Posted in Family, General, Pictures

The last day of 2016

It’s already the fourth month in Islamic calendar and counting by that, today marks the 21st anniversary of my wedding. Alhamdulillah, I’m grateful for all the blessings in our lives. May Allah bless us with many more happy years together.

Today has been rather warm. I took several photos around our little garden today.

Yes, the roses are still here. I’m so blessed.

The bare dogwood against the beautiful blue sky.

The berries are gone.

The backyard bordering an abandoned house.

Some pink wild flowers in the front yard.

Posted in Family, Kids, Pictures

Chigiri-e Art

When we were in Nemba Cultural Village two weeks ago, I bought some washi papers to make chigiri-e projects.

I have never learned how to do this properly, so Mel and I just did it our own way.

So, here’s our first attempt.

The first one with the purple flower is Mel’s. Mine is the persimmons.

Posted in Family, Pictures

Yoshiya at Shinjuku Station

Last Saturday, my family went out just to have meals. My son, Ar wanted to eat kebab, so we went to Roppongi and ate at Kader Kebab.

After eating, we thought of exploring Shinjuku Station. We rarely go to this station even though back in the summer 2006, when my husband was doing his internship at a company in Roppongi and staying at a studio apartment far away in Kumegawa, we had to pass through Shinjuku Station to come to the city centre.

I think, even if I go to Shinjuku every day for one month to explore the station, I could still get confused of the exits, entrances and the train lines at this station. Remember when I went for my driving tests at Fuchu Driver’s Licence Center? I had to take the connecting train from Shinjuku. I went there for four times, the first time with my husband but he passed the test on the first attempt, so the other three times, I went alone. I only passed the test on my fourth attempt but on the way back, I got confused at Shinjuku Station. I usually just walked from Shinjuku JR Station to Shinjuku San-chome Station. However, that time I was confused so I had to take the Marunochi Line train to Shinjuku San-chome.

Anyway, on Saturday, I just managed to walk inside Odakyu. When it was time for dinner, we were not sure where to eat, but then we saw a restaurant that had a halal sign there. The name of the restaurant is Yoshiya.

Here are some photos from the restaurant.

Posted in General, Pictures

Winter Sunset

During the three days around Winter Solstice Day, we had had beautiful warm weather here. Yesterday, the temperature  had gone up to 19°C.

These are the pictures I took about 10 minutes before sunset today.

The first view is from the window near the stairs which overlook into my neighbour’s front yard.

The second view is through my son’s window on the north side.

The last one was taken from the balcony, showing the sky on the west side.

Posted in Family, General, Kids, Pictures

Heavy Snow in Urasa

11 years ago, my husband won a Monbukagakusho scholarship to further his studies in Japan. He decided to study MBA in Urasa, Niigata. Niigata had been hit by earthquake of 6.6 Richter scale just a year before in 2004.

Before the start of that daring adventure, we had to make many other brave decisions. He had to quit his job, I had to take unpaid leave from my job and finally we and our two kids had to move to Japan. We didn’t speak Japanese and we knew it wouldn’t be easy to get halal food here. We would have only the scholarship to support our family of four.

I had to wait till the end of school year for my eldest daughter Fa before we joined my husband Li in Urasa. He moved to Japan in September because his classes had already started and the three of us only came in late October. He was staying at the uni dorm in the beginning but he had found a little apartment for our family to move into as soon as we arrived.

It was Ramadan then and just five days before Eid. Most people were travelling back to their hometowns to celebrate Eid with their parents and families. I had a mixed feeling. I was looking forward to be with my husband again but at the same time, I felt sad for not being able to spend Eid with my parents. My daughter Fa was 8 and my son Ar was 4. Our flight was around 11 am but we had to be at the airport 3 hours earlier.

Each of us had a baggage allowance of 30 kg, however I couldn’t utilise it to the max since my biggest concern would be to look after the children, not carrying a lot of baggage. My brother-in-law who was then a pilot with the airline (and thus had a special pass) helped us to carry our hand-carries (Fa insisted on bringing her Serafina – a soft toy cat from Barbie the movie in her backpack – it occupied the whole bag) up to the plane. It was strange to be travelling abroad at this period, but the cabin crew just thought we were the family of a pilot going away  a few days before Eid because the pilot had to be on duty.

I was fasting that day but Fa decided not to because she said she wanted to eat KFC chicken before the flight (the KFC in Japan is not halal). Unfortunately it was still too early when we reached KLIA and KFC was still serving the breakfast menu, so Fa didn’t get to eat her favourite chicken before leaving the country. Pity her, but life is like that. We don’t always get what we wish for.

