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Living in Japan is something that a lot of people dreamt of, with its beauty and convenience. Living in a place with a different culture from the home country is challenging yet sometimes causes cultural shock we might face, especially for a Muslim.
These are some points you need to know about living in Japan.
1. Prayer times differ each season
Japan has four seasons where day and night time dynamically change every season. You will find yourself doing Subuh prayer at 2 am (early morning) in the summer or Maghrib prayer at around 16:30 in the winter, and no azan to remind you to do the prayer. Most Muslim residents in Japan use the Muslim Pro application to check prayer time at their location. There is also an azan function that will flow when the prayer time comes but keeps in mind to turn it off when you are in a public area.
2. Halal food is not available everywhere
Halal restaurants, halal foods (groceries, etc), and prayer spaces are not available everywhere. They are increasing year by year but still focused mostly on touristy areas. If you are looking for halal foods to cook at home, you can use seasonings, vegetables, fruits, or other ingredients you find halal at the common Japanese local supermarkets but it will be extremely hard to find halal meat. You might find halal meat products easily at a supermarket called “Gyomu Super” since it is spreading within Japan, in Asian halal food shops (focused only in some areas), or in halal online shops.
3. Cook food for yourself. Good for your diet as well as your wallet
Find the supermarket/shop/online shop that is easy for you to do groceries and you can cook food for yourself. Cooking may not be everyone’s hobby, but it will be very helpful to keep your appetite with the taste you like and very friendly to your monthly expense. Of course, you can spend your weekend going outside and eating at halal restaurants, but doing it every day might not be that good, especially for your wallet. You can get a cooking book from a local bookstore and arrange the recipe to make halal food!
4. Looking for friends and community
This is one of the most important things when living abroad, make friends! First, you can find people from your country as the first step, then move to a sport or hobby club (for example) to make friends with more people. You also can go to the mosque and make friends with other Muslim residents.
5. Dealing with completely different perspectives
There is a Japanese proverb that says, 十人十色 (juu nin to iro) which means “so many men, so many minds”. People have different thoughts, opinions, and tastes. Ourselves either. In addition, adjusting yourself to the local habits and customs like the proverb “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is one of the most challenging to do when living abroad.
You might find the habits or customs do not fit with your values, just respect locals for such habits or customs and keep your values with you. In that atmosphere, you can learn and experience diversity. Respecting and understanding other perspectives is important and what we need to do is find a win-win way for both.