TOKYO – Catering to the rising number of Muslim tourists, suppliers and travel agents in Japan are obtaining halal certification and converting their restrooms into prayer rooms to break the record of 24 million arrivals received last year.
“There has been a noticeable increase in Muslim customers to the chain’s stores, so much so that the brand went to obtain the Halal certificate from the Islamic Center of Japan,” Tamrerk Nasomyont, spokesperson for The Originator of Teppanyaki Steak Misono, is quoted as saying by TTGAsia.com.
“Currently, the Halal menu is available only at the chain’s main branch in Kobe.”
Noboru Okuyama, owner of Gassan Pole Pole farm – a mountain lodge in Yamagata, shared a similar opinion.
According to Okuyama, Muslim groups have been on the rise since he started welcoming them three years ago.
Noboru Okuyama works closely with Khamisah Bte Salamat, X-Trekkers Adventure Consultant’s product planner, and Japan specialist. Together they’ve made his lodge a Muslim-friendly place.
“In the first year, there were five groups of around 10 pax. It’s been three years, and this year I have welcomed 20 groups of about 100 pax”, Okuyama said.
Okuyama has changed the plates and cooking utensils at his lodge, as well as ensures all the meat he obtains is Halal.
Recently, he also helped to convert a rest stop into a prayer room.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Islam began in Japan in the 1920s through the immigration of a few hundreds of Turkish Muslims from Russia following the Russian revolution.
In 1930, the number of Muslims in Japan reached about 1000 of different origins.
Another wave of migrants who boosted the Muslim population reached its peak in the 1980s, along with migrant workers from Iran, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
Japan today is home to a thriving Muslim community of about 120,000, among nearly 127 million in the world’s tenth most populated country.