Hazuka plant

(Physalis alkekengi)


The “Chinese Lantern” plant was cultivated in Japan ever since the Edo period as a medicinal plant, believed to relieve fever and ease the discomfort felt by pregnant women. The belief originates in a 200 years old story that took place in the Seisho-ji Temple from Shiba (Minato-ku, Tokyo)


These Hozuki(Physalis alkekengi) fruit are a bright orange color and also nicknamed Japanese or Chinese lanterns.

Like the ladies of Prince Genji’s court, the hozuki (Physalis alkekengi) hides its beauty behind a veil. The veil is an unusual, lantern-shaped pouch, which protects the berry. It forms from the small “cap” of sepals after the flower has faded. At this time of year, you can find pretty white flowers at the top of the plant, as well as green lanterns that have already formed toward the base. As the fruit matures, the lanterns change to a lovely orange-red color, and by winter some fade to lacy “skeletons” revealing the fruit inside. The fruits are sometimes called “winter cherries” in English. In Japan they were used to make small toys and a tonic (they contain vitamin C).


Abundant and easily available physalis alkekengi (also known as strawberry or ground cherries)has inspire Mr. Keisuke Kuroki, a resident of Nishimera Village for making magical lanterns. He also teaches it to the visitors of Nishimera Village. It is worth mentioning that our Company Ai-road Inc. plans these exciting trips to encourage visitors to appreciate the beauties of Nishimera village and talents of its villagers. I tried making this stunning lantern with my husband during our trip in Nishimera. Every time we look at these wonderful art works we made, it reminds us of our wonderful trip and the sweet memories we made in there.


By: Ateffa Jalali

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Nishimera Select Shop

I am really impressed after knowing the reason behind the name of this amazing shop. Momo is the name of a children fiction story by the author of the never ending story, Michael Ende. It is the story of the time-thieves and the homeless girl “Momo”, who brought the stolen time back to the people. In other words, she is against civilization and wants to keep art, recreation, imagination and other social activities alive. Now that is exactly what this Momo collection shop does!!

Momo collection shop is an interpretation of the village. It depicts the happiness, pleasures, and beauty, of Nishimera Village and talent of its villagers’.


I couldn’t take my eyes off these amazing paintings specially the one portraying Hanabi Festival. As the population of this enchanting village is estimated as 1,298, it is a great place to visit for enjoying Hanabi Festival. Other places are usually very crowded during this festival so hard to enjoy it.


This unique shop has arts that portray every beauty and unique parts of this village; attractive origamis’; handmade loudspeakers and pens made from bamboo; Christmas tree decoration stuffs; and much more.



Oh how can I forget about the “Sekobozu” or ground cherry lantern?

Coming to an art promoting place, you may also want to make something to show your skills. You can try making this unique lantern I already have three at home. They remind me of the wonderful experiences I had in this enchanting village.  



In addition, there are many stationaries and other useful items like towels, umbrellas, insect bite bracelets and all the handy items you usually find in a convenient store, which is not available in Nishimera Village.



I also loved the balcony, which was a very simple yet pretty comforting place to sit while drinking coffee and starting daydreaming or any sort of imagination. I can assure you no noise will disturb you here.


In short, it is a complete package of exceptional arts and hand made things and obviously worth visiting.


By: Ateffa Jalali

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Camping at Aoshima Beach

Watching sunrise in the land of the rising sun!


Every new experience is exciting and has the power to make you thrilled easily. We could even feel some butterflies while we were planning for it.

August 12th was our 2nd wedding anniversary and we wanted to do something new, memorable and exciting. So we decided to go for camping in Aoshima beach.

It was just a one day camping but you wouldn’t guess so if you had looked at the luggage (camp equipment, tea, dinner, etc.). We carried them in our cycles to the train station and then went by train and few minutes of walking.

We enjoyed the dinner in the beach summer restaurant with wonderful lightings and music before we set up our tent.


Setting the tent was like building a small world of us and labelling one part of the beach by our name even if it is for one night.

Later, we were so tired already that the tea with dry fruits tasted just extra ordinary.

Actually, we weren’t allowed to make fire at the beach but they didn’t say we can’t light candles haha so that was what we did. It was hard to light them when the weather is little windy but we kinda buried half of the candles to light it up.


The weather was somehow hot so we preferred sitting outside the tent to do star gazing for a while.

The lights in the beach were on until 11:00pm I guess and soon everywhere got real dark and we thought we were the only ones left in the beach. Even wave sounds got louder to scare us, all at once!

