2011

Assalamualaikum…

Hey!It’s been a long2 time since I wrote here. Slightly more than a year. I didn`t really have specific reasons why I stopped writing, but I just didn`t have the mood or feeling to write or share anything. Most probably because I had quite a busy year last year. Lots of things happened during that time, and I am very grateful to Allah because almost all of them are good ones. Yup, you can say that it was a happy one year+ for me.:))) It will be a very very long post if I am too mentioned them all here, so I decided to give just quick updates of some important events during this past one year.

1. I finally stepped my foot in university in spring last year, at last after 3years of diploma in college. My university is somewhere in the northern part of Japan, a place where they have lots of snow, and longer winter, so it is a new environment for me. During college, I was in Fukuoka, in south Japan where we get more sunlight, and longer summer. Even during the winter, it hardly ever gone below 0 degree, the coldest was maybe 5 degrees, and we hardly ever got snow there. But in my current place, minus degrees is common, and sunlights are quite rare during winter. Snow fall heavily, and that makes life quite hard during that time as we have to walk to the campus every single day, and if you try to walk in snow, you would know how tiring it is. I took quite a  number of classes in in both semesters, with 2 or 3 classes everyday, 4 on friday, as I planned to get enough credit so that I can have a ‘relaxing’ 4th year. Now, I am in 4th year, my final year, and I have only 3 classes this semester, and no class next sem. Yeay! Of course I still have my final year research to be done but I am glad that I wont be burdened too much by my classes and so on. Gambarimasu!

Early winter @ campus

2. I went back to Malaysia last summer, after 2 years, and it was a super great holiday! Not only I get to meet my family after such a long time, I got to celebrate Hari Raya at home with my loved ones. I celebrated 3years of Raya(1+2belated Raya) and the feeling was awesome. I got to eat everything I`d been craving to eat, meet eveyone who I`d been eager to meet, and do everything I`ve wanted to do. Simple said, Raya sakan lah! Hehe.  Marvellous summer holiday!

Raya 2010

Raya 2010

3. Life in university is very different with the life I had in college. There are more Malaysians here, 30+ of them to be exact, compared to 5 of us during college. During college we did do activities together, but I can say that we mixed more with the Japanese. Me myself was the only foreigner in my class back then, and now I have 5 other Malaysians together with me. With the large number of Malaysians here, we have a lot of activities together. We would have at least one every month, where mostly we would go for jalan2 to places and have barbeques, picnics etc. I can see things that I cant usually see in college, like their unity and cooperation in planning for trips, during preparing food the night before and so on. Yes, we did also have something like that in college, but usually it was more spontaneous act, like, “jom kuar esok jom”, something like that. So there was no much discussion or planning involved. We also didnt have annual events like new students welcoming party, seniors farewell party, or sports tournament among us back then. And ya, we also have Yasin reciting here every Thursday night, which the last time I remember having it during high school. All in all, I enjoy my life here. 🙂

New mates

Akita family

Tohoku Malaysians

4. This years spring holiday, I went back home again! I was just back 1/2 year ago, but I decided to go back again coz I had to get a few things settled, and I had a few other things I intended to do back home. One of them, I finally got my driving license this holiday! I was sangat2 happy, sangat2 lega, memang sangat2! I’d dreamt of having it for the past few years, since I graduated from high school, and the moment my instructor passed the licensed into my hand, I was like rasa nak lompat2 jak! haha! Of course la sik sampey gya, mestila keep cool, amik dari nya, padah makseh and jalan slow2 masuk rumah. Padahal lam hati nang suk gila! Hehe. I also got to go for a holiday with my family, though a short one, it was great! Sebab lamak dah sik gi bercuti ngan family. Lamak gilak2. I also get to meet with my family on my father’s side in Melaka, kesian nenek sebab kata rindu nak jumpa. Last time I went back to Melaka was during World Cup in German, which was in 2006! Nang lamak gila. There, we attended the wedding ceremony of my 2 cousins, who are siblings. They had the majlis persandingan together, and we took that chance to balik kampung. You know, quite a few of people I know got married during this spring holiday. Those my 2 cousins(one is a year younger than me), and then a classmate during Japanese Language preparatory school, and my ex-roommate at that time(who is also a year younger). Then I realize, dah tua dah aku tok duhal, dah umur where people around me are getting engaged, married and so on. Tapi kenak aku rasa aku agik nemiak? Haha. 😛

