It can be easy to get the wrong idea about other countries, and it’s not uncommon for people to carry misconceptions around with them for years. Like the student of mine who asked me if they had McDonald’s in America — she’d eaten Makudonarudo all her life and had assumed it was a Japanese chain. Or an exchange student friend of mine who was sure that HBO was some kind of euphemism for “H-video.” Japan is famous for its love hotels, places where couples can spend some private time together, important in a privacy-challenged country where people in their 20s often live with their parents. Before the current word had been coined, these establishments were referred to as “motels” (mo-teru), with the result being that many older Japanese think that America is littered with love hotels along every freeway. We can get the wrong idea about Japan and the Japanese, too. When I arrived here, I expected Japan to be so expensive I’d have to sell my retinas if I wanted to eat a steak, yet I can gorge myself on Indian food for far less than what it would cost me to eat at the Star of India restaurant in San Diego. Anime series often feature characters who live in beautiful Buddhist temples or sprawling mansions, but of course very few of them do in real life. Really, there’s no better cure for these silly misconceptions than just getting out and traveling!
By the way, there is a Hello Kitty-themed love hotel. Thought you’d like to know.