In Japan, we follow the normal calendar. As school holiday starts around the 4th week of December till 2nd week of January, the end of the year towards new year bring us special holiday occasion to reflect the previous year and wish for a great new year coming with friends and families.
This year was my second new year after I came back from Malaysia, I feel conformable with Japanese new year atmosphere which I used to it since childhood. ( I was surprised for Malaysian people the new year according to normal calendar is not special thing as each race has their own calendar and day for new year celebration) I was having a relaxing time with family, TV showed people were cueing for new year prayer towards shrine or temple when we were about to welcome the new year and it made me wonder about the prayer.
“Japanese people pay a visit to shrine or temple for a special prayer. Yeah, I used to do sometimes. Then I know some go for pray only this occasion but I can pray five times a day. Oh they seems so cold outside and yeah even I go to the mosque but basically, I can pray anywhere I am! Plus I do not have to pay when I pray. Every time I went to shrine or temple I was always worried about how much I should pay for the offertory box.”
I was totally feeling lucky this year. Because for me as grow up non-religious family, when I had tried the new year prayer previously I didn’t feel the existence of god it rather cultural event for me. But now as Muslim, I feel secured that I reverted to Islam belief in one only God without any doubt. After that, I did pray before I sleep and wishes as I do in the daily prayer, I felt the beauty of Islam again.
After welcomed the new year, my friend visited and brought Japanese traditional new year dishes called “Osechi” which is with different kind of delicacies in the beautiful boxes wishes prosperity and health for a family. The surprising thing for me was her hospitality to care about my food restriction. She said, “I was not sure about your religious food restrictions so that I wrote the list of ingredients for every menu for you.”
Alhamdulillah! I was so touched she gave me a small piece of paper listed up all the name of the delicacies and what she used to cook for those. It was very easy for me to pick up what I can eat, because of her kindness I was able to enjoy the traditional Japanese food.
It can not make me happier when I feel Japanese and Muslim identity at the same time. It was totally Alhamdulillah! And I noticed that there are always ways to develop my identity as Japanese and Muslim and I will find the beauty on my way. This new year experience brought me a believe that Allah will provide chances for me to be better Japanese Muslimah, Inshallah.