Monday, May 8, 2017

Japan: A Land Steep with Reminders - Part I

Assalamualaikum and greetings dear Bits and Pieces readers,

I went to Japan on March 10th to March 14th. For years I've been longing to travel to Japan so it was a do'a (prayer) came true. My brother and I visited Kobe, Tokyo, Hikone, Konan, and Kyoto in those five days.

However, I'm not narrating my journey in this post, at least not a physical one. This blog as you know, is not travel themed. But it was built to inspire others through my writing, and to that I stay true. This post is filled with advises and reminders. 

Day 1 - The Art of Alhamdulillah, Striving, and Patience
I was blown away on day 1, I couldn't quite believed that I'm in Japan! After acquiring our Japan Railway Pass at the airport, we find our way to Kobe Mosque, the oldest and most historic mosque in Japan. It had survived two major catastrophes; the World War II bombing and the 1995 earthquake, reportedly to be one of the worst earthquake in Japan.

Me in front of Kobe Mosque

I stepped out of Motomachi station confidently. With the pocket wifi, power bank, and my phone's GPS, we were confident that we won't get lost. It's only a 10 minute walk from Motomachi Station. What can possibly go wrong?

Well the GPS on my phone went wrong. It couldn't lock our location so it couldn't guide us to Kobe Mosque. We tried to find any nearby streets or buildings that were near to us and erected along the route to Kobe Mosque but to no avail. We then switched to my brother's brand new iPhone but he wasn't able to find the GPS function! It was really frustrating that our journey began in such a state of well, frustration!

We wandered aimlessly for half an hour. Our stomachs began to rumble and the cold was barely bearable. We haven't had lunch. We had planned to eat at Naan Inn before praying, a halal Indian restaurant just few steps away from the mosque. All in all we were stymied. I remembered that my head had played The Shallows, a movie full of frustration and suspense throughout where Blake Lively tries to reach for the beach just 183 meters away with a giant white shark in between.  

Despite all that, we had to remain calm and composed. I reminded myself of how much I wanted to be here. It's literally a dream come true to travel to Japan. So I kept thanking and praising ALLAH (the attitude of alhamdulillah) for giving me the chance to come here. Finally, after 45 minutes, my brother noticed a place that is near to Kobe Mosque. So we took the street and lo and behold, Naan Inn was at the right of us. Without further ado, we went inside and ate.

The interior of Kobe Mosque. Quite similar to the mosques in Turkey
since Islam came to Japan through the Ottoman Empire

After eating and praying, we walked back to Motomachi Station and head to Tokyo. In the shinkansen (Japan's bullet train), I wrote down my thoughts of this day. I had been reminded that despite any impediments in life, we must always be thankful to ALLAH, and remain patient and positive. This is because ALLAH will never let our effort go to waste. If not here, we will surely gain something in the akhirah (afterlife).   

Surah Hud (chapter 11) verse 115

Day 2 - The Mirage of Absolute Power
Although I live in one, I never quite like a bustling city life. Thus in my notebook, I didn't write down anything at the end of my day in Tokyo. I feel like there's nothing to write. There's only the typical stuff like eating and shopping. But as I walk down my memory lane of Tokyo, one stuck out: the Meiji shrine.

At the Meiji Shrine
The Meiji shrine was significant to me for one reason, the anime Samurai X. Any anime fans, excluding the hentai (basically porn) genre, would agree that Samurai X is one of a kind, definitely on par with Naruto. These two animes had long ignited the interest in Japanese culture and history within me. Samurai X tells the story of an assassin, Himura Kenshin, who had brought the Meiji era and ended the shogunate ruling system. After that, he abandoned his sword in exchange for a sakabato (a blunt sword), a symbol of his resolution to stop killing.

The shogunate ruling system was in place for more than six centuries before its downfall. For a ruling system that can last this long, no one could predict its demise. This piece of history reminds me that absolute power is unreal; it only exist with ALLAH. Humans are only granted limited power for a certain period. Hence we should not fear any corrupted person, whether (s)he is a leader, a bully, a criminal, a hypocrite, and similar others.

Surah Ar-Rum (chapter 30) verse 8

Day 3 - Diam - Diam Ubi Berisi
Diam-diam ubi berisi is a Malay proverb. It mostly refers to a quiet person or thing that hold something of substance inside. This proverb describes the village of Konan in Koka City beautifully. The streets were deserted and only a few people crossed our path. Although the village is a spitting image of a ghost town, in it lies a unique gem.

The street in Konan
Konan possesses the only remaining authentic ninja house in all of Japan, the Koka Ninja House. Once belonged to the Head of Koka ninja clan, the place was full of ninja traps, weapons, and scrolls containing ninja techniques. We even pretended to be ninjas and threw shurikens.

Inside the Koka Ninja House. Be weary that the tour is in Japanese.

On this day, I was reminded to not look down upon others and assume that I'm better than anybody. That person might have a "treasure" that I do not have. That person might be more wise than I am. Thus I should be more humbled, positive, and open minded.

Surah Qalam (chapter 68) verse 7

To be continued...