Rising Sun of a Muslim Friendly Japan
It’s a peaceful mundane Saturday afternoon in Japan but not for the Japanese Muslims. It’s first Ramadan, the beginning of a holy month, where this minority in Japan observes fast from dawn to dusk. It is both surprising yet thoughtful of Japanese authorities to take steps to make this minority feel at home. According to local Muslims in Japan some university cafeterias, restaurants and hotels now offer halal meat and menu. Many restaurants offer halal zabeeha meat and the food is also alcohol free.
Haneda International Airport, Tokyo recently had an upgrade. The authorities introduced Halal souvenir shops where Halal chocolates and other sweet treats are available for tourist to take home as gifts. Not only this there are prayer rooms in the many passengers lounges of this international airport where one can easily reach out to God. Only last month a new food chain ‘Pista’ was launched on Haneda international, although a small step but the first of many to come.
Also Read: How to convince Japanese people about Islam
When relations with China took a wrong turn, Japan loosened the other end and eased restrictions on visa for Southeast Asian nations. This smart step was aimed at offsetting the lost business and economic activity from China. Other major steps included making Japan tourist friendly with the creation of better roads, better means of transport and making reforms so to accommodate people from every religions and cultural background. Muslims are a growing population internationally. Japan took account of this too and made Islamic centers and introduced halal restaurants. All these reforms boosted Japanese tourism and there was a big inflow of tourists from Malaysia and Indonesia.
The number of Muslims in Japan has exceeded the 100,000 mark. People’s thinking is changing. According to the executive director of an Islamic centre in Japan which was opened in 1963, the number of people who came to offer prayers has increased by the passing years as more and more people convert or migrate to Japan from around the world. Every day the mosques are full with worshippers as well as tourists who come to see the religious place of worship. The crowd is even more in days of Ramadan, when people come with treats made at home to share with other Muslim brothers and break their fast. It is like grand pot luck. There are no Sunni or Shia sects here in Japanese mosques, once Muslims are under one roof they are one sect and there is no division or difference in practices.
In fact, if you visit Kyoto on Friday (holy day for Muslims when they offer afternoon prayers in congregation) after Duhr prayers, you will find the streets with mosques, flooded with Muslims. How to recognize them? The men’s heads are covered with a cap usually white in color whereas the women cover their heads with hijab. The streets nearby a mosque usually offer halal menus and Muslims love to taste traditional food and socialize with other fellow Muslims, after the Friday prayers. It looks like a mini festival and according to many Muslims, reminds them of their home countries.