2016年10月11日

Hazuka plant

(Physalis alkekengi)

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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)

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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).


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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.

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By: Ateffa Jalali

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2016年08月25日

MOMO

Nishimera Select Shop
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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’.

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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.


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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.

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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.  

http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/434128943.html

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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.


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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.

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

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By: Ateffa Jalali

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2016年08月16日

Camping at Aoshima Beach

Watching sunrise in the land of the rising sun!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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2016年07月08日

Eid al-Fitr

Happy Eid To all!

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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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2016年07月04日

2nd Annual Iftar Tent Event

An event representing love, peace and cooperation of Muslims

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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.

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All the guests enjoyed a lot.

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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.

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



By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 13:46 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年06月14日

Holy Month of Ramadan

A blessed month of mercy

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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.

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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.

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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.

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By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 13:04 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年05月23日

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 !!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 14:23 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年04月15日

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.

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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.

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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!!

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 By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 09:38 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年03月10日

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 09:42 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年03月07日

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 13:33 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年03月03日

GIAHS in Japan

(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems)

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GIAS has the vision of dynamic conservation of all agricultural heritage systems and their multitude of goods and services, for food and livelihoods security, now and future generations.

GIAHS initiatives promotes public awareness, national and international recognition of Agriculture Heritage Systems. It connects agriculture, forestry, traditions and culture of Forest-utopia.

In 2002 FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) started an initiative for the dynamic conservation of GIAHS to safeguard and support world’s agricultural heritage systems.

In 2016 project of increasing the leverage, 36 areas of the world was certified by GIAHS, eight of which were from Japan.

In the GIAHS conference, in Miyazaki city (on 2nd March, 2016 ) attended by our company Ai-road Inc, it was explained that in these certified areas they encourage the farmers and residence to progress in efforts of branding agricultural products and other people to visit those places, experience regional activities and take advantage of the blessings from the forest.

In 1987, they stablished Takachiho world agriculture heritage promotion council. Later, in 2015 Takachiho town was recognized by GIAHS as an agriculture heritage area and was certified by FAO too.

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Other places like Gokase town and village, Hinokage Town, Morotsuka, and shiiba villages are also certified by FAO. The regions mentioned above, had water problems due to altitude slopes, which was solved by creating mountainside waterway. Those efforts resulted in having 1800 ha of terraced rice fields.

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The conference also discussed traditional cultures of the regions are also connected to agriculture. We can know about precious traditional cultures by visiting Takachiho town and Shiiba village. These traditions include singing “Hietsuki” songs by farmers during collecting the harvest or performing “Kagura” dance to thank for those harvests. These traditional cultures are extremely important as a Japan cultural and spiritual pillar.

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Preserving these priceless areas are very important, but the challenge is that people who took care of the farms and mountains in those areas are aging and young people are not willing to do those tasks.

To overcome this obstacle we need to publicize the charms of agriculture and forestry of these regions to the world and promote the development of human resources responsible for the need. All of them will also support regional revitalization.

Now that you know this valuable information, you may want to do something about it, right?

The good news is that Miyazaki Green Tourism Association and Ai-road Company are planning a trip to Usa city, Oita prefecture. It is also one of those valuable regions, which is worthy of a visit to learn about their local life and cultures besides having fun.  For further information you can contact our company, Ai-road Inc.

Email: michikusa26@ybb.ne.jp

Tel: 0985-23-3443

Fax:0985-44-2404


By: Ateffa Jalali 



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2016年02月29日

Tempura

Japanese Tempura and Afghani Pakora

You might be wondering why I write so much about Japanese Cuisine.

Well cuisine is one the most important parts of Japan’s culture and the part that matters the most to you when you come here.

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Tempura are pieces of highly battered, deep fried seafood and vegetables.

It is a famous dish inside and outside Japan and commonly served as a main dish, side dish or as a topping for rice bowls, Udon, and Soba noodle dishes.

