As the Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo in 2020, Japan is getting ready with the preparation to accommodate many visitors. Although most Japanese people believe in Buddha or still maintain to go to the Shinto’s shrine in the New Year, religion is not included as consideration of law or of government’s decision. Therefore, the construction of religious buildings such as mosques or churches was usually initiated by its own religious groups. It is allowed by the government as long as the requirement has been accomplished.
Islam came to Japan via Middle Eastern traders who came as the country started to open to the world in the 19th century. In 2010 there were 100.000 Muslims living in Japan. The number of tourists visiting Japan from Muslim countries is also rising up each year. It is projected that it will reach more than 1 million in 2020. ("Japan opens up to halal tourism", The National, August 29, 2016.) To these tourists, mosques and prayer rooms are very important in order to be able to maintain their faith while traveling in Japan. Some of these mosques have ancient Middle East or Persian architecture, while some others are simply apartment buildings that have been bought or rented into mosques. If you are a Muslim, you don’t want to miss to pray in these mosques and even if you are not, some of these mosques have interesting history which can expand your knowledge.
Kobe Muslim Mosque
This mosque is the first mosque built in Japan in 1935, located in the Kitano-cho neighborhood, close to Kitano Ijinkan-gai (Kitano foreign district) in Kobe. Weekly Friday prayer, iftaar (breaking the fast together) and night prayer in Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr shalah (a prayer on the day that marks the end of Ramadan), and Eid al-Adha shalah are regular activities held in this mosque.
Kobe Muslim MosqueA study tour is also allowed with free entrance. You can directly come and meet the committee who lives there. He will gladly explain about the mosque and the history behind it. For a woman visitor, you don’t have to wear hijab to come here. Regardless of your gender, just be considerate enough to wear the proper clothes.
Kobe Muslim Mosque: Interior
Kobe Muslim Mosque: Second floor for womenThere are also several halal shops and a halal restaurant close to the mosque which make it easier for Muslim visitors to find halal food. This mosque can be reached within 15-mins walk from Sannomiya Station.
Kobe Muslim Mosque: ExteriorFor further information about Kobe Muslim Mosque: Kobe Muslim Mosque website (in Japanese only).
Located in Shibuya Tokyo, Tokyo, this mosque was built in 1938. In this six-pillar with 23.25 meters’ tall dome building, not only been used as mosque but also as Turkish culture center.
Tokyo Camii Mimbar (By Abasaa (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Tokyo Camii Interior (Photo by Photocon Japan on Flickr)Take a No. 69 bus from Shibuyaeki bus stop and get off at Yoyogiueharaeki bus stop, or take Chiyoda Line train to Yoyogiuehara station. This mosque can be accessed about 1-min walk from Yoyogiueharaeki bus stop or 4-mins walk from Yoyogiuehara station.
Tokyo Camii Outside (photo by Wiiii (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons)For further information about Tokyo Camii Mosque: Tokyo Camii website.
Sapporo Masjid is one of mosques in Japan that situated in a normal building which was initiated by the Hokkaido Islamic Society (HIS). This mosque is 14-mins walk from Sapporo Station.
For further information about activity in Sapporo Mosque: Sapporo Masjid website
Located in Nakamura ward, Nagoya, this mosque which was established in July 1998, can be accessed by Higashiyama Line to Honjin Station and walk for about 3-4 minutes, 5-mins walk from Sakou Station, or 15-mins walk from Nagoya Station. Five-time a day prayer, weekly Friday prayer, and arrangement of Islamic events are some of activities held in this mosque.
Nagoya Mosque (photo courtesy of Nagoya Mosque)
Nagoya Mosque entrance (photo courtesy of Nagoya Mosque)
Bab al-Islam Gifu Masjid including The Muslim Culture Center in it, is a Mosque located near Gifu University, in Gifu Prefecture, was established by Nagoya Mosque to provide Muslims needs, in particular Muslim students who live near the university. This mosque construction was completed in 2008.
For further information about Nagoya Mosque and Gifu Mosque: Nagoya Mosque website
Al Nour Islamic Center-Fukuoka Masjid construction in 2009 by Islamic Cultural Center Kyushu (ICCKyu). Aside from the usual activity, this mosque also conducts Islamic events and bazaar to introduce Islam to common people.
Fukuoka Mosque (photo by そらみみ (Soramimi) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons)For further information: Fukuoka Masjid website
Due to the high density of tourists from Indonesia, Malaysia, and many other Muslim’s countries, in addition to mosques there are quite many prayer rooms provided in public facilities such as airports, shopping malls, and amusement parks, to facilitate Muslims to keep their devotion. Even if there is not a special room designated as a prayer room, you can always ask for help at the information center that will gladly provide you information of any places you can use to pray.
You can access the Halal in Japan website for further information about prayer rooms and halal food in Japan.