It was only the third time Germany had lost its tournament-opening game after defeats against Algeria in 1982 and Mexico in 2018.
Two of the best players in soccer start World Cup competition Thursday as Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar both seek history in Qatar.
Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano — who both play for German clubs — subbed in and put balls past goalie Manuel Neuer after the 76th minute. Their coach called it "a historic moment, a historic victory."
For the second straight tournament, the Germans failed to live up to their favoritism in the first game, falling 2-1 after an incredible comeback by Japan.
Japan pulled off a massive upset in their Group E matchup on Wednesday, defeating Germany 2-1 and putting the Germans on their heels.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored late goals to give Japan a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Germany at the World Cup.