Popular Misconceptions about Japan

Recently I got the opportunity to travel to Japan. I had fancied a japan visit for a long time and so I had some background knowledge about Japan, by the time of my travel. Besides, I have some very good friends in japan through whom I had learned most of what I know now about japan. 

Before I went to Japan, I had lots of ideas about what I might find in Japan. Most of them were correct and some were not that correct. Overall, I would say, I was better off than many other people I had discussed about Japan. Sometimes, the level of misinformation people had about japan, amazed me. So I decided it’d be a good time to clarify some of them. I won’t be sharing much about my experiences in Japan, as it’s a subject for another blog(s).

The only language in Japan in Japanese and its very difficult to travel in Japan because of the language barrier
I was a bit worried before my travel about the language barrier, but it turned out to be just as easy as navigating through any other tourist location. Its true that the Japanese are not that well versed in English, but most of the sign boards have English instructions and most railway stations have tourist information centers nearby. In the worst case, I simply used sign languages as the Japanese go to great lengths to help you.

Geishas are prostitutes
Another blunder! Geisha is a female entertainer, not a prostitute. If anything, they were strictly forbidden to have paid sex. “In the late eighteenth century, dancing women called "odoriko" and newly popular female geisha began entertaining men at banquets in unlicensed districts. Some were apprehended for illegal prostitution and sent to the licensed quarters, where there was a strict distinction between geisha and prostitutes, and the former were forbidden to sell sex.” – from Wikipedia
There are pornographic videos, which claim to be featuring Hollywood actress. But that doesn’t make Hollywood actresses, prostitutes. Geisha’s case is also similar.
Original geishas exist even today, in the Gion area in Kyoto. And Japanese are very proud about geishas.

Japanese eat snakes, scorpions and stuff or the main Japanese dish is raw fish and they don’t eat other cuisines
Totally wrong! I don’t know who eats snakes, may be the Chinese or the Koreans, but not Japanese. They like seafood a lot and perhaps the most curious thing I found is a sea urchin sushi.
They do eat a lot of raw fish (sushi, sashimi etc.) and its very tasty if prepared by a licensed chef. But they do have other dishes like the ramen, udon, domburi etc. Another thing I noticed during my travel is, they love Italian food. I could find as many Italian restaurants as Japanese restaurants. Also I found Middle Eastern food, Indian food and even Kerala food in Japan.

They are extremely conventional or they are extremely advanced and so no traditional
They are a bit of both. They live in the edge of technology and at the same time they keep their traditional values. It’s amazing how they find the right balance between both. Very close to Akihabara – the electric town, Tokyo – you can find Asakusa with the famous Sensoji Temple where they still pray.  They wear Kimono’s (traditional dress) with the same pride as they wear their extremely formal official dress. They never leave their traditions behind for modern lifestyle. 

A couple of other misconceptions are, they are very cold-hearted people, anime & manga are cartoons, Yakuza is a myth etc.

As for me, two quotes from the movie The Last Samurai sums up my perception about Japan and its people,
Everyone is polite. Everyone smiles and bows. But beneath their courtesy, I detect a deep reservoir of feeling.
They are an intriguing people. From the moment they wake they devote themselves to the perfection of whatever they pursue. I have never seen such discipline.