When you hear the word, “Japan,” what comes to mind? Mt. Fuji? Animé? Cherry blossoms? Those of us who have lived in Japan came to this country with ideas of what we might encounter and many of those preconceived impressions turned out to be completely false. We asked foreigners who have been living in Japan for at least three years to share what they thought about Japan before ever stepping foot inside the country. Take a look at their answers:

1. Old people are always in arcades battling it out with the kids.

Reality: Never seen it.

2. Samurai live in Japan.

Reality: We’ve never seen one, unless you count Eiga Mura in Osaka.

3. No matter where you are in Japan, you can see Mt. Fuji.

Reality: Japan is much bigger than that.

4. There are vending machines with girls inside.

Reality: Are you kidding?

5. All festivals are strange and outrageous.

Reality: Only a few.

6. Japanese people like door knobs.

Reality: Only girls in “certain” photo books. And they’re probably not so keen in reality.

7. Japanese people eat insects on a daily basis.

Reality: Only some people.

8.  Because Japan is an advanced nation, everyone can understand English to some extent.

Reality: Not exactly.

9.  Many people wear kimonos.

Reality: You will occasionally see people wearing kimonos on the street.

10. Everyone loves Hard Gay.

Reality: Hard Gay hasn’t been seen since 2006.

11. Japanese pine trees grow all over the place.

Reality: Only in some places.

12. Cherry blossom trees bloom all year round.

Reality: Only during spring.

13. You can eat sushi off of a woman’s naked body in Japan.

Reality: No. You can’t.

14. Everyone makes sushi at home.

Reality: Most people just get takeout sushi if they eat it at home.

15. Most Japanese are otaku.

Reality: Most Japanese are not.

16. Capsule hotels are very popular.

Reality: They aren’t, unless you’re really short on money.

17. Sumo is an everyday sport.

Reality: It isn’t.

18. People read pornographic materials on the trains.

Reality: Only sometimes.

What’s most interesting is that every single foreigner who was interviewed said that after living in Japan, the country turned out to be unexpectedly normal and different than they expected. It seems the world thinks of Japan as a land where otaku run wild, Hard Gay is worshipped, and people do sumo while fighting samurai in the streets, only pausing to eat sushi off of naked women. In the end, Japan is just a country with normal people going about their normal everyday lives, not some magical land of crazy. But we will grant that, when Japanese are eccentric they know how to push the boat out…

What do you think? Can any of you relate to these preconceived impressions about Japan? Let us know in the comments section below.
[ Read in Japanese ]