A Story about Japan in Jakarta’s Little Tokyo

Hello All,

I’m actually very excited to write a story again after sooo looonggg…
This week has been a tough week for Ayu and her family.
If you read her post before, you’ll be sure know what’s she up to.
One of her tears from yesterday was that she got rejected for a scholarship that she wants it so much due to her passport and visa take too long to process.
While her head was spinning, she had to greet an important guest representing one of Japan Ministry.
Even this cookie gift from Japan couldn’t save her day too much.

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Apparently, more unfortunate news kept coming for her earlier today as well. To cheer her up, and to keep her going, I have a story that mayyybeee pump her up. Because her dream is my and Aya’s wish. It’s a reminder for her, and for others who have a similar dream like her, that people are wonderful if we let them share their story.

This one is called…

 

Japan in Jakarta’s Little Tokyo

An area called Blok M in Southern part of Jakarta, was once a busy shopping area in the capital city. People could find almost eveything especially products from China, Korea and Japan. Of course the market of local people also could be found there. When we were kids, around 10 years ago, the area was always traffic during the weekend. People would packed the shops and shopping centres to buy stuff for the whole family, yes including ours. But now, the famous department store and shopping centres are dying, they’ve been lagging behind from the gigantic shopping malls that keep appearing in Jakarta. One of a few district in the area that still famous especially during the night is called ‘Little Tokyo’. A district just behind Blok M Square is full of Japanese restaurants, karaoke bars, shops, salon and supermarket.

The very first time we went there was last year May. There was a matsuri, Japanese festival, called Ennichisai. The festival has been holding for years as a gratitude from Japanese community to the people of Jakarta that they could build their life in the city. Actually, we went there because we saw the event on the social media. When we were there, we met our Japanese friends already on the matsuri mood with their full set of yukata.

The whole festival was a total blast! It was expected from Japanese matsuri, they had it full package. From traditional mikoshi, anime cosplay, games booth and of course, Japanese festival food. The district was crowded with people (and yes, otaku no minna san~~are there). I remember it was a blazing hot day, but everyone was cheerful and active.

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On the side of the crowd, we had small chats with some Japanese people, the booth sellers also the visitors. A grandpa told us that he would travel to Jakarta from Osaka whenever the festival holds once a year. He used to live in Jakarta for 8 years and during those years he got great support from the local people. We also met Sayaka san, an environmentalist and researcher who had been to many regions in the country. She told us how the local people that she met motivated her to follow her dream which was encouraging people to preserve the nature the it would be vice versa. Overall, it was a fun day. It was a pity that we couldn’t see hanabi show.

Around one month after the festival, we went back there to try some Japanese authentic food. It was difficult to choose, but in the end we decided to try a restaurant called yumeya. The restaurant specialize on yakiniku, but we were a bit full so we tried other menu. It was a pleasant place and of course the food was superb! We tried the yellowtail, shrimp, and squid. We sat on the chef bar because we wanted to see how they prepared the food. I couldn’t hold my temptation to chat with the chefs.

One chef was Indonesian (and the whole time I thought he was Japanese..). He shared amazing story of his journey to learn Japanese cuisine. He was quite happy when we sat on the bar, because then he could talked in bahasa. He first worked on the other japanese restaurant as a dishwasher. Then he slowly learned the way the chefs had prepared the food and cooked it, and arranged it beautifully. As he became interested in Japanese food, one senior chef recognized that he might had a chance to be a chef. Under the senior chef command, he began his journey and even he was brought to Japan when the senior chef asked to be the main chef. After several years, he dedicated his career in Jakarta. And someday he could open an authentic Japanese restaurant in the place like little tokyo. We enjoyed our time so much, we didn’t even take a single photo. But among other good things, the chef’s story was amazing.

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It’s the best place to feel Japanese culture whe ln you are in Jakarta. We have been there several times for different occassions. Each time there would be new story to discover. Especially with our Japanese friends. It becomes easier to learn the culture. But it doesn’t matter with who, when we are in Little Tokyo we could find not only great food but also amazing stories. We could find the kindness and the passionate athmosphere from the people. Being in ‘Little Tokyo’ might be one step further to the ‘Real Tokyo’.

Be full of love,

Chiyo