Americans love to talk about how exciting, beautiful, or fun their experiences were in foreign countries. Many people especially love to talk about those experiences with natives of the visited country.

Japanese people are no different. Sometimes they tell me how beautiful San Francisco is or how wonderful Vancouver is. They really, really also love to tell me how trains are never on time, how dangerous it is to live in the US, and how fat Americans are.

Media in Japan can be very self-aggrandizing, intentional or not–one should probably refer to the decades of Japanese isolation rather than a conservative nationalistic movement. Education and media often compare Japan to other countries, which is very good for students, but comparisons can be biased or outdated. For example, a “Secrets of Toilets” book at schools compares high-tech Japanese bidet toilets to Chinese holes in the ground.

At times, foreigners can get an unintended feeling that Japanese are shocked a foreign country could have done something so wonderful. And it is very important for some teachers to promote Japanese ideas in comparisons, subtly forcing children to repeat these ideas (one example being “These are Korean, American, French, and Japanese breakfasts; which one is the lowest calorie and healthiest?”). No wonder Japanese have very little interest in experiencing foreign worlds!