Dong Kinh (Nhat)

Reunited for the first time in almost 6 months, alhamdullilah! Tokyo the logical halfway meeting place this year. Aishah’s birthday dinner postponed by a day awaiting Zayd’s arrival from DC after his last term exams.

Wet day, but still time for a Sunday afternoon at Yoyogi Park, Meiji shrine, a stroll in Harajuku, a vegetarian kasekei dinner at Daigo, and a late night mini book fest at the superb bookstore for insomniacs at Daikanyama Tsutaya that only Tokyo can do. (Erasing already what happened after that of a certain football game 9 hours away in North London 😭😱😭). Nah, still a perfect day in Tokyo, reunited. Happy birthday Aishah and much congrats to Mama who finally completed Aishah’s birthday present of a cat cross stitch (after 2 years!). ❤️🙏♥️ Alhamdullilah


23 December 2019

Jigokudani Yaen-koen

Boxing Day with the Snow Monkeys of Nagano. Northern most primates, the only ones known to enjoy the great Japanese pastime of the onsen hot bath! Even in this pristine corner of Japan, at the foothills of the Japanese Alps, climate change is never too far away. It was snow monkeys sans snow today, our guide tells us it’s getting warmer every year.

Little bit of the customary fighting breaks out when alpha male jumps into the pool, but otherwise even the monkeys here seem almost polite. They don’t hassle the visitors and the visitors in turn follow all the rules (no touching, no feeding, carry your own litter). Monkey see, monkey follow : No monkey business, this is Japan! 🎄🐒🏔️


26 December 2019

Matsumoto, Nagano

Day 7 of the family Japan reunion holiday and day 3 in the countryside. Started the day in Nagano after two nights there, and ended at the Unesco heritage status traditional village of Shirakawa-go, a 3.5 hour road journey of 125km through beautiful mountain landscape. Crossing the heart of the Japanese Alps, from the Nagano to the Gifu prefectures. 29 out of the 30 highest peaks are here (curiously, Mt Fuji, the highest,being the great exception). Apart from the entry point for the snow monkeys, Nagano is famous for the 7th Century Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s most sacred, and where the first Buddha statue was apparently brought into Japan, to thereafter coexist with the earlier Shinto idols. Coincidentally, our simple two star Matsuya Ryokan is a historical site in itself, where the first Buddha statue was kept, secretly at first, for some 300 years.

A stopover at Matsumoto to visit its 16th century castle, Japan’s oldest wooden castle, from a time when Shoguns ruled and Samurais and civil war among competing warlords would intermittently break out. The mountain road from Matsumoto to Shirakawa-go was blanketed with fresh powder snow, just as well that we had snow tires on the rented Toyota. Looks like am nearing retirement from family driving duties, Sakinah assisted by Zayd drove most of the way!

Alhamdullilah, a world away from the buzz and bustle of Tokyo, a chance for a few days in the countryside. As we continue to absorb Japan with its contrasts and many rhythms and nuances, one thought that is emerging is how Japan and the Japanese somehow manage to achieve balance and fusion quite effortlessly; between old and new, tech and tradition, nature and commerce, city and country, and indeed, between the warriors and the scholars. Admirable. 🎎🌨️🏯 #zikirpikir


27 December 2019

Mount Fuji (富士山)


Finally, visited Mt Fuji in person today. Must be maybe my 15th trip to Japan and never had the time to visit. We were lucky that it was a perfect, crisp December day for viewing, as Fuji-san came out in its full glory. A full day of views, “forest bathing” at waterfalls, dragons cave, ancient lava formation mingling with snow, 800 year old trees, and shrines from the 8th century eruption.

Alhamdullilah, fortunate to have witnessed some of the most famous mountains over the years; Everest and the Himalayas, Kilimanjaro, the Alps, Tibet, New Zealand Alps, the American and Canadian Rockies, Kinabalu, Agung, among others, but somehow its Fuji-san – not particularly tall at 3,776 metres – that seems to have such an outsized significance on the history and culture of a people.Perhaps its majesty is further accentuated by its contrast away from a tall range of mountains in the same way that the Taj Mahal stands out because there are no competing buildings around it and the Yamuna and the blue sky is perfectly positioned to caption its glory. Context and framing counts for a lot.

In awe and as posted when in front of the Annapurnas in Nepal in October 2018, was reminded again of the verse in the Holy Quran in Al-Ahzab 33:72 …”We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains; but they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof: but man undertook it;- He was indeed unjust and foolish.” Goodness: we are the crazy ones! 🗻⛩️🕋 #zikirpikir 


29 December 2019

Tokyo, Japan


Happy New Year, Happy New Decade from all of us. Alhamdullilah, its been quite a ride and syukur, how fast the kids grow! Signing off from a wonderful 12 days with the family in Japan.

The last few days were spent back in Tokyo starting with taking the historic Fujikyo red train from Fuji to Otsuki to Shinjuku in downtown Tokyo. Unfortunately Fuji-san was under a cloud but typical Japanese service that ladies in smart uniforms come to show photos of Mt Fuji to soften the disappointment somewhat! Only in Japan! The one hour journey also crossed the upcoming Tokyo to Nagoya Linear Train line, the NextGen Shinkansen that will set a new world train speed record at more than 650 km/hr and cut Tokyo/Nagoya time from 1hr 40 mins to just 40 minutes. 2027 delivery. Something to look forward to in the next decade.

Alhamdullilah, leaving Japan energized, so beautiful to be with the whole family even if for just 12 days. Tasnim en route to Nagoya to stay with her foster family, then Seoul and then London then NYC. Zayd to Vancouver then DC. Ina and Aishah back at work esok in KL.

12 days, 12 fleeting thoughts on Japan 🇯🇵…
1/ Super hospitality and service standards. Amazing RWC 2019, expect more at Olympics 2020. 2/ So clean. So safe. Amazing toilet tech! BYO litter. 3/ Consideration for others. Fukuyama tragedy: no hoarding of essential items. 4/ Attention to detail. See how the packaging is done and how packets open. A real pleasure 5/ Galapagos syndrome: Polite … to a fault. A Japanese is truly your friend only when they start “insulting” you. Suppressed emotions. 6/ Weird wonderful humor – see game shows, adverts 😂 7/ Love the retail. Muji, Tsutya, Tokyu Hands etc. 8/ In admiration of their honor code, Giri. And concepts like Ikigai. 9/ Less is more. Zen, Minimalism, Marie Kondo. 10/ Effortless balance: old/new, tech/tradition, warrior/artist-scholar. 11/ Aging gracefully. Individually, collectively. 12/ So much Islam, so few Muslims!

May the next decade be a wonderful roaring 20s InsyaAllah. 🙏🕋🗾🎉❤️ #kretapikir #zikirpikir 


2 January 2020