There are different varieties of tempura pieces:

Ebi (Shrimp/ prawn) Tempura

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Sakana (Fish) Tempura

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Nasu (eggplant) Tempura


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Kinoko (mushrooms) Tempura

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Kobacha (Pumpkin) Tempura

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Satsumaimo( sweet potato) Tempura


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Shiso (Perilla) Tempura

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Kakiage Tempura

(A tempura made of a variety of julienned vegetables)


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Tempura is one of my favorite Japanese dishes too. I have tried fish, sweet potato and vegetables tempura as a side dish with soba noodles and rice. We have a similar dish in our country too we call it “pakora”, we make it from potato or a mixture of potato and vegetables, both of which are my favorites.

Potato pakora

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Mixed Potato and vegetables Pakora

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By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 14:57 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年02月26日

My Favorite Quotes

Have you ever felt better or stronger reading quotes?

Have they ever solved a problem of yours or helped in taking a decision in life through reading quotes?

My answer would be yes to all, that’s why I love reading quotes and sharing them.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

1:

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2:

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3:

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4:

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5:

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6:

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7:

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8:

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9:

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By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 09:49 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年02月22日

Nishimera Monitourig Tour

A borderless and memorable trip

Kyusyu Central Mountains Tourism Promotion Council and Ai Road CO., Ltd organized a trip to Nishimera on 13th -14th February.

This trip included participants from travel companies, international students, and local villagers.

Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”

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This exciting trip started with an amusing ride in a royal Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”.

We were amused by visiting interesting places and doing fun things in every stop of the train.

At first stop we rode the mini train then watched the Daimyo show, which was very fascinating. At second one every one rang the lucky bill. Later we stopped for drinking tea, as the weather was rainy it was a perfect time for a hot tea.


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Daimo show
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Restaurant Tokumaru for lunch

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At the last stop, we had delicious lunch at Tokumaru Restaurant. Considering travelers’ need halal food was provided for the Muslim foreign travelers. They were all very grateful for the effort.

Walking around Yunomae Town and Cartoon Museum in Yunomae

After the lunch, we had a brief walk around the beautiful town of Yunomae. We saw many stunning handmade dolls of “Hinamatsuri” or doll festival. We also visited Ryosuke Nasu, political cartoonist’s cartoon exhibition and one of his cartoon movie in which he portrayed politicians in a satirical way after their era was finished.

Ground Cherry Art craft experience in Nishimera

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Using the local materials we learned making “Sekobozu” or ground cherry lantern. It wasn’t just an experience, but also a reminder that won’t let us forget the wonderful experiences we tried and memories we made in the trip.

Hot Spring in Nishimera Onsen YUTARTO

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A relaxing hot bath is what our tired body wants from us after a long day in the trip! Some travelers enjoyed the destressing and comforting onsen at Yutarto and others enjoyed the wonderful and highly attractive decorations of Doll Festival.

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Dinner party with local folks in OGAWA Sakugoya Mura

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Later we had a dinner party in Ogawa Sakuoya Mura. The presence of Nishimera folks made the dinner party very special. For most of us it was the first time to do dinner and get to know the kind welcoming villagers of the place we visit. The hospitality and love they showed will always be a strong reason to visit Nishimera again.

After the dinner, we had a friendly and pleasant party in which we found about hidden talents of the participants beyond the border.

Tour Plan Day 2

Breakfast in OGAWA Sakugoya Mura

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A gratifying warm welcome to the cold morning breakfast. In the breakfast gathering everyone was more easily socializing with each other taking about the fun memories they made together and waited impatiently for the next enjoyable experiences. Now, it was time to leave the castle that looked like the ones we heard in fairy tale stories. The beauty of its impressive sceneries can hardly be expressed by words!  Seriously, We didn’t want to leave the place!

Bread baking experience at YURARI in Yunomae

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Bread baking was the second motivational and creative experience of the trip. Everyone was putting a great amount of efforts to design the colorful breads better than the other groups, an unintentional competition had arisen. Later, we ate our handmade breads with hot coffee and green tea while interacting and enjoying each other’s company.

