My Nippon Journey

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My Nippon Journey

Since the Action for Life 3.5 invitation mail came into my inbox I started thinking to be part of it, but at that time it was not so clear yet what sort of decision I should make up, my iofc Indonesian team start to consider who will the most appropriate delegation to come to that important programme. And then, Huda, Umam, Awen and I start to have a quiet time together to decide who is the most appropriate delegate to that programme. After several days, the team decide that according to the invitation’s criterias that it should be an AfL 3’s alumni, so there are two options, me and Umam. Umam said clearly that he wouldn’t be able to come for several reasons.

And the only option was myself, and I started thinking more seriously to that invitation, a lots of commotions came into my mind, some considerations came into my mind, one of them due to my financial situation which was not so good at that time to come, and I also had a strong conviction that I shouldn’t be received financial support anymore from overseas, because I already had a lots of big amount of moral and financial support when I attended the action for life 3, and moreover I felt that I don’t like to keep relying to other’s help. And then I had a several skype conversations with Tuan Anh from Vietnam and YY, and then I was convicted to come with several thoughts:

* I want to express my self as well as representing my country with the best way I can, to be honest I am challenged with Han Ting words at the last Action for Life 3 closing ceremony, and unconsciously I’ve been waiting the right moment to do that, and I strongly think that the moment comes!
* With the limited skills I have I will contribute to the AfL 3.5 team in anyways!
* Humbly learning how the Japanese IofC team work, and about the Japanese society and culture.
* To fully support the mission of AfL 3.5

An the journey started, I started to apply for the visa and some permittions, I went ups nd downs between Jakarta, Surabaya and my home town island, Madura to apply for the visa, and after a great struggle and some great helps from some friends, especially Ochay, AwenUmam, Huda and Lusi, and great moral and technical support from friends in abroad, especially Kiyoshi Nagano-san, and cici’ Han-Ting my visa was issued within 3 days.

Then, in the early morning of 13th accompanied by Awen (thanks wen!) I went to the Airport by taxi, and the taxi rolled so fast to the airport, Awen fell asleep during on the way to the airport meanwhile in the taxi and I kept talking to the driver to make sure that he wouldn’t be sleepy. Bandar Udara Internasional Soekarno-Hatta (Soekarno-Hatta International Airport), before I started my check-in process, I and Awen went to a small praying room called musholla to perform fajr (early prayer) praying in jama’a (in a group), and then I and Awen saying goodbye to each other, and then I started my check in process, my check in process went smoothly, as usual, going abroad always makes my heart a bit trembling, but this time less tremble, because I know where I would go: Japan! The doraemon and Shunsuke Nakamura’s country, and then I passed the immigration officer smoothly, and one thing that made me a bit surprised was, just exactly behind me in the queuing immigration line, there was a very familiar face, while moving forward I started thinking who he was, do you know who they are? Yeah, when I turned over my face for the second time, I saw one of the popular Indonesian celeberity: Anang and Krisdayanti (both of them are popular singer in Indonesia) that was a little serendipity surprise at that time, and then soon after that the dashing Malaysian Airlines (oh boy, I always wish that every time I go abroad I will use Garuda Indonesian Airlines, but it didn’t happen yet), took me to Kuala Lumpur, then took me to the Nippon’s land.

Fuji-Yama looked so friendly welcoming me from the plane’s window, and all the passenger was amazed by that beautiful scenery of Mount Fuji from the distance, and soon after that the plane landed safely on Narita International Airport, and a lady, with a board written “Abdullah Alwazin-Indonesia” welcomed me so warmly, yes, she was Mrs.Yoneyama, picking me at the airport, and with her son, Masatoshi Yoneyama-san we went together to their apartment.

Mrs.Yoneyama’s Apartment: Welcome to The Technology!

