the beginning of the two-year qualification period for the Olympic Games in 2020.