Ask Cendikia Luthfita what she recalls about Ramadan back home in Indonesia and she’s quick to talk about the sounds: the shuffle of a crowd making its way to the mosque at dawn, calls to prayer over neighborhood speakers, the din of street vendors selling meals at sundown so people can break their fasts.
This year will mark the sixth time the 28-year-old doctoral student is celebrating the Islamic holy month in Japan, though here most holiday nights are spent with store-bought meals in her quiet apartment. Among the challenges that come with moving to a new country, a feeling of isolation during Ramadan is one Cendikia didn’t see coming.
“In Indonesia, you can really feel the atmosphere of Ramadan,” she says. “You can feel the whole neighborhood becoming more religious and high-spirited. It’s very different in Japan, it feels like any other day.”