Lunch at Stone Built Community House ISHIGURA in Taragi

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Before starting the lunch, we got a chance of visiting “Hina Matsuri” dolls decorated with flowing kimono of many layers and  elegant colors on red carpet, and usually arranged in hierarchy starting from the Emperor, Empress and going down through the ranks.

Afterwards, the guide Mr. Go explained the history and culture of the Stone Built community house, Ishigura which was built as a storage warehouse of wheat and rice “showa”. The place is now used as a local exchange facility. It’s worth mentioning that the lunch boxes served there was also delicious.

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Sightseeing tour of the Blue 

Train in Taragi

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Here comes another train! Yet this one was quiet different than the Sightseeing train “Den-en Symphony”. The Blue Train was used from (Tokyo Kumamoto) until March 2009. We were amazed by the clever usage of accommodation space in this train.

Over all, it was a borderless international trip that give an opportunity to know and respect each other’s cultures. International students were able to visit places they didn’t know much about and couldn’t go there without a travel agent.

All the travelers were happy and delighted learning new skills and experiencing things together. For most of us, night stay at Ogawa Sakugoya Village and sightseeing train was the most memorable parts of the trip and we all wanted to come back and try them with our friends again. It is worth mentioning, that local people were very glad to see outsiders appreciate their village so much.


By: Ateffa Jalali


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2016年02月11日

Eco tourism

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Definition

Ecotourism is a late 20th century newly invented word compounded of eco- and tourism. It focuses on socially responsible travels, personal growth, and environmental sustainability.In other words, ecotourism is the concept of promoting Eco tour or environmentally-friendly tour to minimize negative impact on the natural environment and local culture by balancing conservation and tourism. The primary attractions of ecotourism trips destinations are flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

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Purposes of Ecotourism in Japan

1: Experiencing local lifestyles, learning about culture and history of a place, and supporting locally based industries.

2: Revitalization of communities is one of the main purposes of ecotourism. In fact, young people are the biggest support of the local workforce. When young people move to the city, there is no one to take care of that community anymore, which results in a community to be either under-populated or endangered with growing aging population and decline of birth rate. The interest and appreciation of visitors from outside can make the youth of that community to realize the value of what they have and that attachment to their communities can be a reason for them to stay and be proud about it.

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3: Promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity by providing jobs to local populations.

4. Offering tourists’ insight into the impact of human beings on the environment, and to foster a greater appreciations of our natural habitats.


5. Supporting human rights and democratic movements like: conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity through ecosystem protection.

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6. Reduction of waste in the form of luxury.

7. Environmental, education and cultural exchange between urban habitants and rural communities.

Importance of Ecotourism in Japan

Ecotourism encourages development of local businesses such as Green/ agriculture tourism, Local farm produce delivery, and cultural exchange between communities. Besides, it is the solution to critical problems mentioned below:

1. Under-populated communities are facing challenges like abandoned farms, deforestation, food crises, illegal dumping, plant diseases that occur more easily on abandoned fields.


2. Seventy percent of the land in Japan are mountains, there should be someone to take care of them. Mountains are deteriorating which is leading to the Decline Mountains’ natural ability to store water and absorb carbon-dioxide. This results in disasters such as landslide, flood, and water shortage; affecting both rural and urban areas.

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By: Ateffa Jalali


Reference:

The international ecotourism society (n.d), Uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel: what is ecotourism? Retrieved from:

https://www.ecotourism.org/what-is-ecotourism

Nippon Green Tourism (n.d), Ecotourism Japan, what does it mean to revitalize communities, retrieved from: http://www.ecotourism-center.jp/staticpages/index.php/ecocen01_en


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2016年02月08日

Nishimera Village

A Verdant and enchanting village

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Do you sometimes wish you could be in a destressing place blessed with seasonal beauties, picturesque bridges over clear rivers, and a great mountainous scenery where you will fail to see a single place which is not covered with growing plants?!

If yes, then you probably want to go to Nishimera Village.  

Nishimera is a village located in Koyu District, Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan. As of 2005, it has estimated population of 1,298, which is less than the number of amazingly beautiful deer that live in there. If these qualities doesn’t drag you towards it, then what will?

