Q Why are the Japanese so surprised to see non-Japanese use chopsticks?

A When a Japanese and a non-Japanese dine together, and when the Japanese notices that the non-Japanese is able to use chopsticks well, a comment inevitably made by the Japanese is, "You use chopsticks very well."

The Japanese think that their culture is totally unique. They tend to forget that chopsticks are also used in many other countries such as China, Korea and Southeast Asia. They also tend to forget that Chinese food is highly regarded, even more so than Japanese food that the two cannot even begin to be compared.

It makes the Japanese blush to hear that although a Japanese restaurant may not exist anywhere in a relatively large city, a Chinese restaurant is bound to exist somewhere and that Americans belonging to the middle class and above regard knowing how to use chopsticks properly as only natural. This phenomenon is not only directed toward the use of chopsticks, but also to non-Japanese who speak Japanese. They are often told, "You speak Japanese very well."

The Japanese are under the impression that their language is unique, to the point of being very difficult for non-Japanese to learn. This is something the Japanese must always keep in mind, that in the same way chopsticks are commonly used throughout the world, many people from other countries come to Japan having studied some Japanese.