You can find restaurants certified by KMA, and prayer-friendly accommodations, in four languages commonly spoken by Muslims. Tips on how to find Muslim-friendly informations in Kyoto are also available!
In order to offer useful and convenient information for Muslim tourists, Kyoto City has launched a new website called “Muslim Friendly Kyoto” (http://www.kyoto.travel/muslim), under supervision of the Kyoto Muslim Association (KMA).
This newly-designed website provides useful information and specific tips on how to find Muslim-friendly locations in Kyoto, including restaurants that have been certified Halal by the KMA.
This coordinative effort between KMA and Kyoto City is the first example of such a measure being taken in Japan. Shuhei Akahoshi, Managing Director of Tourism Promotion said:
“In the past there has not been sufficient information available about Kyoto in Islamic countries, especially in the manner of tips for having an enjoyable time here as a tourist. It is my earnest wish to help Muslim tourists to learn more about Kyoto and attract them to our wonderful city.”
KMA was established in 1987, and since then we have been actively engaged in promoting the understanding of Islam as a universal religion and world civilization, and in developing friendship between Muslim countries and Japan. We operate Kyoto Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center, and perform the Juma and Eid prayers in addition to the 5-daily prayers. You are most welcome to visit our Mosque.
KMA has been keen to provide halal food for its members, and to inform Japanese citizens about Islamic teachings and dietary rules based on Sharia. Every year during Ramadan we hold an important event called the Islamic World Festival and Iftar Party, when we invite Kyoto citizens to enjoy the various cuisines of Muslim countries. Around one thousand people, Muslims and non-Muslims, participate in this annual event, and it is regarded as the largest international friendship gathering of its kind in Japan.
Mr. Akahoshi also added,”We have in Kyoto a variety of Japanese foods including but not limited to tempura, traditional Kyo-Kaiseki, Shojin-ryori, and tofu that we can recommend to Muslim guests, and Turkish and Indian cuisines are also available. This website offers a quick reference for these foods and explains what they are.”
Apart from displaying information on cuisines and restaurants in Kyoto suitable for Muslims, this website also includes a list of Muslim-friendly accommodations, and qiblah direction. The website is available in English, Arabic, Turkish and Malay. Qibla (Direction of the Sacred Kaaba in Makkah) in Kyoto: 69 degrees from true north (geodetic north) anticlockwise. It is WNW.
Masjid Kyoto / Kyoto Mosque is located near the Imperial Palace. They have provided a printed version of this map to hotels cited in Muslim Friendly Kyoto website. Please ask the concierge at your hotel for one. On the printed map, there are detailed instructions for getting to our mosque.
The website also provides information about hotels and restaurants that offer halal food and other Muslim-welcome services. Kyoto Muslim Association (KMA) and Kyoto Council for Sharia and Halal Affairs supervise these hotels and restaurants as well as this website to ensure the required Sharia standards are maintained. The listing contains all the contact details and is highlighted in different colours to give you an idea of what you expect there, such as halal, Muslim friendly, Muslim welcome and pork-free.
Airports in Japan striving to become friendlier to Muslims
TOKYO — International airports in Japan are striving to become friendlier to Muslims amid a steep increase in visitors from the Islamic world following the Japanese government’s relaxation of regulations for issuing visas.
An increase in private prayer rooms for Muslims, who pray five times a day, and availability of meals in compliance with Islamic rules are among efforts taken by airports.
Airport officials stress that they will show the heart of Japanese hospitality at the thresholds into Japan as Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
On Dec. 1, Narita Airport in Chiba Prefecture put up a new sign saying “Prayer Room” for Muslims in front of private rooms in its first and second terminals. Each room is covered with a carpet and a direction panel on the ceiling so that Muslims can readily fall to their knees and pray in the direction of their holy place Mecca.
The rooms, called Silence Rooms, could be used for prayer in the past but had no Prayer Room sign.
In the past, there were Muslims who performed prayers on the terminal building floor after arriving at Narita as they did not know of the existence of the private rooms, according to a 35-year-old member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Japan, an association of Muslims in Japan.
Japan relaxed the rules for issuance to visas to visitors from Indonesia, Malaysia and three other Southeast Asian nations in July. Muslims account for an estimated 90% of Indonesia’s 240 million population and 60% of Malaysia’s 29 million.
A total of 28,000 people visited Japan from Indonesia and Malaysia in October, up 40% from a year earlier.
A public relations official at Narita Airport said the operator of the airport near Tokyo should have done more to publicize the presence of prayer rooms for Muslims and make facilities there friendlier to them.
“We will seek to create a user-friendly airport for Muslims and other people who will visit Japan for the Olympic Games,” the official added.
The company has already started taking necessary steps. For example, it will install by January washing equipment in the prayer rooms for Muslims to purify themselves before performing prayers. By next summer, furthermore, two prayer rooms will be built in the area where passengers walk through after embarkation procedures.
Kansai Airport, which created a prayer room in 2006, announced a plan in August to open two more rooms by next spring.
The airport in Osaka has also started joint efforts with tenants in its passenger terminal building to better receive visitors from the Islamic world. Starting this summer, a noodle shop and another restaurant began serving meals prepared in compliance with Islamic cooking rules, called Halal, which include a ban on the use of pork.
Haneda Airport in Tokyo will open a prayer room by next March.
Major airports in Europe, a popular destination of tourists from the Islamic world, have already completed prayer rooms for Muslims, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Airports in Japan have begun earnest efforts at last to become friendly to Muslims, said Ken Fujita, head of a project at the ASEAN Promotion Center on Trade, Investment and Tourism in Tokyo to provide information on Islam to airports.
More Muslims should visit Japan if the efforts are recognized widely in the Islamic world, he added.