@Pusat Sains Negara

Majlis bersanding

5. As we all know, Japan experienced a massive earthquake and tsunami recently, where the northern part of of it`s main island`s east coast was the most devastated areas. I was really shock when I found out about the news on that friday afternoon, and I was really2 grateful and thankful to Allah that I was already back in Malaysia at that time. I was really worried with the safety of my friends in Japan, but thank God that all Malaysians were safe, including those at my place. I did contacted some of them through facebook, and they were fine. My place also endured quite a big earthquake that according to my friends some electric poles outside our house went down. But gratefully, they were not under tsunami`s area as we are on the west coast of Japan. But still they had to endure one cold night without electricity, and the phones were also down. And they had to face shortage of food in supermarkets, and everywhere as a result of panic buying. Actually till today, there are still certain shelves in the supermarket are still empty, mostly the yogurts, milk shelves and instant food area. But things are getting better and better by day. Japan is still struggling with the nuclear power plant problem, but I do believe that the government is doing its best to keep it in control. So mom, dad, family and friends back home, there`s no need be worried as we are all safe and ok here. The embassy are doing well keeping in contact with us and I know they will they do their best in guaranteeing our safety here.

Yeah, it`s gonna be another year for me here. I am praying to Allah for good times ahead, semoga segala urusan kita dipermudahkan dan semoga kita semua dikurniakan kejayaan oleh-Nya di dunia dan di akhirat. Kita hanya mampu merancang, namun Allah yang menentukan. Tapi itu bukan bermaksud kita hanya duduk dan tunggu sahaja untuk sesuatu berlaku. Berusahalah dan kemudian bertawakal pada-Nya, insyaAllah kita akan dapat apa yang kita impikan. 🙂

Class trip

For 3 days before our graduation day, our class went for a ski trip in Nagano prefecture. We planned this trip as our graduation trip and last activity together before finishing our college life. We gathered at Fukuoka airport on that Monday morning and ride the plane to Komatsu Airport in Ishikawa prefecture before taking a 4hours bus trip from the airport to Nagano.

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Fukuoka Airport boarding hall

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Boarding the plane

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Komatsu Airport arrival hall

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Bus to Nagano

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Nagano still in snow

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We arrived in Nagano at around 1pm and checked in at our hotel soon after arriving. Then we went to the ski resort to pick our rental skis, snowboards and wear. My friends were all in great excitement as it was the first ski@snowboard experience for most of them. We then get back to the hotel to change into the ski@snowboard  attires and and then head to the ski resort together. Since it was still the first day, we spent the time learning and getting use to the skis and boards. We were there till about 5pm and by that time I saw that everyone had managed to at least skied and boarded down the beginner`s course without falling down.

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To the hotel

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Marybell Hotel

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To the rental shop

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The 'short cut' told by makcik at the hotel

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Getting our boards and wear

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Ready to glide!

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My friend, Shingai

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On the second day, since that everyone had master the basic skills, we tried ourselves doing some more difficult ones like making the ‘S’ shape and others. We also went to the more sloppy and difficult upper courses and some even already tried doing jumps, ollies etc. Trying and challenging to do all these skills are quite hard for amateurs like us and we do fall down lots of times in many ways either falling forward, backward or whatever ways you can think of. Skiing and snowboarding are very dangerous if you don`t know how to control yourself, in fact I once fell with my neck and shoulder down first and it was quite scary but fortunately there weren’t any injury involved. That night, after all the falls during the day, we all had muscle-aches everywhere over the body which made it quite difficult for us to move around hence why I think everyone went to sleep very early. I think mostly everyone were already asleep by 10pm that night. Me myself were already in my dreamland 2 hours before that.

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View from a restaurant at the resort

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Great view

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Got to ride this to go to the upper couses

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Two friends of mine

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The room

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Dinner time

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On the third day, we woke up early to pack our things as we were going to check out after breakfast that day before going for another ski and snowboarding session at the resort. After checking out, we put our things at one place and we then went for the last session as we are going back to Fukuoka at 2pm that day. On this day, we had almost the routine like the day before. After having much fun at the ski resort, we returned our rental equipments, change our clothes and had some lunch before boarding the bus to Komatsu Airport. From Komatsu Airport, we ride into the plane back to Fukuoka Airport where we then say goodbye to each other and go back to our own places.

