'I miss pork broth ramen': 2 Japanese women share their challenges of being Muslim converts in Singapore

'I miss pork broth ramen': 2 Japanese women share their challenges of being Muslim converts in Singapore
PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/nOm

Assimilating a culture is never a linear progression - challenges are always aplenty.

In a YouTube video shared on April 29, two Japanese women Yamada Misato and Nakahara Akane shared some of the challenges they have faced as a Muslim convert in Singapore. 

They told chef Kenneth Yong that for a start, they have had to be more mindful with their food choices.

Nakahara, who has been a Muslim convert for eight years and has lived in Singapore for 22 years, said: "I used to drink or eat non-halal food with my colleagues and friends. So it was difficult for me to adapt."

"Yeah, I miss tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen a bit," Yamada quipped, while adding that it's "not a big issue".


Nakahara and Yamada are members of Sakura Club, a Japanese-Muslim community in Singapore. They agreed that being in a group with other converts has helped them in their journey to embrace Islam.

"We share information there. For example, there's a new halal Japanese restaurant or this product is now halal-certified," Nakahara said.

In the 11-minute video, Yamada shared how she had to "convince" her parents to accept her relationship with her Muslim husband.

The Tokyo native recalled: "Before we visited Japan, my parents were very worried. [I told them] 'mum, dad, I have a boyfriend, he's a Muslim'.

"[They replied] 'so you mean you must convert?'

"Then they met up with him [and thought] 'oh, nice guy'."


Despite being a Japanese-Muslim convert, Nakahara and Yamada shared that their identities are not as "complicated" as they seem to be.

Yamada said: "For me, my identity is not so complicated… Even if I convert, I am Japanese. That will never change.

"For culture, I follow the Malay side. But I also try to never forget the seasonal festivals in Japan."

For Nakahara, she tries to help her son on the challenge of identifying as a Japanese Muslim.

She shared: "I teach him Japanese. He also takes Malay as his mother tongue. We also learn the Arabic language.

"Before my son eats, [he'd say] itadakimasu ("let's eat" in Japanese), and bismillah-ir-rahman-ir-rahim (an Islamic prayer before eating). I don't want him to forget about the Japanese culture.

"Our kids' generation has more struggles, is more complicated. [Unlike them] we've already grown up as Japanese," Yamada quipped.


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