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.


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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.



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

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Spring Setsubun 3rd Feburuary

Take a compass before eating the Fortune roll (Ehomaki)


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!


 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.


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 

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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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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:




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Share your favorite quotes from the ones mentioned above. 

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Muslims in Miyazaki

A visit by Miyazaki TV


“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.


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)


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.


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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The most well-known dish of Japan

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Sushi, being one of the most popular dish of Japanese cuisine inside and outside the country, was started as a way for preserving fish in fermented rice. This beautifully decorated sushi contains rice prepared with sushi vinegar. Most popular fish for inside sushi are salmon, red tuna, and medium fatty tuna. However, there are many other types of sushi that differ based on their ingredients and thickness, most of which are named below.

About Japanese foods, what I like the most is that they decorate it very creatively and delicately. All the sushi pictures below will strongly support what I said. Sounds funny, but I sometimes think why spoil such a lovely design by eating them.   



Wowww it is more than cute! These cute inarizushi are rice filled in aburaaage ( deep fried tofu) bags. I really must try these.

2. Gunkan

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Small cups made of sushi rice and dried seaweed filled with seafood, sea urchin and different types of fish eggs.

3. Nigiri

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Small rice balls with tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg. They all look yummy, but since I am not good with raw meat or fish I will go for fried egg on the top.

4. Temaki 


Sushi cones are made of nori seaweed and filled with sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.

5. Oshizushi


It is pressed sushi, in which the fish is pressed onto the sushi rice in a wooden box.

6. Norimaki


Another variety of sushi containing sushi rice and seafood, etc. rolled in dries seaweed sheets.

7. Chirashi


Another creativity shown in a bowl of chirashizushi which consists of seafood, mushroom and vegetables spread over sushi rice.

Luckily, sushi is found easily in Japan even in your nearest convenient store and it is really worthy of trying once at least.

By: Ateffa Jalali

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8 Tips to improve memory

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Do you see someone you met just few days ago and can’t recall their name?

Have you started using your notes for the smallest information like grocery lists?

Do you wish you had a better memory?

According to Dr. Mercola, unlike the common conception your brain’s hippocampus, i.e. the memory center, is known to regenerate throughout your entire lifetime, if you follow the appropriate life style mentioned below.

1. Eat right

Eating fresh vegetables and healthy fats like coconut oil are crucial for better memory. Avoid sugar and grain carbohydrates.

2. Exercise

Based on studies of 2010 regular exercise improves blood flow to the brain and enhances learning abilities

 3. Play brain games

Like the body brain also needs exercise and if you don’t challenge your brain it will eventually become worse.

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4. Get a good night’s sleep

Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep a day. Having enough sleep enhances your memory.  Indeed, a mid-day nap was found to dramatically improve and restore brainpower.  

5. Stop multi tasking

It slows you down and makes you forgetful. If you do many tasks together, you may forget one of them

6. Master a new skill

Engage in purposeful and meaningful activities

Engage in tasks that are interesting, meaningful and important to you. Like gardening, crafting or anything that holds your attention.


7. Try Mnemonic Devices

They are memory tools that help you remember words, information or concept through acronym, rhyme, image or a phrase.

Example 1:

The order of the Great Lakes from west to east:

Super Man Helps Every One.

(Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario)

Example 2:FANBOYS for the seven coordinating conjunctions

(For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So)

8. Intermittent Fasting

Unlike the common belief, glucose is not the ideal fuel to your brain. It is ketones, which is the fat body mobilizes when you stop feeding it carbs.

Fasting one day or restricting your eating to a 6-8 hours, will cause your body to “reset” itself and start burning fat instead of sugar.

By: Ateffa Jalali


Mercola.J,(2014, April). 7 Tricks to improve your memory. Retrieved from:


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10 easy tips to overcome stress


We live in a world where day to day life is full of stress and anxiety, while the reason may differ for everyone. It can be job stress, difficult relationships, economy problems, family problems, safety problem, and fear of terrorism, etc.

Fortunately, there are ways to fight those stress. I am going to share the ones that has worked for me.

1. Prioritize


This tip works best when its school or work stress. Being overloaded by tasks to do and not having plenty of time for them can be very stressing, whereas prioritizing what is more important and starting with that can actually work.

2. Go to beach, walk bare feet, watch sunrise

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I combined these three tips as I do go to beach, walk bare feet, and even tried to watch sunrise. Once I woke up at 4:00 a.m. with my husband and went to beach to watch sunrise. Guess what, it was rainy, we didn’t check the weather!! I am surely going to try it some other time.

3. Eat well-balanced meals:

It has been a month I have changed my eating lifestyle. I don’t skip any meal, but at night I only eat fruits or vegetables and do exercise. By the way, weekend nights are still pizza night can’t skip that. ;)

4. Exercise daily and recruit an exercise buddy


I exercise almost 5 days a week for 30 to 45 minutes. It is more fun than exercise as I have my husband as my exercise buddy. We encourage and motivate eachother to stick to exercise routine.

