Camaraderie in Osaka

Written by Salma Maulani and Miftah Haniful Ammar

We were cold and tired. Hours of walking with a heavy bag and luggage made our back aching and our feet hurting. We used to live in a tropical country where a personal car or motorcycle is common to support our mobility. All of sudden, we were in the middle of a windy winter night, in a foreign land where we barely speak enough of the language and we had to figure out the public transportation. On top of it all, we were still jet lagged.

We left our hometown on January, 8 2020 at 2.20 PM and landed at Kansai International Airport the next day, January, 9 2020 at 2 PM. Hours of transit with uncomfortable sleep, one of our team (the only girl with no experience in travel overseas) booked the wrong flight ticket, got lost in finding the hotel, and so on. It was only the beginning of our one-week journey in Osaka Japan.



At that moment, when it felt like the edge of our physical and mental limits, it was when things got interesting. It might have made our anger creeping up to our spine, where every word from others might be annoying and irritating. On the other hand, we need to survive and figure things out, we need to solve the problem, each decision has to be made with many considerations in a short time period. Strangely enough, in the middle of that windy winter night with tons of obstacles, our heart feels very warm. This experience taught us many lessons.

That night after we landed at KIX Airport, we took a nice warm shower and the thing that we had been dying to do for the last 24 hours, a good sleep in a comfortable hotel bed. Our first day came, time to begin the real journey. We started with breakfast at the nearest convenience store and get ready for registration as conference participants at Ritsumeikan University. We headed to Ibaraki, Osaka around 8 am. Figuring out the public transportation system was a big challenge for us. Obviously, we hopped on the wrong train for the first time. Many entrance and exit gates, local trains or rapid trains, transit stations, surely made our head hurt. We almost arrived late but we made it. The registration went well and because that day was Friday, as a muslim and most of the team members were males, we went to Ibaraki Mosque to do the Friday prayer. We walked until our feet hurt and got lost to find the right bus in order to find that mosque. This hardship that we had been through surely taught us how it feels to be the minority.



In Ibaraki Mosque, we met a very kind-hearted gentleman, Pak Hasan-it was his name after he became mualaf. While we discussed finding halal food as lunch, he offered a ride back to our hotel with his car because the nearest bus station is far. He also heard our discussion before and decided to treat us an Indian halal food. Our meeting with pak Hasan was a pure coincidence, we felt like he was the help given by Allah SWT. We were very tired after the long walk, we were hungry because we only ate at convenience store as breakfast before, and it is very hard to find halal restaurant with affordable price.



While we enjoyed our lunch, Pak Hasan told us the story of his journey in converting his religion to Islam. Why he converted his religion, what are the responses of his family, and many problems that he had been through. His stories taught us many life lesson, we became more grateful because we live in a country with the largest Muslim population in the world. At that time, Pak Hasan also told us that he wants to make a bigger mosque and spread Islam in Japan. We really support it and his story truly touched our heart.

The next day, the conference day went well and smoothly. We learned many things from other researchers around the world and we had a lot of fun discussions. It was such an eye-opening moment for us. We felt very happy and glad that we had this chance to meet and had a discussion with those amazing people. We even continue our discussion on the next day with Professor Virginia Peng from Ritsumeikan University.



On this Journey, we visited Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto as well. We shopped in Dotonbori and took many pictures with the famous Glico Sign there. After the conference day, we can fully enjoy Japan as tourists.



However, if we could be honest, what matters the most from this Journey was not the pictures that we posted on our Instagram, it was not the skincare, clothes, gundam, snack or random Japanese things that we bought. It is not about the place or things but the heat pack that we shared, our simple breakfast chicken karage with microwaved instant rice made with love, the food treated by Pak Hasan, our conversation and discussion, our mini games while hours of transit and so on. What matters the most is the people, the experiences, the memories and what we learned from that.



This one-week Journey to Osaka Japan is surely deepen our friendship, teach us how it feels to be the minority, connect us with many amazing people, give us opportunity to practice problem solving, decision making and so on. It made us realize that being alone is okay but being together with the correct and amazing people is great. It was a fun journey with great camaraderie.

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