Jones had just bogeyed the sixth with a three-putt, but an eagle on the very next hole kick started his climb up the leaderboard as Imahira also embarked on a hot streak.
The Canberran had three birdies on the back nine and then finished off with another eagle on the 18th hole.
"I played with a young guy up here, Shugo Imahira, who's leading the money list, and he's an absolute gun, so I just sort of fed off him," Jones said.
"I probably did it a little bit harder than he did, but we both sort of dragged each other along.
"Golf's a bit like that. You play with some guy that's on a roll and you feed off it. It can also happen the other way.
"I've put myself in a good spot. Tomorrow's another day, hopefully try and continue what I started today."
The 43-year-old has just passed the one billion yen mark for career prize money ($12 million) to become the first Australian to reach that mark in Japan.
While the Australian Open field is vying for a slice of a total prize-money purse of $1.25 million in Sydney, Jones is playing for a share of almost $2.5 million.
"I know on my day I can match it with most people. It's a four-round tournament not a three-round tournament unfortunately so still got another day to go," Jones said.
"It's been a very consistent year for me, without having a win, but I've been close quite a few times."