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Burying Nakamuta

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Waiting for our bus

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Checking in

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Back in Fukuoka

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Oniyo Fire Festival Part2 – Burning the Giant Torches

Part1 is HERE

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After 3 times of circle around the shrine, they then all gathered in front of the shrine belfry for the main event. When every group has arrived at their OH-TAIMATSU(big torches), all the small torches fire were put off, as well as other lamps and lights. The surrounding was in total darkness.

At exactly 9pm, everyone`s eyes went to one corner lit with a small light where a man was standing with a sea-shell(is it call sea-shell?) in his hand. He then started blowing the shell signing the start of the main event followed with a blow of some kind of music with a traditional flute.

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As the flute blow ended, the group of people started making fire to fire up the giant torches. With the 3,2,1 counting, they start burning the giant torches, which was poured with some alcohol(@ kerosene, am not so sure) before that. The quiet and dark surrounding then became lively as the place was brighten up by the fire, with drums beating and some performances at the front stage. While the torches were burning, they said their praying chants along. As the fire went further down the torches, they cut the ropes tiding them and threw the ropes to the crowds waiting, who believe that keeping them would bring good luck. If you look at the pictures, you might think that all the fire burnings look dangerous, as a matter of fact they are, but to ensure the safety of everyone, the firemen were present there at all time.

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When the fire had burnt about 1/3 of the torches, they then carried the torches one by one to a place in front of the main shrine, where they stopped there continuing their praying words for some time. After that, they carried the torches again, this time circling the shrine area until the torches were almost burnt up. During that time, they would stop a few times to have someone climb on the torch and cut the ropes around the it as the fire went towards the other end. The group behind us at one time had a British boy doing that and he was encouragingly cheered by his other group members. Lastly, they carried the torches to a disposing place and with a speech and some claps, they end their festival for this year.

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We then went back together with our group members to the civic hall. There, everyone was treated with some Japanese deserts and their most liked favorite drink, the green tea. We feel so lucky that we were given the opportunity to participate and watch from close a big traditional event like this one. We would like to thank the committee members for inviting us and even providing the transport for sending us back to college. Hope that they will invite us again next year, so that our friends who didn`t make it this time would also get the chance to experience your unique culture.よろしくお願いします!

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Oniyo Fire Festival Part1 – Burning the Decorations

*Some photos in the post are not suitable for 17years and below`s viewing…

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Oniyo Fire Festival, which is held in Daizenji Tamatare-gu Shrine in Kurume-city, is one of the three largest fire festivals in Japan. This event takes place on the last day of the Shinto ritual, ONI-E , on the 7th of January every year.

According to the diary of  Yakushiji Temple, the festival originated from a happening  in the year 368, when Fujidaijin(a minister at that time) cut off the head of Yusurachin, who was torturing local people, and burnt it.

On this 7th day after New Year,  they will have a Shinto ritual during the festival in where people pray for peace and safety , good harvest and the prevention of disasters as well as to ward off evil spirits.

This year we got an invitation from the event`s committee to take part in the event. We were excited to join but when told that we would have to wear cawat during the festival, we declined the invitation. Kami tak sanggup nak pakai cawat tu. Sebab bukak aurat satu, pastu nak pakai tengah winter yang sejuk beku ni? Event tu malam pulak tu. Tak sanggup!

However, a few days after that, we were told that we can join the event as a 見学者(observer) and we agreed. However, as our substitutes, four Japanese junior students came forward to join the cawat group. And on evening January the 7th, off we go riding on Pakcik Kida`s car.(Pakcik Kida is from our hostel`s office)

We get off at Yamanomachi Civic Hall, where we would join the Yamanomachi`s locals who would participate in the event. During the festival, they will be 5 more groups from the other areas and they will gather at some place near the shrine later. We arrived quite early, so while waiting for the others to come we were served with some food. Then, more and people came and joined us at the table. Some of them looked scary, some looked like yakuzas, but when we try and have some chat with them, we found out that all of them were very friendly. They were all excited because they don`t have  that much chance socializing with foreigners like this. We got ourselves busy entertaining  their questions about our countries, cultures etc. Oh ya, at the same time, maybe encouraged by excitement on those people`s faces, our Laos friend, Danang suddenly told his desire to join them. Without much hesitation they welcomed him and upstairs Danang went to change into the cawat. After that he was told to take some sake(liquor) to heat his body as it will be ice-freezing outside.

