Posted in General

A Berry Nice Stroke of Luck

In my last post, I mentioned the unknown plant in my garden. I’m glad I found a blog that mentioned the names of berries in Japan.

Now, I know. The name of this berry plant is nandina.

Wild in Japan

Hi blog.


I was originally intending to write a piece to coincide with New Year’s Day, or more accurately, the Japanese period of celebrating the New Year, which pertains particularly to the first three days, but the period up to the 7th, matsu-no-uchi (松の内) – literally “inside the pine” – is still considered part of the New Year.

[caveat: certain regions or households may vary, with the matsu-no-uchi period extending as far as the 15th]


Unfortunately, things did not go to plan, partially because I was unable to find the subjects I wanted to photograph, partially because of the weather, and partially because of other commitments.

Notice how I used the word “unfortunately”, which comes from the root word “fortune”.  This notion of fortune or good luck – engi (縁起) in Japanese – is actually a very important concept within the framework of Japanese…

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Posted in General, Japanese

My Garden in November

I figured if I really want to blog, I should post the pictures I took, here rather than just sharing them on Instagram or Facebook.

Last autumn the only flowers I had in my garden were some yellow flowers that look like daisy which attracted the yellow butterflies. However, this year, on top of the yellow flowers, the roses are also blooming. They are not that spectacular but they give me enough pleasure when looking out the window of the tatami room. I feel so blessed that even in mid-autumn, I can still have flowers in a garden of my own. Alhamdulillah.

In the garden, there is also a plant with green reddish fruits. I don’t know its name. It must be some kind of inedible berry. This is how it looks.

This side of the garden is one long stretch from my bedroom, the living room and the tatami room. This is the garden view from the tatami room window.

Here is the view of the garden outside of my bedroom. The plant with the red leaves is a flowering dogwood. In summer/early autumn, it produces red fruits which attract many birds. It is lovely to listen to the birds singing. What irks me is the souvenir they left behind on the balcony next to my son, Ar’s room.     That gives me extra work to keep the balcony clean, but I guess that’s life. We shouldn’t really expect to have nice things without making any efforts. 

When we first came to view the house, we asked the agent for the name of the plant. He said he didn’t know. Because of the red fruits, I had mistakenly thought it was a Japanese barberry. But then, in spring when the flower appeared, I managed to find its correct name. The flowers are in white colour. I had seen other variety in pink and yellow.

This is how the flowers look like. This photo was taken from our balcony upstairs last April.

Posted in General

6 months in Japan (written in January 2016)

Today is 4th of November 2016. I’d just discovered a post from January 2016 which was unpublished because I typed it on my phone but when I tried to publish it, it was unsuccessful. It turned out that I didn’t turn on the data plan. I thought I’d lost it. I didn’t realise it is still here. So, I’m publishing it now.

It’s already the 27th of January, 2016. The first month of this year is almost gone. We arrived in Tokyo on the 26th of July and moved to our present house on the 25th of August. That means, it’s been half a year. If I’m working with a boss to answer to, she’d be asking for my 6 months review to see if I have accomplished whatever goals I set at the beginning.

Right now, I’m sitting on a magenta chair facing the counter number 4 for Notification of Birth/Death/Marriage etc. at Meguro Ward Office in Nakameguro. No, I do not have any birth, death or marriage to register. I come to this office to learn Japanese Conversation organised by MIFA (Meguro International Friendship Association) The class only starts at 10. So I have about 45 minutes to spare before the class.

I arrived here too early because I took the train immediately after walking Mel to her school. Mel’s school is just 1-minute walk from the train station. This is my fourth week coming here. I started this class on the 6th of January. For the previous sessions, I usually arrived here on the dots. That’s because I walked home to have my breakfast after taking Mel to school. I spent extra 20 minutes walking (to go home and then walk to the station again) and a few minutes to have my coffee and light breakfast. The train journey took 5 minutes and the walk from Nakameguro Station to this place is about 10 minutes.

Thus, for today I decided to be early. The best waiting place is definitely in this Meguro Ward Office because it’s warm. Waiting at the station or at the park would be very cold. Tokyo doesn’t have much snow but it can be quite chilly in the morning. Without gloves, my fingers would be numb. However, wearing gloves makes it difficult to get things out – my phone, key and train pass – of the handbag. A few weeks ago, just after my Japanese class, I passed by a hat shop. I found the type of gloves which would be convenient to use. They’re mittens, actually. They come with a separate top part which can be opened, folded and secured with a button.

I love the furry texture of these gloves. During our walk to Mel’s  school in the cold mornings, it would be so comfortable to rub my gloved hand over my red nose.

Posted in Writing

Nanowrimo Rebel


Dingin November

Jaket berwarna ungu

Langkah diatur

I have been very bad at updating this blog but about a month ago, I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I thought by signing-up I would be more motivated to write. However, since I am not very creative and had never learned creative writing properly (back in May, I started a free online course on Futurelearn but didn’t complete it – yeah, nothing new there), in the end my idea for the novel was not really concrete. I am just not good at writing descriptions be it of people, weather or anything. As for poetry, the only forms that I like are Japanese Haiku and  Malay pantun. I will try to write a Haiku in Malay as part of my blog entries.

I read some novels to get ideas. I borrowed books from the library, even the classic Pulitzer Prize Winner Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. I also bought Meg Cabot’s Size 14 Is Not Fat Either for 300 yen from a second-hand bookstore. I am entertained by the way Meg Cabot wrote. I tried to motivate myself by reading Gina Yap Lai Yoong’s  A Writer’s Journey. As for To Kill A Mockingbird, it dealt with a heavy issue which is still relevant until now, however I couldn’t finish it even after a month. It is a heavy reading, not meant as something one reads to wind down. I had to return it to the library after receiving a reminder through the phone and also by post. I feel really terrible about it. How could I commit myself to writing a novel when I could not even complete a novel that had been written by someone else?

When the first of November came, I tried to start the novel. However, I could not even feel good with the first sentence. I typed and then deleted it, several times. It was frustrating. Then on the second day, after returning the unfinished books to the library, I made a declaration on Instagram. I announced that I am going to blog this month, instead of writing a novel.

To reach 50,000 words a month, will require 30 very long daily entries or what is more realistic is to have shorter but many entries a day. As of now, I have managed only about 430 words. If I want to succeed, by the end of the 3rd day, I should have reached 5,000 words already. Can I really do this? I believe I can, with a lot of efforts, Insya-Allah. We will find out by the end of this month.