I attended a talk at SXSW and the chef Paul Qui had a great quote but I don't know how to spell the work in English (and Japanese) and could use some help. Here is the quote, with the best attempt at the word as I could manage.

I don't know what that dream project is and I am always in search of that dream project. In Japanese there's a term called shokaneen that means to be the master of something, but nobody is ever shokaneen you're always to trying to chase (that) to be a master in whatever that is. For me, whatever that dream is—and I don’t know what it is—I keep on chasing it.

  • 7
    Best guess I can make is that you heard either 職人 (shokunin, lit. workman or artisan) or 商売人 (shoubainin, lit. merchant or expert in a given trade).
    – Cat
    Mar 15, 2015 at 20:07
  • 職人 is definitely to what that's pointing: "a true craftsman" or "true artisan"
    – sova
    Mar 16, 2015 at 5:22
  • By the way, it is pronounced "show- koo- neen" and has roughly the same meter as the english word "magazine"
    – sova
    Mar 18, 2015 at 20:17
  • @Eric maybe post 職人 as an answer?
    – Kimball
    Mar 27, 2015 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


Since I'm guessing you're intending the ee sound as approximately that of "between", that's represented by i in romaji, making the end nin, which refers to people, appropriately enough.

However, I couldn't think of (or find) any word shokanin or shoukanin, or even shokkanin, so I had to take a few liberties.

I think the word you most likely heard is actually 職人 (shokunin, lit. workman or artisan). It doesn't precisely mean "master" by any stretch, but it fits the idea of always working hard to perfect one's craft.

(Note: Converted from a comment in lieu of other answers.)

  • 3
    +1 because answering unanswered questions is good and healthy for this site. And now that I think about it, the u in shokunin is sometimes devoiced/barely audible; and in English the a in shokaneen could sound like a schwa (as in probability). So I think the intended sound of shokaneen might actually be quite close to 職人 (as it sounds to an English speaker).
    – blutorange
    Mar 27, 2015 at 15:49

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