The flight took 7 hours. It was time to break my fast just before we landed, so I ate the delayed meal served by the airline for those who were fasting. It took us a while to get through the immigration and claimed our baggage. Li was already waiting with a friend. The friend had a Toyota Estima and had previously lived in Tokyo before moving to Urasa, so he was somehow familiar with the road. The journey from Narita Airport to Urasa took about 4 hours. We only made a stop once to buy some food supplies – halal chickens, rice and so on.

Li had already rented a 2K apartment which came with a large fridge. It was past midnight when we reached the apartment so I didn’t get to see the outside yet. The house has 2 rooms, both with tatami mats. The kitchen served as living and dining as well. The bathroom was separated from the toilet. It was cosy enough for us.

When we celebrated Eid five days later, we still didn’t have much in the house, not even proper plates, but we were just grateful to be together. I had brought some Malaysian Eid food with me, but other than that, I didn’t cook any special meal on Eid morning. We just made do with whatever we had. The Eid prayer was held at 7 am at the university community centre and Li had classes immediately after that, so he went for the prayer alone. Alhamdulillah, there were two other Malaysian families there, so we celebrated by visiting their houses and on the weekend the Muslim Students Association at the university also organised an Eid gathering.

Urasa had a very heavy snow the first winter we were there. The first snow arrived on the 1st of December 2005 and the last one was in late March 2006. Fa had to walk one mile in the heavy snow to get to her school. I was worried at first but eventually got used to it.

Last December we went on a trip and stayed at an Airbnb in Yuzawa and decided to revisit Urasa and managed to take the photo of our old apartment. Other than IUJ, we also visited Fa’s and Ar’s old schools. We tried to look for an old friend from the Snow Flake Club at the school but unfortunately she was away for Christmas. Snowfall came rather late somehow this season. Usually by the end of December, there would already be one meter of snow on the ground but it was just starting to snow when I took this picture of our old apartment. Every morning, I had to shovel the heavy snow away from the stairs before Fa left for school, and then repeat it several times throughout the day.

Posted in Family, General, Kids


Back in October, my husband’s family made a plan to visit us. They consisted of my parents-in-law, my sister-in-law with her husband and two kids and my brother-in-law with his eife and baby. Altogether there would be nine of them.

I was not worried about the rooms allocation so much but rather on the beddings requirements. I didn’t have enough for the guests.

I searched online on where to buy futons. I even went to the newly opened Nitori store in Nakameguro. I decided to buy them online but Li suggested that we waited till it’s closer to the date before buying anything.

By mid-November, we thought we should make the order for the futons and so confirmed with the guests about their date of arrival. My brother-in-law said he’d changed his mind. He was not coming after all because travelling with a baby during winter would be too troublesome. So we were down to six people.

One day, I mentioned to my Nihongo classmates about planning to buy futons. One of them suggested that I check the stock at Don Quixote. He told me there is one store in Nakameguro. I went there to have a survey but what caught my eyes were the Coleman sleeping bags instead. They were meant for going camping but I thought sleeping bags are much smaller and easier to store. I could let the two boys sleep in them. 

I Googled again to find out if anybody ever let their houseguests sleep in sleeping bags rather than on futons. I couldn’t find any satisfactory answer other than about kids using sleeping bags when having sleepover. However, my husband agreed with me that getting sleeping bags would be a much better solution. Futons are harder to get rid off when it is time to go back to our country for good. The rest of the furniture in this house (everything from sofa, beds, tables, chairs, curtains and even beddings) are on lease. At the end of the contract, we will just have to return them to the leasing company.

Then we heard another news. My mother-in-law was not well and she didn’t feel like travelling. If she wasn’t coming, of course my father-in-law wouldn’t be coming either.

In the end, we were down to only four houseguests. Three of them already arrived late last night. One is coming later during the weekend. We didn’t need to buy any extra futon or sleeping bag after all my worrying. 😄

I didn’t even have to think where to bring them around Tokyo. They already had their own plan. At 9 this morning, the three of them were all ready to go out and explore Ginza on their own. They didn’t even have breakfast at home. Now, all that I have to do is plan what to cook for dinner. 😊

Posted in General, Pictures

Exploring PicsArt

I’ve had the PicsArt app on my phone for a while but had only explored it just recently.

Here are two photos of the house that I’d edited using the app.

I’m not good at painting, so playing with this app is fun. It might not give the same pleasure people get from painting, but it’s enough to make me happy. 😊

Posted in General

My Garden in December

Most people consider December as the beginning of winter, but I count it by the solstice date, so in my mind, I still have about 2 weeks before winter officially begins.

I still have the same flowers I shared in my November post.

These are plants around my house.