Aug 31, 2013

A fork? Because I am white right? :/

This blog is something that often other gaijin complain about when moving to Japan. Receiving a fork in a restaurant when you are not supposed to.

Its a simple thing, but its rather stupid. Its not some big discrimination that is worth suing over, you could hardly call it discrimination, but rather bad business.

Now some would say, "why is this bad business, its just a fork, just ask for chopsticks".  Yes. That is true. However.

The fact still remains, all the customers should be treated the same and it is rude to judge a customer based off their race and assume what they will eat with. It doesn't make people feel happy or feel comfortable when they are judged by what they look like.

Its just as ignorant as a racially Asian looking person walking into a Canadian restaurant, ordering a salad and out come some chopsticks. WTF?

In Japan, Chopsticks are used to eat many things, not just Japanese food. Chopsticks are not used to eat everything though. Instead of listing off the stuff they use chopsticks for I am only going to talk about some important stuff.

In Japan, when you eat a salad, you eat it with chopsticks. It is the most normal tool to eat a salad with.

There are some exceptions, certain western food restaurants ONLY have fork and spoon to eat with. However, in general, especially at a convinience store, Salad is eaten with chopsticks.

I have been buying food at convince stores for over 2 years now, never having a problem that some people think of. Many people mention being automatically given a fork for their food. I haven't experienced it till a few days ago.

Just a normal day I bought my Wakame and bean Salad at the Convince store and brought it to school. When it came time to open it I was shocked to find a plastic fork.

I was shocked because I felt at first, Did that person even see that I ordered a salad?? I thought this person didn't even notice what I bought, how can they not see it? I didn't order spaghetti....

It is so normal to get chopsticks when you get a salad, just like you would get chopsticks as you get soba or sushi, pretty much any food at the conbini except for friend rice (spoon) or spaghetti (fork). I didn't think "racism! racism!" right away because I assumed that the person didn't see that I got a salad.

Now sometimes this happens to non-Asian raced people. Which is rude and annoying. And sometimes people will get very offended.  Its not the worst type of discrimination, but not a lot of discrimination happens in Japan, so the little things bother you. If I was at home, I could have just tossed the fork aside and grabbed some chopsticks in my kitchen no problem. But I was at school so it caused a little bit of a inconvenience for me.

I went to the teachers room quickly at school and asked to borrow chopsticks. Wasting over 5 mins of my eating time. Even the teachers were a little surprised that they gave me a fork and said 'you can't eat salad with a fork, strange'.

Now I know what you might be thinking, "JUST SUCK IT UP GAIJIN AND EAT WITH FORK".

Wrong.  1. You CAN'T eat this salad with a fork. I mean its more hard than with chopsticks.



As you can see in the picture above, there are beans, and if you can see there are small little black lines that probably look like worms to you, but that is called HIJIKI. This isn't something that you can pick up easily with a fork.  Forks involve stabbing your food. If you stab those beans, it breaks them in half, or they slip away. Its much easy to pick them up with chopsticks (unless someone wanted to pass me some tongs). Even a spoon would make things more easy.

As for the hijiki, it is too small to be stabbed with a fork, so the only other good way to eat is to use a spoon (which I wasn't provided). Of course picking up the Kabocha and lettuce and other large items would be easy to get with the fork, however the small things, no.

People might say to just suck it up and deal with the fork but its not something I would do and its not something other Japanes would do either. I have seen many times at an actual western style restaraunt where they do give people by default, a fork or spoon to eat with. I have seen customers ask for chopsticks. So if these people don't just "deal with it" why should I? It is what I find more easy to eat with, it is what I need to eat with.

This is the reason why Japanese people eat salad with forks, the ingredients are different often and its just easier to pick it up with chopsticks. You would think that salad is considered western food, but its not. Salad is eaten in Japan just as it is in many countries, though in Japan a lot of times the salad ingredients are much different. There are some things that Japanese people only eat with a fork (Spaghetti), but Salad is something that you eat with chopsticks, it is just more easy that way.

