Staring Eyes on Hijab in Tokyo

What I faced during my first Hijab experience in Japan

When I go back home from Tiara Koto Hall after Dr. Zakir Naik lecture where I made Shahada, I was able to wear Hijab until I got home. Alhamdulillah. It was my first experience to go out with hijab in Tokyo. I got starting eyes on hijab inside the train on the way home.

There were fewer people due to late night and weekend so I took my seat and waiting the train will depart. After train departed, I was thinking about the day and wondering how I would tell about my big day to my fiancé, he knew that I was going to Dr. Zakir Naik lecture but he never know that I reverted to Muslim. (I did not know the day was for me neither!)

Then I realized there was a young man sitting down the left side in front probably same age around me gave his glance at me. Once I saw him, he looks down on his smartphone with his hand. I did not mind what just happened rather than that I kept thinking about from where do I start to tell about my shahada, and I send him text says “Can I talk to you once I got back to home?” When I looked up, I saw the guy was looking at my hijab and he looked down again. I sensed that he is curious about my hijab.

I stopped my hand texting for a while, thinking what just happened. I would be terrified if I experience the same before revert, I would think it negatively how people around judge me by my appearance. But I got to think the reason why he was looking at hijab positively, “maybe because he was surprised to see Japanese Muslim in Tokyo?” or “maybe it was the first time for him to see woman wearing hijab?” then I pray what he saw in train will encourage him to understand Islam without misjudgments in future.

I was sure the similar experience will come while I go out with hijab in Tokyo and I know I will be just a tiny example out of billions of Muslim brothers and sisters but I do wish what people see from me will be opportunity for Japanese people to know and learn about Islam to see what is Islam and its practices. Honestly I myself was surprised to notice how I think differently than I would and I feel Allah always provides the way ease things on life.

Later I reached home, I was able to see my fiancé happy face when I told him what happened on the day.

Muslim life in Japan is not easy?

It has been a month since I reverted. So far good things were coming, host family visit from Malaysia, best friend’s wedding ceremony, and meeting up again with precious friends in Tokyo. As I was wondering how do I tell to my Japanese friends about my revert, it turned out when my friends know that I reverted to Islam through Facebook or seeing me with hijab, they respect my decision and wishes me all the best like they did to me with other life choices on our friendship. Together with it, my friends ask me about how is my Muslim life in Japan.

When I was able to meet my Malaysian friend in Tokyo, she is like my sister (kak in Malay), and it has been almost two years since we had met last time. She is also the one congrats my revert and asks me about life as Muslim in japan.

Kak: Risa, How is life as Muslim in Japan?

Me: Hummm. It is not easy. I would say.

What I meant during the time was the appearance as Muslimah with Hijab is outstandingly different in the homogeneous society in Japan catches people’s eyes on it which I feel difficult somehow.

After the talk with her, however, I kept thinking “is it really not an easy life as Muslim in Japan?”  so I try to remember what was not easy for me.

1, Hijab: Mostly I do concern people’s eyes on me especially when I take a train. I am afraid people will disturb me from my appearance but so far I don’t have a negative experience. Also, I realized that I feel good about the fact I was able to keep my faith after I completed my day with Hijab. I simply feel great that I do things that Allah likes. Surprisingly, unlike my expectation, when I meet my Japanese friends they say “Kawaii!” on my hijab. Even they are curious on hijab ask me how do I wear it and so on.

2, Prayer: Now it is hard for me to recite Al Faatiha in Arabic during prayers also follows five prayers in a day as I am not used to it yet. But this frustration leads me to study Arabic alphabet every day for improving reading even just short time like fifteen minutes in a day and try to figure out my lifestyle and changing behavior to fit myself for prayer times.

3, Eating: It is true that I have limited choices when I am outside as I need to concern what I eat in this non Islamic city, Tokyo. But we do have choices as the number of halal certified restaurant is increasing in Tokyo. Also ever since I officially become to be a Muslim my mother suggest to my dad to eat Halal together with me, previously I was only one eating Halal at home, and they start buying Halal meat not only for me but for my family to enjoy the same meal together.

Try to think logically what exactly was not easy for me always brought me solutions or positive learning process to be patient and how I can keep my faith. Yes, I do have the not-easy experience as revert Muslims in non Islamic country but I do gain something meaningful as I think hard what I can do to one step closer to Allah.

This made me realized that I  had labeled the life as Muslim in Japan is not easy unconsciously and it turns out it was too early to judge like that.

Life as Muslim in Japan is amazing for me.

Power of Pink Hijab in Tokyo

What the bright color Hijab made me think

Since I revert, I got a lot of gifts from brothers and sisters. Alhamdulilah. Those were Islamic books, CDs, clothes, Hijabs and pins and there was one time I got lots of Hijabs when my Malaysian host family, 4 years of relationship with them, came to Japan to see me to celebrate my revert.

When I saw them, host mother opened the box and showed me a full of colorful Hijabs inside, telling me “I got this from my best friend and this one from my another best friend…” I was so happy to see each hijabs has own stories to tell all the way from Malaysia to Japan. When she showed me various Hijabs, the brilliant pink color hijab with crystal stones caught my eyes. When I took it in hand she told me “this is my best friend as well, I asked her to make the special one for you” it turned out the stones are sawed by hand. Of course, other hijabs are beautiful too but during the time I really wanted to put the pink one on me so I ask her help to wear it nicely then we went out for sightseeing in Shinjyuku, Tokyo.

While I was walking with them, thinking, “I chose pink to wear by myself. What a surprise…” As I usually prefer to wear a dark color like black, dark blue and gray for an outfit, I guess this is my typical Japanese fashion taste, and I never wear bright color especially pink with cloth or accessories as I felt it might look too feminine unlike my character and does not fit on my appearance. When I glanced at the shop windows to see myself, it was really pink! Apparently, that was the outstanding pink color in Tokyo surrounded by autumn leaves.

Interestingly compare with the occasion when I go out with wearing dark color hijab, I did not feel staring eyes on me with the pinky blight hijab. People might consider me as foreigner directly so they do not try hard to figure out who I am from my appearance. It does not mean I want to hide the fact that I am Japanese Muslim revert at all but it was easier for me when I feel fewer eyes. Another surprising feeling with the pink hijab was that I simply felt good as for wearing beautiful color on me like I put my favorite colors on my lips. It makes me feel I am proud of myself as I wear hijab to express who I am too.

Then I realized I tend to choose dark colors to avoid eye-catching in Tokyo. Even it seems logical enough to avoid people’s eyes on me but I found myself consider wearing hijab as with negative attitude somehow, try not too outstanding among people for catching their eyes. The pink hijab, however, brings me to think wearing hijab is a truly good thing, is the way I carry out my belief. It encourages me to be proud of myself as well. Now I am getting a little confidence to try to wear hijab more often in Tokyo to keep my faith and proudly express myself as Muslimah. Inshallah