Earlier this month, when the nation's Olympic bid ambassador Christel Takigawa referred to "omotenashi" (the spirit of Japanese-style hospitality) in her speech to the International Olympic Committee, the term quickly turned into a buzzword in Japan.

Now that Tokyo's preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics are in full swing, one of its urgent tasks, it seems, is to get its citizens to open up to people from different cultures, with 8.5 million visitors, many from abroad, expected to flood the city during the Games. Can Tokyoites be truly welcoming hosts, demonstrating their deep and sincere hospitality?

A Kyoto-based NPO called Pangaea, which offers Net-based, real-time exchanges among children across different cultures, shows exactly the kind of first-hand, cross-cultural experiences that the nation's children need more of to prepare for such challenges. The group, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has allowed children aged 9 to 15 and coming from various different cultures to nurture their curiosity in — and friendly feelings for — each other, without having to travel tens of thousands of kilometers or learn a whole new language. Instead, they offer what it calls a "universal playground" on the Internet.