Last time I talked about various ways in which the Japanese custom of taking off shoes while at home has influenced the culture here. I remember meeting a Japanese man once who said to me, “Because you’re a Westerner, I’ll bet you’re not good at picking objects with your feet.” I demonstrated my podiatric dexterity for him by dropping a pencil on the floor and picking it up easily with my toes, which surprised the man. His way of thinking — that Japanese feet are “special” in some way — was an example of what’s called Nihonjin-ron, a word meaning “theories and discourse about the Japanese people.” In a nutshell, the word describes the idea that the Japanese people are unique and special, which is why it’s hard for foreigners to learn the language (Japanese brains are designed to learn Japanese more easily), and so on. It’s quite silly, of course — there are no fundamental differences between Japanese people and the rest of the world except for a tendency for their females to make cute and endearing gestures, but it’s part of the Japanese cultural identity to think of themselves as unique.
The Japanese will often think of themselves as being totally unique and special. No idea where they’d get that idea from.