Ease and hardship of being Muslim in Japan
As a Muslim family, I and my husband are very glad to be in such a country with big tolerance and welcome for any representatives of a specific religion.
There are no restrictions or unwelcome stares from the Japanese people when it comes to Islam. However, compared to most of the western countries, in Japan, there is a lack of elements that are significant to Muslims to some degree, such as "Halal" food products.
So, in this article, I'd like to share my experience of dealing with everyday needs while preserving commitment to my religion.
If you ever been to some countries, you may have noticed many restaurants with such sign (shown below).
The term halal is particularly associated with Islamic dietary laws and especially meat processed and prepared in accordance with those requirements.
Mainly, any food containing pork meat or fat, and any food, drink or sauce having alcohol in it are also prohibited in Islam. This "halal" sign can be found in restaurants of Tokyo, but very rarely, otherwise asking the waiters about their food or checking the menu always is a case before entering.
As a general rule, chicken and beef must be only halal or at least be imported from countries like Australia or USA, where animals are slaughtered and handled in accordance with the approach of the People of the Book (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).
Some restaurants may have a separate menu for halal dishes, others may have everything being served in a halal way.
In our own experience, we've met several Muslim waiters, who were so nice to make sure that the food we are ordering is totally halal. Since some restaurant chefs' may cook chicken or beef dishes, but fry it in the same pan where pork was being cooked, it may raise some issue for Muslims.
My observation is that an awareness of the halal concept is improving year by year in Japan, to bring a more comfortable environment for both the Muslim community residing in Japan and for tourists.
The best website showing Muslim friendly places is Muslim Guide
Supermarkets and food supply
There are many specialty stores in Tokyo that sell specifically halal products and imported goods that belong to Muslim countries such as spices, sauces and etc. We usually buy a big amount of meat brought there from Australia and other products we can't find in the nearby supermarkets, and it is pretty affordable and convenient.
As for ordinary stores, we always make sure from the compound of the product to not to have 豚肉 (pork), アルコール (alcohol) or 日本酒 (sake) words. Some soya sauces may have mirin (rice vinegar) or desserts may have gelatine made of pork fat, so that's also another concern we may have.
For information about halal stores, here is the link of ones you may find in Tokyo: https://www.havehalalwilltravel.com/halal-convenience-stores-marts-tokyo
Mosque/ Praying places
In Tokyo alone, there are 2 main mosques that are beautifully designed and have 2 floors of prayer spaces for men and women.
Alongside, you can visit cultural centres offering some Arabic lessons and Quran readings. Beside mosques, it was great to discover that so many shopping malls and different facilities offer prayer rooms, which can be found with a sign below in the picture.
To see, which places have them, you can check the same link that was shown in Muslim Guide
Moreover, it's worth considering halal hotels when travelling to the other cities, as you will be confident about being served with Muslim friendly breakfast/lunch/dinner and offered services that don't violate the law of the religion.
As residents of Jasso Residence Hall in Tokyo, we find many other Muslim residents living there. Having such a community makes it much easier to be guided regarding very simple needs.
For example, finding a haircut salon that has no men, so that a Muslim woman wearing hijab could not be revealed or any other massage or spa services that don't have men presence.
Also, such communities unite families in religious events and celebrations. Another way to find people sharing the same interests is through Facebook groups such as Muslim Friendly Information in Japan where you always may ask questions concerning you or share your own experiences/discoveries.
The best thing about Japan concerning Islam, in my opinion, is that the culture of clothing and outfits somehow coincides with the fashion of Islam. So, we usually may encounter the clothing stores and the majority of people's dresses to be modest and conservative, which is the case for Islamic ruling for outfits.
Overall, if a Muslim family like us desires to stay in Japan, there are always ways to maintain their beliefs, considering all that is being offered by the government and citizens. Likewise, I genuinely believe that the growing population of Islam followers, who come here as a tourist or as a resident, will promote more and better environment for Muslims in the future ~InshaAllah~ (By the will of God).
I am from beautiful country called Kazakhstan I am married and we have an adorable child who was born in Japan, Tokyo My specialty is Tourism Management, that is why I love to share all my experiences of cultures and traveling destinations,and I’m happy to share with my current experience in Japan
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