Even easier is using your hands though.. (Guess I should go on a trip to India ^^)


  1. Sounds like it's just that they're trying to be considerate, although I understand how it would get annoying.
    Besides, I'm having trouble believing that you've never used a fork to scoop things up with. Stabbing things isn't the only thing forks do you know. It just seems like you're being fussy.

    1. Eating this salad with a fork is like eating limpton chicken noodle soup with a fork. I had to attempt to do that once in Canada when I had no more spoons that were clean.

      It was impossible. The noodles kept falling.

      As I explained in the post, the beans and the hijiki are the problem with this salad. Beans are round and roll right off the fork unless you move really slow, and the hijiki is very small.

    2. You can't compare that salad to soup, unless you chuck said salad into a bowl of water or some other liquid.
      Would they be more comparable to peas/corn and bean shoots or something? That would be a lot more understandable.

    3. Hijiki is the same shape as the chicken noodles in chicken noodle soup. You just can't scoop them up with a fork well.

    4. I think she was just trying to be accommodating. If she was judging you by your appearance it doesn't seem negative. Or else maybe she spit in your salad =)

    5. Judgeing someone on how they look is WRONG. not accommodating. That is wrong on so many levels. You don't look at people and assume what they are and what they want.

  2. OMG now I understand all my Japanese friends in Japan.

    In the city I come from in USA, there is no Chinese or Japanese food, so people can't use chopsticks there. I didn't know how when I came to Japan and I was eating salad with my fork, but everyone else kept asking me "is it hard?" "難しそう"

    I didn't understand why because I didn't know how to use chopsticks, but now 4 years later I can. Ofcourse chopsticks is better for the small corn and stuff you can always find in Japanese salad.

  3. I hate in non-Asian countries that I have to even ask for chopsticks, and that they're not put out with the other utensils. I understand that in THIS circumstance they're probably not asked for as often, but I have a really hard time eating Asian cuisine with anything but. I'd prefer to use chopsticks all the time, if I could.

    1. Well of course in non-Asian countries they don't give you chopsticks. You go to another country, your follow their way. I hate in Canada that immigrants get catered to. They are in our country so they so follow our ways, the same as if we went to their country we would follow theirs.

    2. Thats not true at all. In Canada they give you chopsticks if you go to a restraunt that sells asian food. If they didn't give you chopsticks it would be so suprising.

      It would be just as suprising if you went to a spaghetti restraunt in Japan, and didn't get a fork. Or a curry rice shop and not getting a spoon.

  4. It's totally possible to eat that salad, especially beans, with a fork. In Europe we use a fork and knife in a different way. Amaricans are used to stab with a fork or what ever. I'm from Europe and I could totally eat that salad with a fork. It's just that you are not used to or haven't learned how to do it. No problem, but I think you are a little bit over reacting on this matter.
    Try to understand the restaurants, they are just trying to be considerate, not to piss people off. Besides, maybe they've had complaints from Americans when they didn't serve the dishes with a fork. They don't know that you CAN eat with chopsticks, they're not psychics

    1. This is Japan and you arn't to treat anyone different, same rules applies all around the world.

      You shouldn't look at someone and assume that they can or can't do stuff because of their race.

      They don't do that for Japanese people, because its rude.
      The same should happen to everyone, its bad buisness.

      If in Canada a Chinese person walked into a restraunt and was given a chinese menu randomly without even knowing if they can speak Chinese or not, its racist.

      If a Black person walks into a Cd store and the clerk runs over and say 'right this way to the hip hop section' it would be racist.

      If a Japanese person walked into a spaghetti restraunt in Canada and recived chopsticks, its racist.

      Treating someone different because of their race is wrong. Stop making excuses that they were trying to be nice, doesn't make it right and its NOT an excuse.

    2. Underestimating others is a sign of ignorance. Everyone seems to be insistent that what they can't do- NO ONE CAN DO.

      Sorry, but I can eat water with a fork if I wanted to. Been using one my whole life, just like the sticks you people are so proud of being brought up with.