5. Say a prayer

Being a Muslim, I pray five times a day. It definitely helps me in dealing with stress.

6. Limit alcohol and caffeine:


Oh alcohol I never drank and never will, but I usually drank coffee staying up late for my exams or just, because I liked it. However I rarely drink it nowadays.

7. Take a nap


This is my second favorite thing. I love sleeping as I don’t usually get enough sleep in weekdays. Taking a nap actually helps, because I am not stressed when I am asleep.

8. Keep a Journal

I have been writing diary since I was 14 years old. I usually write when I am too happy or too sad and some special events. However, my writing is more thoughtful and touching when I write out of stress.

9. Eat a snack


Some people can’t eat when stressed. I am the opposite one because eating has always made me happy specially an ice cream.

10. Talk to some one

Well, this is my favorite tip as I talk more than a lot and it actually makes me feel a lot better.

By: Ateffa Jalali


Anxiety and Depression Association of America.(n.d). Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress. Retrieved from: http://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

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International restaurants in Tokyo

Tokyo seems like a city with a big heart, which has embraced people from all over the world. It has Asian, European, African, and American restaurants. As a result in our trip to Tokyo, we could try different countries’ cuisines.


We went to Indian, Italian, and Turkish restaurants.

Indian Curry dinning Cobara-Hetta

Indian restaurant:


The day we were visiting Odaiba Seaside Park http://michikusan.seesaa.net/article/432290218.html , we tried Indian cuisine. It has always been one of my favorite cuisines, because it’s spicy and rich.

I never miss drinking Mango Lassi in Indian restaurants, as I am in love with it.

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We all ordered different foods, in order to taste most of the foods it offered.

My husband and his friend ordered curry over rice and I and his wife tried women set. Seems like they have discovered what women want, at least in case of food.  All the foods were awesome, peppery, and simply delicious.

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 Italian Restaurant

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This restaurant was near JICA (Tokyo International Center), where we were staying during the trip, so it was a very convenient place for us. We went there twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. The hot, soft, and chewy cheese pizza and fries were my favorite in this restaurant. It was very yummy!!

Turkish restaurants

We tried three Turkish restaurants.

1. Qader Kebab

  Turkish Restaurant

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It was the first Turkish restaurant that we tried in Tokyo. Obviously, we all liked the food, however it became more competitive as we tried other Turkish restaurants. Here we ordered Shorma Kebab, and Shorma over rice.

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2. Deniz Kebab

Turkish Restaurant

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The restaurant was small, but it was beautifully decorated with Turkish Cultural designs. What surprised us was, the Japanese waitress dressed in Turkish clothes which gave us a strong guess she was married to a Turkish man, or maybe she just wore it, because she was working there. I wish I had asked. Anyways she was looking very cute and her appearance was an attraction to the place.

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3. Istanbul Restaurant

Our last dinner in Tokyo!

All Turkish restaurants mentioned above, served delicious food, but when I talk about Turkish cuisine Kebab flavors of Istanbul restaurant fills my mouth. It was a small place with very hospitable service as the waitress was a kind Turkish woman. I think the conversations we had in there made the restaurant unforgettable place, but of course it won’t decrease the specialty of the food it served.




By now you probably must have got hungry!! I can totally understand as I got hungry too talking about such delicacies!!

By: Ateffa Jalali

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Odaiba Seaside Park

Tokyo’s most popular tourist attraction and date spot

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Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo, popular among locals and tourists with a wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options.

I visited Odaiba twice with my husband. Once in detail in day time and once on New Year’s Eve to enjoy the shinning and romantic night scenery of the Tokyo tower and Rainbow Bridge, that connects Odaiba to the rest of Tokyo and is highly attractive with night illuminations.

If I hadn’t been there at night I wouldn’t know why it is a famous date spot. Now that I have been there I can say it is due to the long quite walk at sandy beach will easily bring out the special words of a heart. And feeling sea breezes in the poetic and magical environment would make it hard for the person to reject. ;)

It was such a relaxing and peaceful place that I wanted to make a tent, light a fire and sit there until dawn, but we had to rush and reach to Tokyo Tower for the count down.


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It would have been injustice to the beauty of this man –made Seaside Park, if we hadn’t visited it in detail for a longer time.

Next day, we came back and spent the whole day in the center of Odaiba called Aqua city Odaiba. It includes a shopping mall with a 300-meter-long boutique street, a multi-flex cinema, and a gourmet zone that stretches over 15,000 square meters, which is the largest of its kind in Japan.

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yet, I haven’t jumped into talking about Statue of Liberty in New York. Actually, it is a replica of the statue that was made in Odaiba to celebrate Japan’s ties with France. And it is a recommended photo spot for having Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge in background.

There are so many things to do in Odaiba like staring at the stunning lake, skyline, bridge and garden. That’s what makes visiting it a great life time memory.

By: Ateffa Jalali 

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