In mrs.Yoneyama’s apartment I had a chat with both Mrs.Yoneyama and Masatoshi-san about Japanese culture and their family, what impressed and surprised me a lot when I went to the toilet (oh boy, I’m so alert to notice this thing! I can’t stop myself to keep noticing to this stuff), at that time, after I finished my toilet stuff I wanted to flush, and there were so many buttons next to the toilet with a lots japanese signs, I even couldn’t be able to read, so I thought all these buttons meant to flush the waste in the toilet, I was a bit doubt with my choice, but anyway rather than not flushing it’s better to try, and the robotic stuff started to slide within the toilet, I just said wow, and then suddenly the water splashed into my face, I was surprise, and then I called Masatoshi-san to fix the thing, oh boy, it seemed that my surrounding said that: welcome to Japan! before I went to bed I had a long chat with her son, Masatoshi-san. And in the morning I was served by a huge breakfast I got so full with the fresh breakfast, and it was a very perfect welcoming from a Japanese family, and soon after that accompanied by Masatoshi-san I went to Tokyo to assemble with the rest of the team, and then a super-fast train brought us to Tokyo, it just passed the rush hour so the train was not so crowded, but for me even though it would be crowded, I thought that it will be still convinion he he he, during on our way to Tokyo I had a boy’s chat with Masatoshi-san. Chitose Funabashi railway station, I said goodbye and arigato gozaimash-ta very much to Masatoshi-san, and I was handed to Mrs.Kuniko Fujiyama-san who welcomed me at that station which situated on that Odakyu line, and then she brought me to the IC International house which place on Setagaya-ku housing nearby the station, we walked so fast to the house.

Welcoming at IC International House.

Then after more less 15 minutes walking from the station, we arrived at IC International house, mrs.Kuniko-san said Japanese morning greeting “konnichiwa”, and then soon after I was welcomed by the gentleman behind this programme mr.Kiyoshi Nagano-san, and then soon after that I assembled with the rest of the team, a group of people from Han-Ting and Hsiao-Yun from Taiwan, Dok Virak from Cambodia and Nguyen Huy Trong from Vietnam and Nakayama-san from Japan welcomed me so warmly, and then after that straightly I joined the preparation meeting, in this meeting my vision and passion came again to light up my spirit in the meeting, yeah this was my first International coordination meeting since the last Action for Life 3, in this meeting I become more aware that every thing I said, every thing I do will always create the images of Indonesian, this kind of awareness. And also I was so jealous to Han-Ting and Hsiao-Yun at that meeting they collaborated almost perfect, and they represent Taiwan so well, oh boy, I wish that I could do like this as well with Umam, but it’s quite often we don’t communicate very well to each other, but at least we make some efforts to do so.

And then soon after that a Japanese tea ceremony was prepared to welcome us, it was a fun and solemn Japanese tea ceremony, from this ceremony I observe how Japanese culture really takes seriously about “in orderness and well organizedness”, yeah even at the way they eat and drink.

My Vietnamese roommate: Trong!

Yeah, this time I shared a room with a Vietnamese, his name Nguyen Huy Trong, he comes from Ho Chi Min City like Tuan-Anh as well, mainly the Vietnamese IofC team comes from this city, he’s a bit different character with Tuan-Anh, but in general I saw similarity between both of them, they have a very strong the sense of nationalism, yeah this my first time to share a room with a Vietnamese, because last time in AfL 3 I didn’t have opportunity to share a room with Tuan Anh.

Trong, he was so curious about my religion, I shared about my religion to him mainly before we went to bed and during resting time, this sharing also helped me a lot to elaborate more about my own faith and many aspects of it, because I became the only Muslim representative to him at that time. And meanwhile I also ask him about his faith, at the first, just like ordinary Vietnamese, his answer was “ I don’t have any religion or faith”, but later on, when I asked him about the tradition in his family then I understand that what he means with “no religion” , in my understanding it means there is no what so called “organized religion”, because I saw in his stories that there are a lots of traditional faiths which still performed in Vietnam it’s mainly derived from Buddhism tradition.

Trong…Trong…Trong, this gentleman just like his name is very strong in his leadership character, we challenged, helped and supported each other to be a good leader, this gentlemen is also able to speak a little Japanese.

30th International IC Conference at Miura Kaigan

And after several preparation meetings in IC House in Tokyo finally we departed to a small city called Miura Kaigan (am I correct?), where the 30th International IC Conference was held, the conference was placed on Mahalova Minds Annex building, we’re very fortunate at that time because we were able to see the Mount Fuji so clearly, because the weather was clear at that time. And then meetings again with the team!

In this conference I met a lots of different Japanese people’s characters and also I met my old friend there, Atsushi Sasaki! He visited my country 2 years ago for a youth that was held in Puncak East Java.

Again!, in this conference I was so impressed by the way Japanese IofC team organized the conference, first they were so punctual (absolutely punctual) about the timing, every sessions were started exactly on the time, second, I observed another side of Japanese people, I used to think that Japanese people is a very serious people, but I was wrong, in some ways they also have some what so called absolute serious flexibility, I saw them dancing and laughing on the last evening of the conference, even the senior and youth they mingled together, it’s awesome dancing, third , I also notice that Japanese language starting to be one of the world’s language, since in that conference I saw some foreign people spoke in Japanese language so fluently, fourth, wa ta siwa nihon go! This is Nippon man!, yes this was, I am also impressed by the way they conducted this conference, in this conference, they conducted it by using their own language even though it was an international conference, we gaijin people got some translator devices, I was so amazed, they are so proud of their own language, but they are still have great curiosity to learn and appreciate other’s culture without ignoring their own rich culture, fourth, food also took a lots of my concerns ha ha ha. And in this conference I shared about how IofC in my country work on multifaith issues and other’s youth issues, meanwhile Trong and Virak shared on Cambodian and Vietnam dialogue.