In this verdant village traditions are kept alive by practically practicing them. I have visited it many times and learned a lot about ancient Japanese traditions and cuisine like making traditional “mochi” (rice cake) and soba noodles.

http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/428639527.html

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http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/433315110.html

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Indeed, Nishimera village has given a lot to inspire its villagers.

It has given the drift woods of its rivers, acorn, chestnut,and  leaves to inspire Ms. Momoko Kuroki for making extra delicate and beautiful origamis and handicrafts.

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Not only that, but it also has given an exceptional nature beauty to be portrayed in Mr. Sadakichi Kuroki’s paintings; as well as abundant and easily available physalis alkekengi (also known as strawberry or ground cherries) to inspire Mr. Keisuke Kuroki for making magical lanterns and lots more.

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http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/431351688.html

To sum up, Nishimera village is a nature friendly place surrounded by friendly and social local people offering hospitality and willing to display their talents with full enthusiasm.

By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 09:25 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年02月03日

Spring Setsubun 3rd Feburuary

Take a compass before eating the Fortune roll (Ehomaki)

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Today is 3rd of February and by the time I entered the office I was amazed by looking at my colleague eating a sushi roll with a big mouth! That was when I got to know today is Setsubun festival!!! She brought tasty sushi rolls for all of us!

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 According to legends, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi was fighting for the ruler ship of Japan, one of his samurai, Horio Yoshiharu, ate a rolled sushi on the evening before the battle and they won the battle. Thus, it is believed eating sushi roll brings good luck and drives away demons of Setsubun.

In Ehomaki, which literally means, ‘direction of blessing roll’ seven fillings are traditionally rolled in. The ingredients represent good health, happiness, and prosperity and rolling the fillings means good fortune.

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It is usually eaten with eyes closed, in total silence, making a wish, facing the auspicious direction of the New Year, as it changes every year.

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There is also another tradition of putting beans in your plate, then counting the number of your age and eat one bean for each year. Later, you take the remaining beans to the front door and say “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which means “Demon out, good fortune in!” Then throw them out in the streets.

By: Ateffa Jalali 

続きを読む
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2016年02月02日

My experience of Making Soba Noodles

Handmade super delicious soba

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Noodles are the most popular and easily available dishes of Japan. There are many types of them; you can find more information through the link below

http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/429431109.html

Soba noodles are noodles made of buckwheat flour, roughly as thick as spaghetti.

There are many types of soba like Mori/Zaru soba, Kake soba, Kitsune soba, Tanuki soba, Tempura soba, Tsukimi soba, Tororo soba, Sansai soba, Nanban soba, etc.

Soba noodles are available in dried form in supermarkets, but freshly made by hand from flour and water taste is just incomparable.

I experienced making soba noodles in a travel tour of Ai-road Company in Nishimera Village. We were making the most basic soba dish, Mori Soba in which boiled cold soba noodles are eaten with a soya based dipping sauce (tsuyu).

Our cook and instructor Mr. Keisuke Kuroki, started by teaching how to make the dough from buckwheat, wheat flour, water, and salt.

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After stirring the dough with a wooden stick for around 15 minutes, he kneaded them to form the dough. Next, he shaped it into a rectangular shape and started rolling it.

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This one is rolled by me so not the perfect shape but still works. ;) Next, he sprinkled flour onto the counter to prevent sticking and folded the top third part of the dough downward and bottom third part upward.

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After folding, he cut the noodles half a centimeter (a quarter of an inch) thick.

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Afterward, we boiled water in a large pot and add salt before dropping the soba and cooked it for two minutes.

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Subsequently, he drained them and rinsed them under cool water immediately.

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That’s it! Soba noodle was cooked in an easy way and a kind villager of Nishimera had cooked tempura, pieces of highly battered deep fried mixed vegetable, to be used as the topping of soba. Delicious soba is ready!

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I had already tried tempura and loved it, but it was my first time to make and eat soba noodles. It was quite interesting.