After few minutes we could hear Japanese chatters and guess what we got unexpected company. There were two other groups a group of girls and a group of boys who were celebrating something; we didn’t ask what it was though.

We took three hours nap, actually I took a nap, but my husband was awake protecting me or what; any ways I enjoyed being a wife to be taken care of. Haha


It was 3:45 Am when he woke me up and we went for a walk and take something to drink. We could still look at wide shinning sky full of amazing stars.

The beach had started to brighten up a bit and we were excitingly waiting for the sunrise which is very popular in Japan. As the Japanese name of Japan is Nihon or Nippon that literally means ‘the sun origin’. Also,  it is translated as land of the Rising sun.   

And I know you can guess how wonderful will be swimming in the sea in the early morning or watching the sunrise from middle of the sea relaxing in a swimming tube. That was the most memorable and exciting part of the camping.


The experience was great, but I guess very short as the next morning we didn’t want to remove our camp or go back home. Next time we will do coming for longer than that.

By: Ateffa Jalali 

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Eid al-Fitr

Happy Eid To all!

eid gree.jpg

Eid al-Fitr, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. The religious Eid is a single day during which Muslims are not permitted to fast.

It is a festival celebrated very traditionally along with families, so it’s sometimes sad to be away from them in a foreign country. However, we have wonderful Eids even here in Miyazaki, Japan.

Wednesday, 6th July was first day of Eid al-fitr. At the night of Eid, Muslim women get together and do hena their hands. I love doing hena, so I painted many hands of our friends with it. For me, hena is an important part of Eid. I enjoy it a lot. When I was small I used to put hena and not wash it until morning to have a richer and brighter color. Waking up with the smell of hena in my hand was a great feeling then. Have a look at some of hena designs may be you would like it too.  


We started our first day of ‘Eid with Eid prayer followed by some tea and snacks together. Everyone looked so happy wearing their new and traditional clothes hugging each other, wishing happy Eid with smiles.

eid greetings.jpg

How can I forget about the tradition of giving “Eidi”, which is a gift like money or presents given to small children or someone smaller than you in Eid. I loved the act of one of our guest, Danial from Saudi Arabia, who is an exchange student and visiting Miyazaki for only two months, she gave Eidi to all small children from different countries. It touched my heart being a guest for a short time she was thinking of every one.   

After the prayer, Muslims visit their families and friends for having either tea or meal together. Our first day’s guests were our Egyptian friends and we went to beach after eating homemade Pizza together, a lunch after a month! I know we weren’t kids, but even we received Eidi and shared all our funny Eidi stories of childhood.


There is a common saying among Afghans that women have longer Eid like seven days haha. Following that tradition afghan women in Miyazaki keep visiting each other’s homes for drinking tea, cake and dry fruits for a longer time.

It is such a great feeling to enjoy food after one month of fasting but we will miss the precious and spiritual feeling we had in the holy month of Ramadan.  

By: Ateffa Jalali

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2nd Annual Iftar Tent Event

An event representing love, peace and cooperation of Muslims


Sunday 3rd July, was the second annual Iftar (Breaking fast) tent event which is held every year in the holy month of Ramadan http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/438977553.html , organized by MCM (Muslim Community of Miyazaki).

In this event all the Muslims of Miyazaki coming from different countries and speaking different languages cooperated as brothers and sisters representing the real brotherhood of Islam and made a prosperous event like this possible.

We were privileged by having honorable guests including Tsuyomu Ikenoue President of UOM, staff of UOM, many other respected professors and students .


We began our program with recitation of some verses of Holy Quran by Mr. Ziaurrahman Hejazi, followed by the informative speech of Mr. Ahmad Farid Azizi, President of MCM, and Prof. Tsuyomu Ikenoue.

Later, Mr. Abdul Jabar Maeda, who is a Japanese Muslim, gave speech about Islam and Ramadan.


The last speech was by me about Status of women in Islam. As most of time only the limits and restrictions of woman in Islam is discussed, I wanted to talk about rights and privileges of them. I could see the content of my speech was very surprising for some guests and I felt accomplished to answer those common questions about woman rights in Islam.  My husband and lively announcer of the event, Emran Nasery was little worried that his responsibilities increased after I knew even the small details about my rights haha. Yet he was not my target, because he is the best husband and has given me all my rights.


After my speech, it was time for Iftar and the food was organized in buffet style a very colorful dinner table with delicious international halal food from Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt and more.


All the guests enjoyed a lot.


The purpose of having such event is to show the world how loving, kind and generous Muslims are and all they want is having a peaceful life.

We ended the event after taking some memorable photos.



