This post is also available in: Indonesia
Born and raised as a Muslim in Japan is something that most people can’t experience. They experience a different atmosphere, a different perspective from those who were born and raised in Muslim-majority countries.
Today we talk with Ghufron Yazid, a Japan-born and raised Indonesian Muslim who shares with us his experience born and raised in Japan.
Meet Ghufron Yazid! The Leaders of Japan’s Muslim 2nd Generation
Ghufron is an Indonesian Muslim that is born and raised in Tokyo. He went to Japanese schools and universities and now involved in a wide variety of craftsmanship, from working as a designer and creative, to a speaker in Islamic-related occasions and a florist, while leading the community of Muslim 2nd generation in Japan on Tokyo Camii Young Muslim Club and Young Muslim Organization Olive Japan.
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Ghufron who speaks Japanese, English, and Bahasa Indonesia, was not be able to speak Bahasa Indonesia, which is his roots, at first. He flew to Indonesia during the summer holiday when he was a high school student and let himself immersed in the atmosphere of Indonesia. When he came back to Japan, he encouraged himself to actively speak in Bahasa Indonesia with his parents, which then brings him to fluently talk in Bahasa Indonesia now.
Attending Japanese Schools
Religion is comparatively not a common topic in Japan. During school, Ghufron says that he had a low consciousness about the Islamic teaching despite as something that what his parents said. Even so, he was careful in choosing foods, including school lunch. He mentions that the nutritionist prepared him a separate school lunch and when it comes to some occasions that the nutritionist or school can’t follow up, his mother prepared him a bento.
*There are nutritionists in school who are in charge of preparing school lunches for students.
Then in his first year of high school, the awareness of himself as a Muslim began to grow inside him.
Following the food restriction he already did, he proactively communicates to the school about his needs as a Muslim, such as asking the school to allow him use a room to pray in the school and more. Alhamdulillah, Ghufron had nothing to worry about during school life. The school understood his needs and did its best to meet the needs. They even prepared separate meals for him during a school trip.
*When Japanese elementary and middle school students reach their final school year, they will go for a school trip for three days and two nights, which usually take place in late spring, early summer, or autumn.
Is it Nice Living in Japan?
Everyone loves Japan, both travelers, and residents. The beauty of Japan makes people adore and fall in love with the country.
“It’s nice living in Japan. It has a rich nature, beautiful four seasons, tempting cuisine, and great hospitality”, Ghufron says. “Also, I can naturally understand Japan’s philosophy of beauty that other countries don’t have”, he adds.
Japan has its unique aesthetic philosophy that makes the Japanese as they are today, including the culture and language. The philosophy and the deep meaning behind it are naturally understood by those who are Japan-born and raised, while it is slightly difficult to be understood (and even difficult to be translated to and explained in English!) by those who don’t.
For example, the philosophy of “mono no aware （哀れ・もののあわれ）” which means, “a wistful awareness of the impermanence of things, feeling moved by the beauty of things that don’t last long such as flowers, seasons, people’s lives, etc with a little sadness”. Another philosophy is “wabi-sabi（わびさび）” which means, “beauty within simplicity and imperfection”.
On top of that, Ghufron mentions that personal relationship in Japan is difficult. The Japanese are known to not have an interest in someone’s personal things and according to Ghufron, somehow there is an unseen wall that keeps people apart and sometimes makes people feel lonely.
Living in Japan as a Japan-born and Raised Muslim
With the reason Japan is a Muslim-minority country, many Muslim comers are worrying about how can Muslim live and fill their needs as a Muslim in the country.
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According to Ghufron, he doesn’t feel or face anything difficult at all in practicing Islamic teaching in Japan, preferably, Japan has a nice environment to practice the religion. Basically, in Japan, religion or belief is something private that is rarely being talked about or become a topic in Japanese society, This environment makes Muslims in Japan like Ghufron, conscious more about how special the faith is.
“The perspectives about life, world, God, are different with Indonesia-born Muslim and it is interesting”, he adds.