I am the FIRST American Junior Vegetable Sommelier (with 99.999999% certainty)

Long story short – It seems like I am the FIRST American person to become a Junior Vegetable Sommelier. At the very least, I can say that – I am the first American with a non-Japanese name to receive the title of Junior Vegetable Sommelier.


Okay, now for the full story. Here is the evidence supporting my claim. The evidence come directly from the Japanese Vegetable Sommelier Association in Japan.

My  thanks to Kosuke for corresponding under my name. And a special thanks to Ms. Maeda at the Japanese Vegetable Sommelier Association, who provided us with so much helpful information!

Opening my box of Vegetable Sommelier study materials back in February 2015…

ASIDE  – The Japanese are so good at collecting data.

Actually before we jump into the exciting news, I want to take a moment to recognize the extremely diligent data collection habits of Japan. Ms. Maeda at the Vegetable Sommelier Association did not skip a beat when we asked how many people had applied for the exam from outside Japan. She was able to easily report numbers and even provide further details, like rates of passing and the breakdown of applicants with Japanese versus non-Japanese names.

I should not have been surprised. In 2013, I witnessed the ability of Japan to maintain impressive collections of data. Japan has a country-wide koseki system (roughly translated as “family registry”). Basically a koseki is record of births/deaths/marriages/children within a family. Three years ago back in 2013, Kosuke and I went searching for the koseki of my Japanese ancestors. We were tracing back 3 generations, since it was my great-grandfather who had immigrated to California from Japan. 

Hunting down my family roots in Kamakura Japan.
Waiting for my turn…

We visited the city office in the region where my great-grandfather had been born. We showed paperwork proving I was my great-grandfather’s direct descendant. A short wait later and… I was holding a copy of the koseki in my hands showing my family tree back to the early 1800’s.

Holding my family’s registry! Thanks to Mr. Tanaka (on the right) who helped us organize all the paperwork necessary to make this happen.

Crazy!! I was so grateful for the culture of careful record keeping in Japan that made that moment possible.

Okay aside over – back to the news about my Junior Vegetable Sommelier License. Here is what I learned from Ms. Maeda.

  1. There have been 36 applicants for the Junior Vegetable Sommelier exam from outside Japan. 6 of those people had addresses in the United States. (I am one of the 6!)Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 12.01.14 PM.png
  2. Of the 6 applicants in the United States, only 1 person (THAT’S ME!) has a non-Japanese name.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-12-04-02-pm
  3. All 6 applicants from the United States (including me) passed the exam to gain the title of Junior Vegetable Sommelier. (Incidentally the passing rate for all applicants outside the United States is around 70%.)Screen Shot 2016-10-06 at 12.05.38 PM.png

Conclusion – I am the first person:

  1. living in the United States

  2. with a non-Japanese name

  3. who passed the Junior Vegetable Sommelier Exam

I’ll add this to my list of dubious honors. 🙂 Also on that list of dubious honors is “voted ‘best’ hair after 5 weeks living without showers.”

Ms. Maeda also told me that there have been no applicants from the United States (ro anywhere else outside Japan) for the next level of the Vegetable Sommelier exam. So if I take and pass that exam, I will be the first foreigner ever to achieve the second level.

Ready to embark on the challenge!!






7 thoughts on “I am the FIRST American Junior Vegetable Sommelier (with 99.999999% certainty)

  1. Jun Hee Hwang. says:

    I’m really surprised that first American with a non-Japanese name to receive the title of Junior Vegetable Sommelier.
    I can guaranty that your veggies and cooking is excellent!
    It is very healthy food and tasty also great.
    I really appreciated for inviting me your place.

    Liked by 1 person

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