One interesting thing that came out of spending two months with a bunch of college-age people experiencing Japan for the first time was getting to watch illusions crushed first-hand.
An awful lot of them were anime or manga fans, and many of them had bought into the whole “Gross National Cool” meme; they expected anime merch to be crowding the aisles in every store and dancing cosplayers in the streets of Akihabara.
Reality was Somewhat Different.
To their credit, after the initial shocks wore off, they mostly adjusted to the grim realities; that they weren’t any more in the mainstream in Japan than they were in America and that Akihabara was just a big shopping district largely aimed at guys who were refusing to grow up… oh, yes, and that there was quite a lot of porn for sale, and that shops weren’t shy about putting rather risque stuff front & center.
Even more to their credit, even the most rabid of fans seemed to follow a basic pattern: They’d have one massive binge buying session early, and then they’d realize that they had to get all this stuff HOME somehow, and their purchases would suddenly start trending towards Very Small Things.
Lest you think I’m putting myself too far above them, I will just say that I planned my binge shopping to occur near the END of my trip to Japan, and I elected to ship stuff home instead of trying to make it all fit in my luggage. 🙂
Anyway, the overall effect was that a whole bunch of people went over to Japan with crazy ideas of how Things Would Be, and came home with a better picture of How Things Are. If they can just spread some of that sanity among their peers in their home country, the world will be just a little bit better for it.