While wrapping up my second year in Tokyo, I would totally, definitely, absolutely recommend you to put Japan on top of your bucket list. Not only you will eat at a conveyor belt sushi place, try the square watermelon, experience the famous shower toilet (deserves a separate item on your bucket list) and take a ride on the Shinkansen bullet train, but you will also be amazed at how culturally different human beings can possibly be. Well, after a second thought, yes, you should come to Japan but you might not want to spend Ramadan in the country of the rising sun.
With a little more than 13 million people living in the most populated city in the world, the chance of meeting a Muslim in Tokyo is around 0.0007%. If you are a person who participates in fasting during Ramadan and associate this with family gatherings, Athan sounds, greetings from here and there and special desserts, you would better have a backup plan on how to awake your inner Ramadan spirit.
As beautiful as it is, Ramadan always has some challenges depending on where you spend it. For instance, if you spend Ramadan in the Middle East, you are tempted to eat more food, watch more T.V, and say warm goodbyes to productivity. In Tokyo, the pace of life is super fast so if you have a full time job or you are a full time student, your typical day would basically be waking up at 7 am, commute (probably getting squeezed in Japanese trains), work, eat, work, work, work , commute again, arrive home, sleep and repeat. So you end up at home around 8 or 9 pm, exhausted and just dreaming of a warm shower and your bed. As sweet as it is usually Maghreb before you know it, it gets very challenging to manage your time for some extra things or praying during the month of Ramadan.
However, Ramadan in Tokyo can also be a life changing experience for two special reasons. Firstly, if we look at foreign countries with relatively larger Muslim population, we would sometimes find some segregation by nationality or language. However in Tokyo, there are only two or three big masjids. So you will have the richest, most diverse and interesting chats by just walking around. Secondly, your chances of being the first Muslim to introduce Ramadan and fasting in Islam to the majority of the Japanese people you meet are extremely high. It’s a big responsibility and a great honor too.
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