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.

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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.


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.

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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!




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.

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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.


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

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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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GIAHS in Japan

(Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems)


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.


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


By: Ateffa Jalali 

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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.


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

Ebi tempura.jpg

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

 vegetable pakora.jpg

By: Ateffa Jalali

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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.








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By: Ateffa Jalali

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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”


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.

Daimo show

Restaurant Tokumaru for lunch


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


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


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.



Dinner party with local folks in OGAWA Sakugoya Mura


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


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


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.



Sightseeing tour of the Blue 

Train in Taragi


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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Eco tourism

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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.

 japan aging graph.JPG

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


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


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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