Is it a serious and solemn conference?

At the first the conference looked so serious, yes it was good indeed, but in some points I think that some ice breakers also needed, and at that time I was so impressed by the way our multinationals AfL 3.5 team broke the ice, we made some songs “peace song” and we created skits to flavor and light up the participants’ spirit, thanks guys, you’re rock guys!

Let’s go to Hot Springs! (ehm…may be it will be just like Taiwanese Hot Spring Style)

In the midst of the conference, we had several “fun time” together, one of that was when we had a noodle party together, mainly the participants were Japanese and Korean participants, we had the fun time together through eating noodle presented the Korean people, it’s so funny even though they have a lots of similarity in their physical appearance but they speak English towards each other, it’s so funny. Some people made jokes, laughing, drinking beer (not me ofcourse!, I just looked at them drinking, it is ok my friends just drink, I’d better choose my tea that’s fine!)

Noodle parties was ended…and then they invited whether I want to go to the Hot Spring, what hot spring? Yes hot spring, okay probably, I thought probably it will look like the Taiwanese Hot Spring style, it is ok man I can go, then whattt?!! When I entered the Hot Spring room’s gate I saw a man with totally without any cottons in his body, and the rest of my Japanese friends were quite okay with that situation, some of friends said that this is the Japanese Hot Spring style, oh boy, just like the Garden of Eden, and once again, the circumstances said welcoming words for me: welcome to Japan!

Finally the conference was over, we together said farewell and gratitude to each other for a great and meaningful conference, and then we moved back to Tokyo by a super fast train towards Chitose Funabashi railway station.

Chitose Funabashi railway station…

Finally we arrived at that station after more less 1 hour trip from Miura Kaigan, my Japanese friend Atsushi Ota was welcomed by his wife, Mrs.Yuko Ota, she was one of the Japanese participants at the last 10th Asia Pacific Youth Conference in Malaysia, she knows some of my friends in Indonesia, like Bachrul and Dadan. And soon after I was invited to have a dinner with them in restaurant nearby the station, once again we had a fun again!, and what took my attention a lot, when they ordered alcoholic beverages, they did respect me a lot, I was very touched and so grateful for IofC community, they said it is okay, they know that I am Muslim and I don’t drink alcoholic beverages (oh boy, actually I was so tempted to drink sake, but, I have to keep myself on my own track), they ordered me some cups of Japanese tea, yeah what impressed me a lot from this, that I still can be their friend without any fear to be rejected if I don’t follow their habit, I am really grateful for this friendship, arigato gozaimash ta my friends!

2 days sightseeing: Shibuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo City Centre and Kamakura.

After a few days we spent our time in Odawara, we had our sightseeing programme in Tokyo and Kamakura, two faces of Japanese culture, technology and tradition, after morning’s meeting soon after that Atsushi Sasaki-san brought us to Tokyo city centre in near Shinjuku railway station (I’m a bit puzzled between Shinjuku and Shibuya), and then on the day after Tanaka-san brought us to see the traditional side of Japanese society, he brought us to a district called, the place was absolutely beautiful plus accompanied by such a nice person like Atsushi Sasaki-san and Tanaka-san, it was so perfect, was I a tourist? Was that so? Yeah I was.

School Programme in Odawara

Programme started again…

After two days sightseeing, we got ourselves ready to go to Odawara (I love this city a lot, this city looks like Nobita’s town he he he) for a school programme there.

Odawara railway station…

After 1 hour train trip from Tokyo and seeing the beauty paddy field along the way finally we arrived at Odawara railway station, we were welcomed by Keisuke Nakayama-san at the station, and straightly after that we’re picked by some taxis to go to the school (I was the facilitator at that time), the presentation was so awesome at that time! After so long time since the last AfL 3 we had our presentation again, introducing our countries, singing Hokimai , introducing quiet times to children, actually to be honest I was a bit hesitant to introduce quiet time to child in a very young age, but I choose to fully trust my Taiwanese friends, Hsiao-Yun and Han-Ting to conduct it, because I know that Taiwanese is so expert in doing this stuff, yeah finally they did it, and after I got a clearer picture how to conduct it, yeah this what I call learning by doing…he he he, once again thanks HY and HT

Are we going for sightseeing again or we’re having a prep meeting?

