I'm sorry for the weird title. English is not my first language and I'm not sure how to put it... I wanted to say something among the lines "How Americans imagine Japan to be/What is Japan like, according to Americans" - the nuance being that I'm talking about Americans who have never been to Japan. I was thinking of using 印象, but I think 印象 is more about looking at something and getting an impression of what is it like, so it might not really be the best choice of words. Is there a nice, simple way of stating it?
So if you want to simply say "an image of Japan, you can use イメージ:
It doesn't determine if someone had or had not direct experience with Japan. The image might change when getting more exposure.
To emphasize imaginative aspect you might decide for: "Japan as imagined by Americans"