At about 700pm, when everyone was finally present, they had some briefing and then off we went heading to the shrine.

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At a field near the shrine, they started burning the New Year`s house decorations made from dry wheat branches. They burnt them in groups divided according to their origin areas while chanting their praying words.

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These guys below are my juniors, and at the most right is Danang. Tengok macam sejuk giler. Tapi, since most of the time they were near the fire, they were actually very hot. I tried going close to the fire and it was sangat panas ok. But when you distanced yourself from it, it`ll be freezing-cold. So, you must have the skills to determine the appropriate distance from the fire so that you won`t be to hot, or too cold. Suam-suam kuku kata orang.. =P

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At about 830pm, it was almost time for the main event.The group paraded to the shrine and circle the shrine area 3 times carrying their small torches before gathering  at the places where the big torches are.

These big torches which are made from MOSO-DAKE(the biggest kind of bamboo in Japan), are called OH-TAIMATSU. They are 6 of them and they are 1meter in diameter, 15 meters long and weigh 1.2 tons each. These  OH-TAIMATSU are placed in front of the belfry in the shrine yard.

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To be continued in Part 2…

Kaki Gari

Three weeks ago, we were brought by a pakcik from our hostel`s office to experience 「かき狩り」(kakigari), which means “persimmon picking”. We went to a farm owned by another pakcik who takes care of our college`s gymnasium hall. That two pakciks know each other, so it was not that hard to ask for permission to go to his farm. So, that Saturday morning, we hop into the pakcik hostel`s car, and went to pakcik gym`s farm which was about 45 minutes ride from our college.

We didn`t went straight there, but we waited him at some place near his farm.Then, he came and he led the way to his farm through a narrow road going up the hill.Arrived there, we were immediately passed with gloves and some kind of scissors which would be use to cut the persimmon`s stems.Then, after some introduction of ourselves and some explanation  about the fruit, we started going to the persimmon trees to do our jobs.

Here we go..

We had to be very careful when picking the fruits so that they wont be damaged. If the fruits got even a very small scratch on it, they are no longer eligible to be sold. So bearing that in our minds, we did our job carefully.

Kaki(persimmon) fruit

Persimmon trees

The persimmon trees are not that tall. So it was not very hard picking them up. The only problem that inexperienced people like us had was picking the right fruits, not the still young ones and not too old ones. So it took us quite a long time choosing the fruits to be picked up.

What happens when left too long on the trees - they rot

Petik buah bang?

"Lapar nih..aci tak makan cani jer?"

After about an hour of picking session, we managed to collect about three crates of persimmons. Then we had some free time talking with him and at the same time having an “all you can eat” persimmon session too. The pakcik gym`s wife was very kind enough to come with some hot coffee for us. During the conversation, we were told that the persimmons produced around that area are very good in terms of quality and taste. He also told that the area`s farms did won some national level awards for their fruits. No wonder I felt that the fruits that we ate tasted better than the one that I got from my friend a few days before.

Kena susun elok2, nanti rosak

Nak makan basuh dulu

Before we went back, we got ourselves a big plastic bag full with persimmons from that pakcik. That was very kind of him despite all those which we already ate before that. After thanking him and his wife, we then rode the pakcik hostel`s Pajero to go back to college.

Kiri sekali pakcik hostel, sebelah dia pakcik gym n yang bawah tu wife dia

On that way back, the pakcik stopped by at a wine factory to show the other overseas student the wine making process. We were not interested in wine, so we the Malaysians took the opportunity to perform our Asar prayer. While waiting for them, we just walked around the factory`s compound and did some camwhoring. After they finished their visit, we then head back to the Pajero and went back to our college…

~Places~ 1

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Kitakyushu Local Train

@ PLatform

Rail Crossing

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~People~ 1

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Baby in Blue

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