And after the presentation we got some privilege to have our lunch with the children at that school, lots of questions from the children came to me, but language barrier always did matter to communicate, during the meals I had to wait for Kiyoshi-san translation, their question was about my culture, religion the costume that I wore, and what kind of Japanese movie which broadcasted in my country (I answered: Crayon Shinchan), oh ya during this meal there was a name that took my attention a lot: I asked a child about his name, guess what his answer?, o nama ewa? I asked with my limited Japanese word, he replied proudly nama ewa Shunsuke Nakamura!, yes! I met with Nakamura he he he, the famous Japanese football player! I’m so impressed that Japanese people really proud of their football heroes…

And with a sigh voice I informed Mr.Nakayama-san, that it’s better to have our preparation meeting rather than going for sightseeing again to Odawara castle, because at that time that was the aspirations of the most of team, yes indeed, and with a humble voice Mr.Nakayama-san, said to me that it’s ok to do the preparation meeting, but he said we still should go to Shinto shrine after the preparation meeting because it was arranged beforehand.

The preparation meeting was over and everything for tomorrow’s presentation was fixed, then after we moved straightly to the Odawara Shinto shrine, in that Shinto shrine we learnt a lot about the traditional religion of Japanese people, what impressed from that session was, the priest of that shrine explained us that one of their ritual is by clapping hand, do you know behind that? He said that clapping hand means no arms in our hand, wow it’s interesting to know that fact.

Then after our visit to that shrine, we were picked up by our host families, I was a picked by a Japanese young lady, her name was Mrs. Aki Matsumoto, her husband was one of Nakayama-san’s colleagues, his name is Mr.Conrad Matsumoto, he is a Japanese American, and he has been teaching English in Japan for about 6 years. He is a very famous English teacher in Odawara, some children that we visited during our school presentation are taught by him. During my time with my host family in Odawara I got a privilege to attend my host family’s English class, and I saw mr.Conrad-san in action in his class, and I learnt a lot from that. Mr.Conrad and Mrs. Aki Matsumoto’s family was a bit different from other families in Japan, it was more kind of international family, but still with strong Japanese tradition within it.

(missed bicycle riding again!)

It was so short stay in Odawara…, I said a farewell to Mr. Conrad and Mrs. Aki Matsumoto after they presented to me a pair of shoes, wow it was a very nice present from them, because it’s been so long I wanted to get a new pair of shoes but I always keep postponing it, yeah it was a very nice but meanwhile I should said sayonara and see you again to them, what a nice family, having a home stay always brought me a new learning, about other’s people’s moccasins, it’s just like walk a mile in another man’s moccasin. After going to Hakone Yumoto Elementary School and a school after we should move back to Tokyo. A heaps of learning that I got during my time in Odawara, I became more confident either in leading, more humble in being leaded by others, step by step I was less inferior than it was in Action for Life 3, yeah Odawara really brought refreshed my spirit!

IofC Japan youth gathering and an evening with Ablet

Tokyo we’re back again!, finally we got back to Tokyo, to Chitose Funabashi, to Setagaya-ku again!

Back to Tokyo we got ready for our weekend’s programme with Japanese youth team. Then in the afternoon we welcome some Japanese IofC youth team, and at that time I was conducting the “expectation activity”(inspired from my friend Lusi), and it was full of fun, we got sense of togetherness in our differences.

Then in the evening I was picked by Abla Ablet, the Uyghur man that I met in the conference, I was invited by him to come to his apartment in Machida, we exchange stories about our culture and nation, Ablet is a Muslim, he’s from mainland China, but his ethnic group is Uyghur, a similar ethnic group with Turkmenistan, it was very touching to listen his story, especially his struggle for his ethnic group to get their right in their nation. Meeting with him enriched my view about the world especially the differences in muslim world itself, yeah this life, this world.

Being in 15 days in Japan it was a meaningful and unforgettable journey lots of a new learning, especially about how to be more aware of the punctuality of time, and how to be a good life organizer. Another new learning for me was overcoming my inferiority without being superior, or another word I learnt a lot (and again) to be a truly humble leaders. And this time I struggled a lots to bring a good image of the sacred “Red and White” for Japanese people and also bringing a good image of muslim, I’m struggling to be a good ambassador for Indonesian progressive Muslim. Thank you Japan! Arigato gozaimash ta Nippon! and shima uta’s song sounded on my ears

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