      Life's little surprises never cease to amaze me. That eating with pieces of wood can be considered more 'elegant' is just laughable and shows the dream land people live in. If you haven't noticed, we are animals. You are still smashing organic matter with your teeth, only to crap it out tomorrow, who do you think you're fooling?

      Some day, a more advanced people will tell stories about races of humans that would pluck living creatures out of polluted water and shove chunks of their flesh into their mouths with sticks. Oh, so elegant.

    3. You may be able to eat water with a fork, but I certianly can't do that at all. I drink my water with my mouth directly from a cup.

      I don't think eating with chopsticks is more elegant, eating is just eating. If I had a choice to rebuild this world, we would all eat with our hands.

    4. Who said they were being racist at all? They probably were trying to be considerate by giving you a fork. They don't know that you can use chopsticks and they probably thought it would be more polite to give you a fork. Did they say anything like "Here have a fork because you're foreign and can't use chopsticks like us"? No? They didn't say anything like that! If it really bothered you, you could politely ask for chopsticks instead. The misunderstanding would be cleared up right away. Or when buying products that come with a fork or chopsticks, ask them kindly for chopsticks. Yes it is Japan and there is the whole "rules apply to everyone" but you aren't Japanese and a lot of the time rules will slide for you. It's just how it is, they don't know how long you have lived there or anything. You could have only being visiting for all they know.... As much as you expect them to consider how you feel about the situation, you should consider how they feel too.

  5. I hate when people try to make up good reasons as to why the Japanese do this. It is not good to treat a customer any different because of the country they are from.

    1. Ahh, nothing better than people starting off a complaint about racism with "I hate it when the Japanese do [this]"

      Pot, meet kettle.

  6. I agree they were trying to be considerate as well. They probably assumed you were a tourist and didn't want to embarrass you to make you ask for a fork if they provided chopsticks. I watch a lot of SMAPXSMAP.. They eat with forks quite often,...but I can see how this salad would be confusing with a fork

  7. Wow, your life is so hard.
    Stop making everything a race issue.

    And FYI, I've eaten wakame salad with a fork before. It's not a huge deal.

    1. Thank you, she is so full of herself and overdramatic about everything!

    2. it IS a race issue. are you an idiot?

    3. No, are you?
      Your only argument is an Ad Hominem logical fallacy, so I'm pretty sure I'm not the idiot here.

    4. Seriously. She really does complain about anything and everything.

    5. I have never once seen her complain. This is a big issue. You shouldn't be treated different because the color of your skin. You are just trolling.

    6. Sometimes convenience store workers just give you forks.
      It just depends on the worker and the store.

      I've been to Japan and gotten forks given to me at the convenience store, and I AM JAPANESE so they were not assuming I couldn't use chopsticks.


  8. This happened to me often in Canada. I live in Vancouver, and there is a large Asian population here, which means tons of Asian restaurants. During highschool, my friends and I (whom were all Chinese) went to this Chinese restaurant for lunch. We pretty much all ordered the same stuff, but when they brought them out, I was handed a spoon. ??? A spoon to eat chicken? Are you fcking with me? All my friends got chopsticks but I got a goddamn spoon. I was so pissed, and asked for chopsticks. I understand that this is Canada, but honestly, if I don't know how to use chopsticks, I will ask for another utensil myself. No need to assume I can't eat with chopsticks. Anyway, I know where you are coming from. It's a small thing, but it's kind of annoying.

  9. I can see this being annoying to someone who has lived in Japan for awhile. And in all honesty it is a race issue, but with all the bigger race issues in our world calling this out is pretty petty. Normally I would call this out is a much harsher tone but from reading your whole post I see that this time it actually caused you to lose time from your lunch break. In America losing 5 min of you lunch would be no big deal, cause most people would just take an extra 5 min. But in Japan which is a extremely punctual society you do not really get that option. My take is you are more upset about losing time out of your day to this, then actually getting a fork instead of chopsticks.

    PS: Carry your own chopsticks, JK, lol

    1. Carry a portable stainless steel chopsticks, fork and spoon set maybe the way to go. Don't need to deal with other people assumptions about you. And if washed and carried probably, more hygienic then whatever is handed to you.

