International Marriage （Final）
Kindness of the Japanese
Met husband’s parents for the first time was a very nervous moment, I was worried as I didn’t have any confidence at my Japanese, could I understand their Japanese, and would they accept me who is a Muslim.
Husband and I went to Tokyo station to pick them up. The first word from my mother-in-law is “How do you do?” and I was “eh?”, then answered “hajimemashite” (in Japanese). Receiving greetings in Japanese, mother-in-law surprised and said “Oh! You can speak Japanese!” happily and gave me a hug. There I figured out that once she heard that their daughter-in-law is a foreigner, she bought “English conversation” book and studied English hardly while in Shinkansen (bullet train).
Same as me, father-in-law seems worried that will I understand what he said, so he spoke to me in Japanese very slowly. Even knowing their daughter-in-law is a Muslim which was out of common in Japan, my parents-in-law have no discomfort at all, on the contrary they’re welcoming me warmly. Nervousness I felt before was disappeared and I felt comfort around them.
I’m also very thankful that they are looking for restaurant with food I can eat when all of us are dining out.
Husband who was a baby Muslim also has his own story. His colleagues and friends are fully support him once knowing he is now a Muslim. Husband who doesn’t drink alcohol at the first place, continue to choose to drink Cola if having nomikai (party after work where it is common to drink alcohol there) with his colleagues and friends. If they are dining out, his colleagues and friends choose restaurant who has no pork and they eat there together.
Ramadhan 2016 is his first time to fasting. It might be quite difficult for the first timer to do fasting in whole day. But by Allah’s blessings, husband did it! While Ramadhan, even his colleagues go out for lunch, they refrain to eat or drink in front of husband and support husband by saying “ganbare!” or literally means “you can do it!”. When husband has iftal (break the fast) in office, his colleagues praise him kindly, “wow! you made it!”.
Hijab and Me
A woman with hijab was rarely being seen in Japan. In winter, hijab can help to warm our body up, however, in summer, I often find people surrounding stare at me with how-can-she-wrap-her-head-in-this-hot-summer look. But when I was shopping in a supermarket, I was spoken to by a kind Japanese grandmother who praised my hijab “what a beautiful scarf it is!”.
It was the first time for me after came to Japan to be spoken to by the one I don’t know, but I felt happy at the same time. She was fascinated and interested about how to wear the hijab. She shared me some strength, “it is maybe tough to live in a country with different culture, but you will make it!” nicely and kindly. Her nice word keep remains in my heart.
Wide Scope of “Family” in Indonesia and Wedding Reception
Whether in Japan or in Indonesia, relatives and friends are being invited to bride and groom’s wedding reception. In Japanese wedding reception, bride and groom express their gratitude to both parents and the atmosphere of blessing spread in. According to husband, most of wedding reception in Japan only invite the closest one, around 100 people at the most, but in our wedding reception in Indonesia, it was about 3000 guests that made husband surprised!
Different with Japan, in Indonesia, especially in the town where I lived, “family” has wide scope. Of course, due to many brothers and sisters in my family, I have many of cousins, aunties, and uncles which is so-called “family”. However, even quite distant relatives or someone who is nice to each other for a long time is being treated or called as “family” or “relatives”, while on the other hand in Japan, “family” or “relatives” has smaller scope and only refer to closest one. That’s why in our wedding reception, there were some people that I had never seen before who told us “Hi! I’m one of your relative” that makes me made an awkward face. Husband who recognized it asked “your relatives?”, I said “I don’t know, maybe my relative’s relative”, and husband surprised “Ehh?? It must be too-far-away-relatives”.
Both of us has different culture since we were born. However, it becomes our treasure that teach us to see everything in many values and in various point of view. On the other hand, getting married to someone from different culture with ours and live in other country made both of us realized the importance to accept differences. If we couldn’t get used to, our surroundings also difficult to accept us which will just make our partner worry if we could survive in the country or not.
Japan-Indonesia International Marriage from part 1 until part 6 are based from our real experiences, so maybe there are some different points with yours.
I hope you are having fun reading these articles.
At the end, I’m very glad I came to a-becoming-more-muslim-friendly-country, Japan!