This is how my Japanese lunch looked like.

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I will probably try this special soba noodles at home too with the difference of adding some spices, as I and my husband can’t live without it. :p

By: Ateffa Jalali

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2016年01月28日

My favorite quotes

Reading quotes always make me inspired and thoughtful. In fact, I love using them both in speech and writing, because they enhance credibility of both and solves a big problem or argument with a single or few sentences.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

1.

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2.

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3.

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4.

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5.

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6.

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7.

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8. 

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Share your favorite quotes from the ones mentioned above. 


By: Ateffa Jalali

posted by :時の旅:みちくさスタッフ at 10:15 | Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | スタッフDiary | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2016年01月26日

Muslims in Miyazaki

A visit by Miyazaki TV

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“Different plants thrive together in a well nurtured garden. Just as they thrive, they pass on a message to mankind - God created us all to thrive with one another and planted love in our hearts for this reason. Let's learn to embrace each other, knowing Love is all we have to keep us growing and going.” (Kemi Sogunle)

Number of Muslim residents in Miyazaki Prefecture of Japan is increasing. Currently there are more than 300 Muslims from different countries like Afghanistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Senegal, Mauritania, etc. Most of them have come through scholarships for getting their Masters and Doctors degree.Some of them have also brought their wives’ and children with them.

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Miyazaki TV visited Muslim community to know their problems in order to help Miyazaki become a better place for Muslims.Journalists of Miyazaki TV were amazed to see Muslims from different countries being very friendly and sociable with each other like a family.

Most of the Muslim students are living in International house, University of Miyazaki and are very busy to cook their lunch at home and couldn’t find halal lunch boxes. Fortunately, the problem is solved by Ms. Thanaa Maeda who is making halal lunch boxes for students of Miyazaki. I am really thankful and happy because of the efforts of Mrs. Maeda.

(A picture of the exceptionally tasty halal food lunch box she makes)

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Moving to other problems, I shared two most common ones Muslims living in Miyazaki have. One of the most common one is finding halal food. Muslims’ diet is governed by Allah’s law. Based on which Muslims can’t eat pork, alcohol, and meat of animals that are not sacrificed by mentioning Allah’s name over them.

That is the reason why some of the daily foods available in Super Markets and other convenient stores are allowed to be consumed by Muslims, because some of them contain alcohol, animal derived ingredients, pork extracts or shortenings, pig oil, gelatin, etc.

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I suggested the solution that Super Markets allocate a specific area for halal food. For example among milk packages, bread, yogurt, cakes etc. the ones that don’t have alcohol, pork or other animal derived materials can be put in halal food area. This will really help Muslim’s living in Miyazaki most of whom don’t know enough Japanese to read the ingredients by themselves and end up not buying that product when not sure of them being halal. 

In Happiness store there is a small area for halal meat, soy sauce etc. that really makes us happy and that’s the place we mostly shop.


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Second problem is lack of prayer rooms in public places. Muslims pray five times a day. Morning prayer( Fajr), noon prayer( Dhuhr), afternoon prayer (Asr), evening prayer( Maghrib), and night prayer( Isha).

As three times of prayer are during the day while we are outside our homes and they have a deadline and should be performed in the specific time. We face this problem every day or at least every weekend, which we usually spent shopping in Aoen Mall, Miyaco city and other shopping malls.

Therefore, if possibly there were small rooms available in big shopping malls for prayer, we won’t have to pray outside, in the bus or car.

Though, I really am thankful of the company I work in, Ai-road Inc. that allows me to pray in the meeting room every day! This really shows their respect toward my religion and I heartily appreciate it.

Saying of the problems above doesn’t mean we are having difficulties living in Japan, rather we all are so happy to be living in a country that doesn’t have any prejudice toward our religion and respects it.

All of the Muslims living in Miyazaki including myself, want to be examples of living peacefully together to prove that the picture that media shows of Muslims is not true, we are not terrorists! Our religion doesn’t teach us to be terrorist! It teaches us to be honest, truthful, and kind to everyone.



By: Ateffa Jalali

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