Waiting to see this large number of amazing guests increase in the next year.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Holy Month of Ramadan

A blessed month of mercy


Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month of fasting for Muslims. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam; the others are confession of faith, five daily prayers, Zakah (almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).

Ramadan starts and ends upon the sighting of the moon. The fast requires Muslims to abstain from food, drink, marital relations and ill-conduct during the fast.


Why Muslims Fast

Fasting in Ramadan is a main pillar of Islam that helps Muslim grow closer to the One God, Allah. According to the Qur’an “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint”. Fasting, which is recognized for its health, spiritual and psychological benefits, is considered by Muslims as a means to improve their moral characters and provides an opportunity for a spiritual renewal.

It is my second year to spend this blessed month in Miyazaki, Japan. It is very interesting and surprising for my colleagues and other Japanese friends to know we don’t eat from early dawn to sunset ( in Miyazaki around 16 hours). As a result, most of them now know the word Ramadan/ Ramazan through International Muslim friends, classmates or colleagues.

 ramadan dates.png

We start our fasting day with an early morning meal before dawn and break our fast after sunset with dates or water and followed by dinner or IFTAR.

We are lucky enough that even in Miyazaki we can do congregation prayers in our Muslim Community of Miyazaki (MCM) Center. In this prayer at least one-thirtieth of the holy Qur’an is recited. By the end of this month, the congregation would have listened to the recitation of the complete Quran.   

By the end of this precious month, every Muslim pays 7.00 $ (Fitrah) for poor people.

After Ramadan ends, every Muslim celebrates Eid-ul-Fitr, which is one of the major festivals in Islam. I will write in detail about it in the coming posts.


By: Ateffa Jalali

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Miyazaki International Festival May 22, 2016

An enthusiastic, energetic and memorable festival

I guess you feel more connected to your home town when you are living in another country. It feels awesome when you watch your country’s flag waving among other flags. The colors that show your identity in the group deeply touches your heart! The name you hear and feel you have always been and always will be connected to it !!


On Sunday 22nd May, I attended Miyazaki International festival. It was a really entertaining and memorable day. The festival started with an energetic Middle Eastern belly dance! It was followed by two relaxing and smooth Hula dances. The soft winds and music took us all to Hawaiian Islands for a while. It was beautiful!



Honestly, my favorite dance among them was Flamenco dance, which is an art form of Spain and includes singing, guitar playing, dancing, vocalizations, handclapping and rhythmic stamping of the feet.


They all did it very professionally, but I was more impressed by the dancer in navy blue dress. She was fabulously energetic and gave intense emotions. I could see the passion, proud, and carriage in her performance more obviously than others.



I guess the next one was Indonesian dance with remarkable facial expressions they were dancing more with their eyes than feet haha. Needs a lot of hard work.


Let me be honest about one more thing, though I was enjoying these dances I was impatiently waiting for the Afghan group dance. Obviously, the reason was my husband being part of it who danced with all the dancers without hesitating and of course the lively music of my country makes my heart beat faster.

 emy dance.jpg

Another amusing part was the Fashion Show! Knowing about the culture, music, and clothing of international students were really exciting. I loved the part when they didn’t just walk the red carpet, but danced in it. It was really cool!




Stage was crowded with plenty of stunning cultural costumes of different countries. Everyone could feel the fragrance of their countries through their music, national clothes, and dances.


The delightful festival ended with some great live singing and music group performances. Overall, it was a delightfully memorable day for all of us. Indeed, international festivals are always very fun so never miss it when u hear about one.




By: Ateffa Jalali

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Life is too short!

Do you remember when you were completely happy, were fully satisfied for all you have and no worries at all?

I do remember some, yet they aren’t as clear as all those days I have been worried about something, waiting for something and complaining about other things.

Last night’s earthquakes and around four or five horrible aftershooks, in Miyazaki city that were more severe in Kumamoto prefecture pushed me to think differently about how we really deal with our lives.

In just few minutes all the problems of life and things we take very seriously in it seemed so small and worthless.

 life quote.jpg

It’s said, “There is a good side in every bad things that happen”. If last night’s horrible earthquake made you realize how much you love your loved ones and how you can’t even imagine a minute without them and of course if it didn’t have a serious damage to your life, the earth quick wasn’t that bad right? Any ways, I know it sounds insane! It must be because of last night’s shook, bad dreams or lack of sleep. Just want to make myself feel better haha.


