Just came back a week ago, and my stuffs haven't arrived yet from Japan. Huhu!
I want to share this email that I received last month from Adam (bukan nama sebenar..hihi) who will be undergoing his Industrial Training in Kanagawa soon. He wanted to know some know-how for Muslim working in Japan, hopefully it can benefit you too!
On Saturday, March 14, 2015, fatimah shamsuddin <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hello Adam. Sorry for my late reply, I was quite busy coz I'm going back to Malaysia soon.I was so surprised but honoured to receive your email.I will try to answer your questions as per my experience though it might not be suitable with your situation. As you know, I lived in Kyoto so I am not familiar with Kanagawa area. But if you look at Japan map, Kanagawa is very near to Tokyo.^b^So here it goes!1. When I googled Kanagawa, it stated that it is the main manufacturer of pork - should I be bothered with it?Err..I don't think you should worry too much...Maybe in Kanagawa, they have variety of pork menu compared to other places, but that's all. My advise is:- When you want to buy food at the supermarket or 7-E (konbini), etc, make sure to check the label carefully. If there is kanji like 豚 (ぶた）, ラード (lard), ショートニング (shortening), just don't buy it.- If you are eating outside, ask the cook first..."Sumimasen, syuukyou no tame ni, o'niku, doubutsu abura, aruko-ru, o'nuki dekimasu ka?" (Because of religious reason, can you not add any meat, animal oil and alcohol?) If they say yes, then just read bismillah and makan..:D. The rest is tawakkal.2. I am still able to have halal food, right? (I might get a personal room during my internship, so I might be able to cook my own meal)Of course! I'm sure there'll be 1 or 2 halal groceries shop where you can buy frozen halal meat, etc. But if you can't find any, you can buy online from www.baticrom.com. Their office is in Tokyo. You can order from their website and they will deliver to your house in 1-2 days! My advise is, as soon as you settle down in Kanagawa, try to locate the nearest Muslim centre, masjid or muslim community as soon as possible. That will help you to adapt fast!
3. Is Japanese employees ok about us having to perform prayers while working? How do you usually perform solat during work? Can we perform jama' & qasar?Did you informed your employer about the things that you need when you apply for the internship? Like solat, muslim friendly food, culture, etc..If you haven't, please do so before you come to Japan! Before I came to Japan, I made a list of things that I will need, the do and don't as a Muslim, etc..So I never faced much problem at work. My lunch time is from 12pm-12.45pm. I normally eat until 12.30, and the balance 15min I will do my Zuhur prayer. My boss let me use the filing room to do my prayer. My advise is, set a fix time for your Zuhur prayer everyday (jgn tukar2..) so that your collegue will also be aware of it. We must show good example and we can't be as "suka hati" as in Malaysia where people can go for prayer time as they like. Then you can do your Asar after working hours. About jama' & qasar, I don't do it on a normal days, only when I'm on a long journey business trip/travelling. Sometimes, I also faced problems such as stuck in long meeting, couldn't find proper place for solat when I'm on the go, etc, etc..in this case I will do jamak, but not qasar bcoz it's not related to the distance (~90km). Sorry I can't explain much about this..it is better you read the explanation from an ustaz..like Dr. Maza, UAI, etc.Have you heard about nomikai (飲み会）or drinking party?? In Japan, it is common for co-workers to go for drinkign alcohol after work. If you are going to one, tell them you can only drink non-alcoholic drink. Orenji jyusu kudasai! :D. I go to nomikai all the time because it is the nature of my work. At first, I hesitated to but a friend advises me during the nomikai, try to 'selit' about Islamic values. Example, why Islam forbid us to drink alcohol and eat pork, why Muslim have to pray 5 times a day, and any other things..Japanese people are really interested to know about Islam! So this is the chance for you to explain to them. :D4. My Japanese proficiency is weak (N5 passed, N4 failed), do I need to work on my Japanese language? Can I survive in the work environment with that level of proficiency? (Please be honest, so that I could prepare myself early! T^T)I will be honest with you. There is a HUGE difference between laymen Japanese and bussinese Japanese (sonkeigo). I have only JLPT level N3, and it is NOT enough for me to survive in my line of work. I work in the Purchasing Department, so we deal with Japanese suppliers in JAPANESE. (-_-). I would have packed my bag and balik kampung long time ago if I don't have the google translater with me 24-7. Huhuhu.BUT! It depends on the nature of your job as well. Some of my friends don't even have JLPT, but they can managed bcoz they uses mainly English than Japanese (system engineer, overseas sales, etc). If you are in enginering, please try to learn the common terms, machinery terms, parts and material name in Japanese. I keep a small note book to jot down when ever I don't understand a Japanese word. It helps me to memorize faster.Last but not least, if you face any difficulty in Japan later, don't be shy and ask for help! You cannot survive being a loner..(though I like travelling alone..hihi.) And do enjoy Japan as well..It is a very beautiful & systematic country, there's alot of things we can learn from them.I wish you all the best!! 頑張ってください！~Kak Tim~