      It is not like the manufacturer washed the chopsticks or forks to be completely chemical free. Even if they do, how do you know if the shop store or handles them right? Honestly, the open box of plastic fork or spoon could have sit there collecting dust and bacteria. As for the chopsticks, how clean is the factory before they were wrap in paper or plastics?

      Since I'm being paranoid about these utensils, I should be more worry about the clear plastic container that holds your salad. Ahhh... tasty hint of polypropylene. :)

  10. I FEEL YOU!

    I got it even worse. We went to sushi and my family got FULL SET! Fork + Spoon + Knife. We were so shoked.

    That worker got fired..maybe.

    My Japanese friend got angry at the worker.

    1. That's crazy... I'm surprised that they even had forks and knives.

    2. Getting someone fired over a damn fork?? Are you crazy?!

      Get over yourselves, and just ask for the utensils you want!

  11. Interesting! It's cool to see how vastly different the salads are. (And here I thought eating salad with chopsticks would be harder.) O_O;
    I must try a Japanese salad one day, as they look a lot more filling in comparison to a western one.

  12. I think you are reading way too much into it. I wouldn't mind being given a fork in Japan, I wouldn't feel offended. Plus Japan is no way near as multicultural as Canada nor shares the same history, so you can't even compare it the other way round. I think you find it annoying because you want to integrate so much and been seen as almost Japanese.

    1. If you won't mind it thats fine. I have black friends in Canada who don't mind automatically being assumed they do drugs and maybe know where to buy a gun. Doesn't make it right.

      Steriotyping someone doesn't make it right.

      This has nothing to do with integrating, this has to do with treating someone different, which I am all against.

      That worker didn't do their job proper. In Japan, you eat certian food with chopsticks, certian food with fork, certian food with spoon.

      If I recived chopsticks with Curry rice, I would have had the same 'wtf' reaction.

      At the end of the day, if this was a Race issue, or if that person was just an idiot. We will never know.

    2. Wait, wut? What kind of comparison is that?! You always take extreeeeme comparisons that are out of proportion. Assuming a black guy does drugs and carries a gun just cos hes black is a BAD, NEGATIVE CLICHE. Assuming a white person (european/american) prefers eating with a fork is like.....uh....actually true for most people and it's not something bad to do or be ashamed of. It's just a goddamn fork. And seriously? I could totally eat this salad with a fork without any problems...cos yeah, stabbing into your food isnt the only way to use a fact, i dont even use it much for stabbing. With all due respects, but you're making a problem out of nothing. Now it happened once, now you know how you can avoid it. Just always make sure they put chopsticks with your meal.

  13. Seriously? Wow. You must be really insecure about being caucasian. And at the same time, you're really self centered. Don't you think that maybe the staff was thinking what was easy for you? Discrimination? Really?lol I would think twice too if I had a foreigner for a customer, because I would like to offer what's best for him or her.
    You might think, "Then why not just ask which one I want?" From reading your blog, you'll probably complain

    And yes we do eat salad with fork aswell thank you. It's not a right or wrong for this, we can use both. So how do people in US (Canada in your case) eat their beans? With chopsticks? Seriously doubt that. I'm not even going to explain how to use your fork for beans lol

    You should have a bigger mind. You take these sort of things in a negative way often when you're not even sure as to why he or she gave you a fork rather than chopsticks. Get out of your little shell and look around more for a second. Or else you're going to get stressed over such small things.

    1. I love being white. Asside from that.

      The point is, you don't treat people different because of race.

      Are you saying it is ok, in Canada, for staff to give chinese looking people chopsticks? No.

      Are you saying its ok, in Canada, for people to hand out curry sause at mcdonalds to indian staff because they 'might feel more comfortable with that flavor'? No.

      This is not ok. And it is not ok for staff to ASSUME what I want.
      If I wanted a fork, I can ask for a fork.
      The default for salad in Japan is chopsticks.

      Discrimination IS thinking twice. You don't need to judge peoples wants and needs baced off race.

