(This article is an excerpt from an article I was asked to do in my last degree year for my university’s magazine, The ‘Aoba Kougyou Kaihou’ year 2007.)
I have always been intrigued by the Japanese culture and custom. Since childhood, reading mangas and watching animes has always been a favourite past time, and from there, the obsession in the japanese culture and tradition grew. This obsessions gave me the tendency to further my studies here.
My hope was granted by God, when I was offered to further my studies in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Tohoku University after passing the Monbusho Entrance Exam. Thus starts my life in Japan as a degree student.
Life in Japan has its ups and downs. It took me some time to become familiar with the surroundings and also the lectures which was in pure japanese.
As a Muslim, the first few months were especially tough for me in terms of food, because of religious restrictions. Basically, as a Muslim, I am forbidden to eat pork and drink alcohol/sake, and can only eat other meats that are slaughtered in a certain way. But the good thing about Japan is that it is a big island surrounded by sea, meaning that it is in the japanese culture to eat fish, thus the many fish dishes available in Japan like sushi and sashimi. This coincidence helped me a lot while I try to adapt myself to the new environment and while starting to learn how to cook for myself.
Nonetheless, I quickly made some friends among the Japanese students and also some foreign students from other countries too. This made me adapt myself to the studying environment, and we share information among ourselves and study together during exams whenever possible. One of the memorable moments was during examination week when my friends and I studied inside a restaurant because the libraries were closed!
One of the many things I love experiencing in Japan, particularly in Sendai is the changing of seasons, since we do not have seasons in Malaysia. And with the change of seasons, the idea of celebrating various events/celebration to commemorate that particular season was a very interesting concept to me. Throughout my life in Sendai, I experienced Hanamis* and barbecues in Spring, Hanabi Taikais** and International Festivals in Summer, Nabe*** parties in Autumn and Hikari**** pageants and skiing/snowboarding in Winter. Looking back at these experiences, how I have lived a wonderful life in Sendai, with the presence of wonderful friends who are always there when you need them. I will cherish these moments till my dying day.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the people and friends that have helped me directly or indirectly during my stay in Japan.
* A japanese culture of having a picnic under a cherry blossom tree while it blossoms. Literally means ‘Flower-seeing’
** Fireworks Tournament
*** An autumn occasion where a japanese soup is made inside a big pot and is added with vegetables, meat, fish and noodles, depending on your liking.
**** A unique event in Sendai during winter where the trees (with no leaves) throughout a main road near the city centre is decorated with lightbulbs and is lit during the night.