It is official – I am now a Certified Japanese Junior Vegetable Sommelier!
The (very tiny) text reads:
This is to certify that the aforementioned person has successfully completed and passed the Junior Vegetable Sommelier examination, as organized by Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association, thus receiving the title of Vegetable Sommelier.
The Vegetable Sommelier Certification Exam
If you are new to my blog, welcome! And let me explain a little.
The “Vegetable Sommelier” title is a certification showing expert knowledge of fruit and vegetable characteristics and the best way to eat them.Vegetable Sommelier are experts about produce, just like wine sommelier are experts about wine.
The certification is administered by the Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association. To gain the certification, you must pass an examination (in Japanese!). There are 3 levels of Vegetable Sommelier certification: 1) Junior (my current level), 2) Standard, and 3) Senior.
Third Time’s the Charm!
So this is actually my 3rd time taking the exam. The first time, I could barely read through the entire exam booklet. The second time, I felt more confident on several sections but I had not finished studying the entire textbook. For the third time, I had actually studied the entire textbook and felt somewhat confident. In the end I was able to pass the test with just one week of extremely concentrated studying. Check out my week of StudyingStudyingStudying for the exam!
How My Scores Improved
There are four sections in the exam: 1) Vegetable Theory, 2) Communication, 3) Science, and 4) Cookery. Theory is worth 200 points, and the other sections are each worth 100 points. The exam is 2 hours long with about 250 multiple choice questions.
(If you are curious to read more about the exam experience, you can check out my Report from quest to become licensed Japanese “Vegetable Sommelier.”)
Here are my scores in each section from my 3 attempts.
Vegetable Theory (out of 200): 131 -> 140 -> 163
Communication (out of 100): 42 -> 77 -> 88
Science (out of 100): 26 > 52 > 78
Cookery (out of 100): 27 > 20 > 76
Final score: 405/500
I needed at least 350/500 to pass. So I passed comfortably.
When I opened the envelope, I was so excited that I kept jumping up and down. Actually it took a minute for me to register that I had passed. I was desperately scanning the letter inside looking for the words “Congratulations.” Even once I read the letter, I was not confident that I correctly read it and showed the letter to Kosuke. I kept asking, “I passed right? I passed right? Right??!” I am a very proud Junior Vegetable Sommelier and promptly framed my certificate to display on my desk.
My elation at passing the exam surprised me.
I mean, the exam has felt like a silly novelty hobby that I started on a whim. But the truth is that I was extremely extremely pleased to pass the exam. It felt like a real accomplishment. I had tackled an exam that even native Japanese speakers find challenging. I had memorized an entire textbook of material in my second language. I had learned to read words like “obesity epidemic” and “genetically modified.” After years of grinding away at graduate school with little indication of progress, achieving this small and measurable victory meant a lot to me. I burst with a greater sense of accomplishment than I have felt in years. I cried from happiness.
Try some sample exam questions!!
Maybe you’re wondering what kinds of questions appear on the exam… Here are a few sample questions (written in English) that reflect questions on the actual exam.
Q1: Which of these produce items are classified as “GMO” products in Japan?
A. Potatoes, corn, papaya
B. Wheat, peanuts, cotton
C. Soybeans, buckwheat, sugar beets
Q2: Including phrases like “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” is an example of
A. Using positives not negatives.
B. Using cushion phrases.
C. Using suggestion.
Q3: To help lower blood pressure, it is helpful to eat vegetables with lots of
Q4: Cooking ingredients in broth at 100 degrees Celsius is which type of cooking
B. Stir Frying.
(Answers: Q1 A, Q2 B, Q3 A, Q4 C.) How’d you do…?
So what’s next? The NEXT level (obviously)! For now though, I’m just going to enjoy this moment.
Read about my journey to learn Japanese, my love of Japanese cooking (especially veggies), and more on my About Me page!