      In Canada, beans are not found in Salad, nor is hijiki.

      I am well aware in Japan that you can eat a salad with a fork, but not this kind. There are times where peope eat salad with a fork in a restraunt, default is chopsticks.

      Same goes for harumaki, chopsticks
      Tempura = chopsticks

      In Canada those items are eaten with hand.

      In Canada, beans are eaten with a spoon, same goes for corn.

      You are right though, that person could have just been an idiot and not seen what I ordered. In that case that person should pay more attention, I didn't order spaghetti.

    2. I'm Japanese, and I must say... I'm annoyed when I read these kinds of defensive, right-wing/nationalistic comments.

      So go away, random Japanese nationalist... guy.

      Anyway, I do believe that most Japanese people tend to eat salad with a fork. But for beans and stuff... well, maybe. I eat salad with a fork. Actually I'm not even a big fan of chopsticks. They ALWAYS manage to fall off to the ground. I hate that.

      The general rule of thumb in Japan is this... for "Western" food, you use forks/spoons. For "Asian" (Japanese/Chinese/Korean etc) food, you use chopsticks (but I don't believe that spoons are "Western", I believe they also existed in China?). But what is considered "Western" food and "Asian" food is generally blurred. Some old-fashioned people may be stubborn and insist on eating EVERYTHING with chopsticks. They may even feel proud when they are handed chopsticks at a restaurant, and they might say something like "I'm Japanese, and I eat everything with a chopstick!" However these people are rare... I'm pretty sure that most Japanese people would feel annoyed when people think that all Asian people ONLY eat with chopsticks (which they often do). It's annoying, only because it's not true. So maybe you can see where Mira is coming from.

    3. Again, you're generalizing things from your experience. No, chopsticks are not default for salad in Japan. And yes I'm Japanese and I live in Japan, before you start saying I don't know anything. And if you can't eat hijiki and beans with forks, that's your problem. It's not impossible.

      Like someone said above, I also get forks at times so it's nothing new and you need to calm down. If the staffs were saying "oh gaijin", or acting weird to you, then I'd understand. But you're just like those crazy claimers that get ticked off on the smallest things and misunderstanding.

      If your so picky and hurt that you didn't receive chopsticks, then maybe you should watch while they put your stuff in the bag. Because you generalizing Japan like this is quite annoying, and it just makes you look ignorant.

    4. Mira is right, in Japan we use chopsticks even to eat salad. Salad is not western food, in Japan we have many salad we eat in Japan for many years before western food came to Japan. If I got a fork, I would be shocked too.

    5. As an Asian American, I would be completely appalled if I walked into a restaurant in America and someone gave me chopsticks just because I'm Asian.

  14. I am white too and live and work in the Tokyo and I get this kind of things too. Last time I go to the city office to get some informations. I went up to the desk to request for some informations and I was saying in Japanese! The lady say to me "I'm sorry let me find English Papers!" then ran away to a man who ran away into other rooms. I told her "I can read Japanese so the regular packet is fine can I have that one please? I am also in hurry!" she just saying again "Just one moment!" many minute later the man come back and saying "I'm sorry we don't have that packet in English!" I got very frustrated because actually I am from Ukraine and English not my mother language but I know fluently Japanese because I live here 8 year and graduate a university here. I am not very good in English so I got very frustrate and saying to her "Truthfully I do not speak the English well! I am from Ukraine! Please can I just the Japanese packet?" She give embarrass look on her face and give me the papers I need. I was make late for my train and late to pick up my baby from a hoikuen so I was very unhappy about that. I wish Japanese do not always think that all white people in Japan are speaking in English and love cheese burger! I hate cheese burger but all Japanese people think I love. Is very frustrating!

  15. You are waaaaay over thinking this. And, it is totally possible to eat that salad with a fork (I live in Japan as well, and I've done it... not that difficult). You're being too dramatic. I get being offended by blatant racism -- extremely common in Japan -- but this was just someone trying to be helpful. OR maybe, just maybe, it had nothing to do with appearance at all and someone tossed in the wrong item by mistake. Maybe they ran out of chopsticks at that time and gave you what they could.

