Japan:Land of the Rising Sun...and tests, lots and lots of tests

Good morning everyone,

The weather forecast has taken a bit of a turn for the worse. They are now calling for overcast weather both today and tomorrow before turning to rain on Sunday. It'll get up to 24C today and then we'll see highs in the low 20s from tomorrow on.

Last week we looked at the top five Japanese autumn foods. And you know what’s kind of surprising? Japan doesn’t have an official “autumn foods certification exam.”

Japan has a test for pretty much everything else. You want to go to high school? Take the exam. You want to go to college? Take the exam. You want to show off how many kanji you know? Take the exam. You want to be a weather girl? Take the exam.

While some exams make sense, like for schools and work licenses, others are just… odd. And that’s why today we’re counting down the top five craziest Japanese certification exams.

There are so, so many of them out there that it was hard to choose just a few. I waded through hundreds of Japanese certification exams and narrowed it down to the ones that made me drop my No.2 pencils in shock.

So let’s get to it! Starting off with…

Honorable Mention: Rice Certification Exam

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Think you like rice? Think again. You’re not allowed to say anything about those sacred grains until you’ve passed the Rice Certification Exam.

Let’s make something clear right off the bat: the Rice Certification Exam is in no way necessary for anything ever. Even if it’s your dream to become a sushi chef – or even a fried rice chef – passing the exam would have absolutely no bearing on your future.

Also, like all the tests on this list, the Rice Certification Exam has no hands-on component. It’s just multiple choice and short answer questions about… rice.

Why does the exam exist then? The short answer: because Japan. The longer answer: because there are people out there who really, really (no even more than that) really like rice, and they want to show off how much they know.

Here’s what the official webpage says about its own exam:

“The Rice Certification Exam tests a wide knowledge of the various varieties of rice, its nutritional value, history, as well as its interaction with people and nations, dishes it’s used in, and foods that go with it.

“Those who wish to learn things that can improve their family’s health, or who want to/are currently working in the food industry, and even those who simply like rice are welcome to challenge their knowledge.”

That’s why the Rice Certification Exam is only an honorable mention: there might be some small benefit people could gain from studying for it, and it might make your resume stand out a bit. Or it might just make you look like a weirdo for taking the Rice Certification Exam.

But who cares about that; let’s get to the most important part: what kind of questions are on the exam?

Here are two example questions from the Rice Certification Exam. The first is for the easier level “A Rank” and the second one is for the harder level “Special A Rank.”

Q1: In 1978, which convenience store first started selling onigiri (rice balls)?
A: 7-Eleven
B: Lawson
C: Family Mart
D: Seico Mart

Q2: Which variety of rice is it said that China’s Yang Guifei ate regularly to stay beautiful?
A: White rice
B: Genmai (brown rice)
C: Red rice
D: Black rice (unmilled rice)

The answers: Q1 – A (7-Eleven), Q2 – D (black rice)

If you got those right, congratulations – you’re really good at guessing! And if you didn’t guess, well then maybe you want to head over to the official Rice Certification Exam website and sign up for this year’s upcoming test in November.

#5. Japanese Pro-Wrestling Certification Exam

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Again let’s be clear here: this is not a exam to become a pro-wrestler yourself. The Japanese Pro-Wrestling Certification Exam is merely a test for fans of the sport to show off to other fans how much of a bigger and better fan they are.

Here’s what the official website says about the exam:

“We fans of Shinnichi Pro-Wrestling experience all of the anger and tears that take place in the ring. We live our lives with our hearts in the wrestling world. And now we present to you a way to show off your passion by officially deciding who out there has the most detailed knowledge of the sport we love.”

And… that’s pretty much it! Unlike the Rice Certification Exam, I can’t imagine this one even having some sort of marginal real-world use outside of bragging rights. This exam is for hardcore Japanese pro-wrestling fans only, as evidenced by their example questions. Here’s a fun one:

Q1: Which wrestler who is good at dancing also aggravated their dispute with Zero-One MAX and recently joined K-DOJO as the Ω member?
A: El Samurai
B: BXB Hulk
C: Yujiro
D: Ryusuke Taguchi

The answer: Q1 – D (Ryusuke Taguchi)

Oh, uh… yeah, of course! How could we have possibly forgotten?

To be fair, if you’re a Japanese pro-wrestling fan, then that answer was probably pretty obvious (and you should probably check out the official test website).

At least by taking the test you get to show off how big a fan you are of something you love, unlike the next item on our list….

#4. Retirement Power Certification Exam

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Crap, grandpa’s going to retire soon… what do we do? Make him get a hobby? Find him an easy part-time job?

No, wait! Let’s just keep him busy by having him study for the Retirement Power Certification Exam!

Yup, that’s right. This isn’t a class where you get to ask questions about retirement or hear other people’s experiences, this is an exam (with official study materials) that you memorize information for. You’d think by the time people were nearing retirement they’d have had enough of pointless busywork like this, but this exam is so popular it’s carried out twice a year, so who are we to judge?

While planning for retirement is definitely a good idea, I don’t see the point of having an exam. If you’re going to read and memorize a lot of information on the topic, then what’s the point of taking a test at the end? You’re an adult; you don’t need a number score to tell you whether or not you’ve learned something anymore!

But here we are. We live in a world where the Retirement Power Certification Exam exists, and we’re going to look at some sample questions from it:

Q1. If your medical expenses for the year are _____ yen or more, then it can be deducted from your income tax if you file a return.
A: 50,000
B: 100,000
C: 200,000

Q2. The system where an elderly person gives up their house/land as collateral for a loan, and it only has to be repaid after they die with the collateral sold as real estate, is known as a _____.
A: Reverse mortgage
B: Fixed-term lease
C: Real estate investment trust

Q3: The deadline for submitting the declaration of inheritance tax is _____ from the day following the start of the inheritance.
A: 3 months
B: 6 months
C: 10 months

The answers: Q1 – B (100,000), Q2 – A (reverse mortgage), Q3 – C (10 months)

ZZZzzzZZZzzz… huh? Oh, it’s done?

Er, I mean… wow, that was fun! Honestly, nothing quite gets the blood-pumping like a multiple-choice test about retirement. If that sounds good to you too, then check out the official Retirement Power Certification Exam website.


Actually, this blog was getting a bit long, so I've split it into two sections. If nothing happens between today and tomorrow (and if I don't forget) I'll post the three strangest tests in Japan tomorrow...or the next day...or, well, whenever I remember....

Have a great day!


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