As restrictions relaxed in Singapore and Malaysia, so did the restrictions in Japan! With more ways to celebrate the day, Nazaya, an Indonesian living in Japan and Arisa, a Japanese Muslim found themselves fully immersed in festivities 😍 If you're interested to find out what Eid is like in Japan, read on!
Hari Raya In Japan
1. Tell us a little about yourselves!
Hello, my name is Nazaya Zulaikha. I'm 32 y.o and an Indonesian. I stay in Japan because I am married to a Japanese! Plus, at the time of my marriage registration, I just happened to get a job in Japan. So both became reasons for me to stay in Japan!
This year, I celebrated Hari Raya in Japan because of pricey airplane tickets 🥲 and Golden Week. Hari Raya fell on Golden Week this year! In Japan, Golden Week is a week where four holidays are closely spaced together and observed at the end of April and the beginning of May. The four holidays are Shōwa Day (April 29), Constitution Day (May 3), Greenery Day (May 4), and Children's Day (May 5). And since my family and I already had plans to spend the holiday in Japan, we decided not to fly back.
My name is Nur Arisa Maryam, and I am a Japanese Muslim living in Tokyo. ☺️
2. How has living in Japan as a Muslim been like?
Nazaya: The good thing is, nobody cares about you here! It is your privacy as long as you don't disturb or bother others. They really respect others' privacy and I think it's a good thing. I can meet, interact, and be friends with other Muslims living in Japan since we have the same background as "anak rantau" (coastal kids), too! Hehe! However, it is still very challenging sourcing for halal groceries and places to pray. Mosques are not available everywhere. Plus, the heat in Japan can be tough in the summer. It's super humid in Japan when you're wearing the hijab!
Arisa: Alhamdulillah! I am really grateful that Allah SWT granted me the opportunity to experience living in Japan as a Muslimah. By Allah's mercy, I feel that it is getting easier and easier every year to live in Japan while following Islam.
3. What kind of ''culture shocks'' did you experience? How did you have to adapt to living in Japan?
Nazaya: There are two things I had to adapt to: how bland I find Japanese food and their strict work culture! Their work culture is so strict I usually arrive or finish my task before the allotted meeting time (at least 10 minutes before the meeting time. Sometimes I arrive 20-30 minutes before just in case of train delay or unexpected troubles). I try to make sure all my work is perfect (because most Japanese are detailed) before submitting it to clients. I also try to send them before the agreed time, that way I don't cause anyone trouble.
In terms of their food, although it's bland to me, I find myself so much healthier thanks to Japanese food! My weight has definitely benefitted from this as well! I have gotten used to Japanese food's seasonings, too, since I have to make Japanese food at home (it's way simpler to cook than Indonesian food!).
I am not sure if this last point counts as a culture shock, but I adore how everything in Japan is neat and in order: including procedures in the hospital!
4. How did you celebrate Hari Raya this year?
Credit: Shizuoka Muslim Association
Nazaya: In Japan, Hari Raya is only celebrated for a day! Some even only celebrate it for half a day before heading back to work. However since this year's Hari Raya fell on Golden Week, we celebrated it for a full day!
This year is the first time we are allowed to enjoy the holiday without any restrictions from the Japanese government, so many celebrated by gathering together. I saw many gathered together in small groups this Eid. Some ate together after the Eid prayer and some went to friends' houses that were close to the mosque.
However, since most of us hang out in communities of people from the same country, our Eid feasts included signature Eid foods in Indonesia like ketupat, opor ayam, gulai etc.! Not very different 🤭
I stayed at home and did a video call with my family in Indonesia! We greeted each other, said ''minal aidin wal faizin'' online, and talked for a while. Honestly, I felt a little alone since we don't have the same Eid vibes here in Japan the way we do in Indonesia. Plus, since I'm a writer, I spend part of the day interviewing Muslims in Japan about their Eid and how the Eid prayer is held in their area. In short, I was working on Eid. LOL!
Arisa: Islamic events such as Eid are not holidays in Japan. Therefore, if the day is not actively celebrated by ourselves, the schedule will be the same as a normal day. Many Muslims go to work or school after Eid prayers on Eid day, but if they get a day off or it is on a Japanese holiday or on the weekend, they celebrate Eid with family and friends. If they can't, they may have Eid parties at weekends or other times, so it depends on the individual. In my case, I am currently a student of Islam and I do not have classes during the week of Eid.
This year's Eid was during Golden Week holiday in Japan, so I was able to spend Eid with my family after performing the Eid prayer. I see many foreign Muslims living in Japan often visit one another and get together with Muslims from their own country to celebrate Eid, and there are also Eid events in mosques around Japan that are open to all religions and nationalities. There is no particular specification on the food to be eaten on Eid. There are Muslims from different countries in Japan, so in a way, one good thing about Eid in Japan is that you can eat food from all over the world!
5. Did you attend Raya prayers? What was it like?
Credit: Shizuoka Muslim Association
Nazaya: I didn't manage to! 🥲 The mosques are very far away from my home and unfortunately I couldn't make it with my little toddler who is in her "troublesome twos"! 😂 However, I kept myself updated on the Eid prayers in Japan and I was very surprised to know that people were queuing for a long time just trying to get into the mosque! One of my friends said he waited for about an hour or so queuing. He was fortunate to get the last Eid prayer slot at Tokyo Camii mosque, but he definitely didn't expect to queue for such a long time!
Credit: Courtesy of Arisa
Arisa: Yes. Alhamdulilah. I went to the Tokyo Camii Mosque, the largest mosque in Tokyo, for Eid prayer. There were many Muslims, so the prayers were held more than scheduled. The queue in front of the mosque was very, very long, which was very surprising. I was very happy to see Muslims of different nationalities and races wearing colourful clothes and gathering at the mosque.
What surprised me was that when I went to the Eid prayer in the mosque, there were many non-Muslims there. They seemed to have come to the mosque to celebrate Eid with their Muslim friends. Tokyo Camii Mosque is open for non-Muslims on a daily basis, but I didn't expect that they would also come to the mosque to see our Eid prayer. In fact, I also had attended Iftar and Eid celebrations before I reverted to Muslim, so I really pray they will get hidayah.
11. Do you have any tips for future travellers travelling to your city in Japan?
Nazaya: I'm living in Saitama city in Saitama Prefecture and we have a lot of attractions to visit instead of crowded Tokyo! It's a little bit of a distance away, but still conveniently accessible from Tokyo.
Saitama has a theme park, Moomin Valley Park (that comes with Metsa Village) - it's very popular among locals - and even a huge national park with flowers! You should also check out the Kyoto-like traditional city view in Kawagoe, the Instagrammable museum in Tokorozawam and more! If you love adventure, you can challenge yourself by camping or experiencing river sports in Nagatoro too!
Arisa: Tokyo is a very large city. You will experience a lot here. The main focus tends to be on enjoying general sightseeing, but I would be happy if you could also see Islam in Japan when you travel here. This will allow you to enjoy Tokyo from many different angles, InshaAllah.
Hari Raya / Eid celebrations are definitely very different in Japan as compared to Singaporean and Malaysian celebrations! 😍 How's Hari Raya / Eid celebrated in your country? ☺️