The area below the northern slope of Japan’s famed Mount Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture currently witnesses increasing efforts to create a more welcoming environment for Muslim tourists whose numbers are mounting, Straits Times reported on March 24.
“This prayer room will help increase the satisfaction level of Muslim visitors. The tourists can use the room freely during the park’s opening hours,” said an official of Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park in Fujiyoshida.
The new Muslim prayer room measuring about 16m2 opened on February 4.
It was built by renovating a part of a first-aid room and was equipped with a marker that indicates the direction of the Qiblah and a place for ablution.
Fujiyoshida lies at the base of Mount Fuji. The Fujisan World Heritage Center, an information center for travelers heading to Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes, is also located in Yamanashi prefecture.
The Fujiten Snow Resort in Narusawa also opened a prayer space last year. Efforts are underway to offer hospitality to Muslim tourists in terms of food options.
Moreover, a restaurant in Oshino Shinobi no Sato, a tourist facility featuring ninja in Oshino, acquired a halal certification on February 15 that’s issued to facilities and products conforming to Islamic Shari’ah law.
For Tokyo 2020
Sylvans, a microbrewery restaurant in Fujikawaguchiko, began offering a ‘Muslim Welcome BBQ’ in October last year. The restaurant added a barbecue dish using halal certified meat to its menu.
“Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we’re receiving more and more inquiries about halal food. We’d like to continue making efforts to increase the satisfaction level of all tourists and make the entire area grow as an international tourism site,” informed Harunobu Kayanuma, a general manager of Sylvans.
Behind this expanding number of Muslim visitors lies a surge in the number of tourists from the Muslim countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. The Japanese officials expect their numbers to increase in the next year as well.
According to Yamanashi prefectural government, 47,990 Indonesians and 42,680 Malaysians stayed overnight in the prefecture in 2018, up 18% and 55.5%, respectively, from the previous year.
The history of Islam in Japan is relatively brief in relation to the religion’s longstanding presence in other nearby countries. There were isolated occasions of Muslims in Japan before the 19th century.
Today, Muslims are made up of largely immigrant communities, as well as smaller ethnic Japanese community. The Pew Research Center estimated that there were 185,000 Muslims in Japan in 2010.
Japan is a new but sharply growing halal market as the country’s producers are seeking fresh opportunity in the halal sector and striving to seek new local and international markets, especially now that Japan is the officially designated venue for the 2020 Olympics, attracting Muslim athletes and tourists from all around the world.
Catering to the rising number of Muslim tourists, suppliers and travel agents in Japan have been obtaining halal certification and converting their restrooms into prayer rooms.