Life can be unexpectedly short, so why don’t we start being thankful; being happy without reason, and take life problems less seriously! We aren’t here to live forever!!

life enjoy little things.jpg

 By: Ateffa Jalali

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Nichinan City Tour 6th March

Obi Castle Town and Udo Shrine

You must have read about the first day of our trip to Nichinan City through my previous post, and if you haven’t here you got the link.  http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/434667158.html

After the tasty breakfast in Nichinan Daiichi Hotel, we started our stroll to Obi Castle Town. It was a nice rainy day

Obi Castle Town

A historical monument

Obi Castle was the main castle of the Ito clan during the Edo period (1603-1867).Prior to that time, many battles were fought between the Ito clan and the Shimazu clan, from neighboring Kagoshima, for possession of the castle.

The castle's front gate, and the "Matsuo-no-maru" hall have been carefully restored, and the stone wall which has surrounded the castle during the Edo period still remains.The area around Obi Castle is an important preservation district for Groups of traditional buildings.


I am really not much interested in history, but experiencing them from close rather than reading from books was not that bad. I was impressed by their clever ideas regarding the structure of the castle to protect it from its enemies.

My favorite part was trying the old traditional Japanese Kimono. I really loved it. It was heavy, colorful, and stunning. Everyone was looking like princess, warriors and Ninjas with those beautiful costumes. It actually took us back to ancient times.


My husband in ninja costume seems like really went deep into the character. Glad he didn’t get hurt or hurt anyone. haha

Next, we had a delicious lunch at Galley Kodama. We broiled the fish on shichirin, a small charcoal grill. I am really thankful from Nichinan Tourism Company for providing halal food for us and allocating time for our prayers.

It means a lot to us.


Vouchers exchange for free local specialties

Obi Castletown Walking Tour was another amusing part of the trip. This walking route map is a great bargain, which includes vouchers that can be used at any five of the 36 stores located near Obi Castle, as well as free-admission tickets for places such as history museums. We walked around the town and exchanged the vouchers for local specialty dishes, general merchandise, and even souvenirs.

Udo Shrine

The shrine inside a cave


The last destination of our trip was udo shrine. It was a unique shrine with a very impressive view. I had heard about cheese manju of Udo shrine so much that I just couldn’t miss it. It was mouthwatering and very delicious. Its cheese taste just fills my mouth, when I remember it.


Outside the cave there is a terrace among the rocks that has a target marked by rope in which people try to throw lucky balls. In case the ball lands in the target, it is thought to bring good luck.


We took a lot of pictures in this beautiful shrine and over all the trip and I am surely going to add them in my travel album. The pictures will keep the sweet memories alive for ever.

It was a wonderful trip and I can’t wait for the next one.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Nichinan City Tour

Forget the urban noise under blue sky

You know what I love about these trips is that they work like meditation for me, as if it charges my batteries and makes me very optimistic. After the trip I don’t even mind waking up early for work and the whole day I have a smile on my face whenever I remember the sweet and fun memories we made during the trip.

The trial trip “Omotenashi” tour to Nichinan City on 5th -6th of March, was a group trip with participants from America, Australia, Afghanistan, Canada, Egypt, Sri Lanka and many other countries.

Nichinan City

Nichinan City is on Japan’s southernmost main island, Kyushu, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is famous for unspoiled and beautiful coast line, attractive beach view, and the aroma of obi cedar tree.

We started this fun trip with Aburatsu area stroll, to know about historical structures and special nail less bridge, etc.


To be honest, the real fun started with the cruise. It was a beautiful day, a wonderful weather, clear blue sky, and had an awesome view!

I hope I won’t run out of adjectives by the end of this post. 


Next, we went to Marine Viewer Nango.  When we came back to the top part we were surprised to see so many falcons all together! That was the time cameras were shuttering faster to take perfect pictures. It was really exciting. These two are my favorite clicks.



Sun Messe Nichinan

Next destination was Sun Messe Nichinan, which is the only place in the world where restoration of Moai statues has been permitted and is a symbol of friendship between Japan and Easter Island. All over this park we could see reproduction of Easter Island Moai statues.



The view became even more enchanting as we went to higher hills. In fact, at the top hill, we visited the Sun hill geoglyphs of butterfly also known as “Butterfly Paradise”. The Pacific Ocean view was so amazing I didn’t want to leave the place. I guess everyone had the same feeling, as the bus waited longer than expected. 


After meeting and having dinner at Tomura restaurant, checking into Nichinan Daichi hotel was the last part of trip plan for first day. However, we couldn’t miss enjoying the refreshing weather and night view. I am glad we had a lovely night walk, yummy ice cream and a very warm chat with our new friends.


That was all about the fun moments we had on the first day of the trip. By now, you must have guessed how fun the second day would be. I will let you know in detail through the next post. 

By: Ateffa Jalali

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