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As the Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee’s appointed “Cool Tokyo” ambassador, multilingual television journalist Christel Takigawa set media buzzing worldwide with her Sept. 7, 2013, speech to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires in which she made great play of the word “motenashi” by attaching the honorific prefix “o” and enunciating it slowly as “o-mo-te-na-shi.”

A dictionary will tell you omotenashi means “hospitality, treatment, reception, service,” but among the praise her use of the word prompted on social media, some expats poured scorn and sounded off about hospitality not being unique to Japan, and most of it being strictly by the book anyway.

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