    Just because you don't like something that happened, it doesn't mean someone was being racist. At the 7-11, they ran out of my favorite drink and onigiri. Did they neglect to stock it because they knew the gaijin was coming? No. It's just something that happened.

  16. Being considerate or not it is Japanese food in Japan she should have gotten chopsticks. If she was trying to be considerate she would have also slipped in a fork but I'm pretty sure Mira spoke to her in Japanese. You learn to use chopsticks way before being fluent in Japanese in most cases so I think you could tell the difference between new gaijin or citizen gaijin. I understand and something like this has happened to me but in Mexico, I'm Mexican American and they gave me a spoon to eat my beans while everyone else ate with tortilla and I was like umm.... I know how to properly scoop beans with torilla ... lol.

  17. Perhaps one route shops could get around the problem is not to give include any implements by default, but have a container of disposable forks / chopsticks nearby so if the customer isn't carrying around implements of their own, they can choose whichever suit them best (by the sounds of things, in most cases the chopsticks, but if they get a lot of ignorant tourists visiting...)

  18. Looking outside,I don't think that the person did do it intentionally,meaning ,"white people can't use chopsticks.hahaha" But you have to realized and accept that because the vast majority of people living in Japan are Japanese they don't have daily exposer to other cultures. There is no real exposer to other people like our home countries so in turn they don't know a thing about us. And you can't really take it to heart what that person did, they just don't know(ignorance).
    But with this you can potentially use your platform(youtube) to educate not only those seeking to live in Japan, but Japanese who live in Japan about your culture/country Familiarized them,expose them,so (very simple)things like this won't happen.

    -Asides from that in my brutally honest opinion, you could of ask for chopsticks, or say i can (fucking) use chopsticks. or not take it to heart,you are living in a culture that is slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo00000000oooooow in social/culture development,and Welcome to the world of problems immigrating to any new country! good luck!

  19. uhm... racism shit and everything else aside.
    have you ever thought about the very obvious possibility to just NOT stick the fork into you salad and just scoop the salad with it?!
    (also, guys, u can bring ur own fucking reusable chopsticks with u as well and do something for the environment...)

  20. Somehow I doubt that they purposely planned on giving you a fork because you're not asian JUST to make you feel discriminated against. It was either their attempt at being considerate or they simply just gave you a fork. If only you would realize that this small bit of "discrimination" is nothing compared to what millions of other people experience around the world because of their race.

    1. lmao! I love how you post two rude comments, and then you decide to post a half decent argument. Except you are completely arguing against stuff I never said.

      I don't know why you think that I said they PURPOSELY did it to make me feel sad.

      People don't purposely discriminate, knowing the other will get upset. That is why it is discrimination. They do it because they feel they are different, and thus should be treated different. They have no idea the other person will feel harm.

      Nor did I say anything about this being the worst discrimination in the world, so don't act like I don't know other cases of discrimination would fall out as worse.

      Just because one gets worse treatement, doens't mean that less worse discrimination, shouldn't be talked about,

  21. In my country , we use chopsticks everyday but we seldom use it to eat salad , Salad is western food .
    I think you are ok because you are white ,they will forgive you.Maybe they will think I am rude cause I look like their people.

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  23. I usually like what you write or what you talk about in your videos, but this post annoyed me a little. I totally get the "not judge by race" part. However, you forget how far the japanese service mind goes. What they think when they give you a fork instead of chopsticks is: "how will this customer be able to enjoy this product to the fullest extent?". They have no idea whether you prefer chopsticks or forks but they will do whatever they think you want them to do. There is no "stupid gaijin- thinking" involved at all, but they are simply trying to give you the best possible service.

    Moreover, it is possible to eat Japanese sallads with a fork. I'm a non-asian foreigner and I get a fork sometimes and I really don't mind, because I know that they only wanted the best for me. The only problem for me is mental as it is considered bad habits to eat something with only a fork (and not using a knife) where I'm from. But that's just a cultural thing that'll get better the more times you do it.