With her 2003 film "Lost in Translation," Sofia Coppola won plaudits from critics and audiences alike for telling an emotionally nuanced, contemplative story set in Tokyo. But even in a movie where quiet moments are more important than action spectacles, the director couldn't resist the urge to zoom in on the wild side of Japan.

Watching it again recently, I found myself getting slightly irritated with a scene that seemed inoffensive in my pre-gaijin days. In the sequence, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are chased down the street by a man with a BB gun — the implication being that when traveling in Tokyo, crazy things will happen.

In my mind, this random broad, wacky humor was unnecessary. Yet this is the image of Tokyo many have and feel comfortable with. We like cities to have identities as it helps us understand the world and create an image that makes us want to visit. Tokyo is storied as a land of gaudy lights, gonzo humor and unpredictability on every corner.