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10 Reasons Why Muslim-Friendly Japan Is The Destination For You


Nabillah Roslee •  Jan 10, 2018


If you didn’t know yet, Japan has been ramping up efforts to welcome Muslim travelers! ?  With greater access to prayer facilities and Halal-certified restaurants serving local cuisine, it’s increasingly easier for Muslims to explore Japan! ? Credit: giphy There is so much about Japanese culture and history to marvel at with its backdrop of beautiful natural landscapes and bright neon signs – all in the same place. If you’re still not convinced that Japan should be on your bucket list, these 10 reasons will change your mind!
1. Japan’s natural and manmade beauty
Japan is home to Mount Fuji, among many other natural wonders. In all four seasons, the country has something different to offer, and it remains remarkably gorgeous throughout the year. ?
Lake Kawaguchi & Mount Fuji Head over to Okinawa Islands for a tropical holiday on pristine and white sandy beaches! Or what about Hokkaido for a winter wonderland and natural onsens (hot springs)? You can also visit Lake Kawaguchi for astounding views of Mount Fuji and the five lakes surrounding it. In each natural wonder, there is always something to appreciate about the gift that is God’s creation.
Noboribetsu Hot Springs, Hokkaido Credit: MIKI Yoshihito on Flickr However, Japan is also known for its loud streets abuzzing with trendy locals, colourful signages, and vibrant displays. In their own ways, cities like Tokyo and Osaka are a spectacle to behold as well! You would find yourself awestruck and your senses pleasantly overwhelmed.
Dotonbori, Osaka Credit: @sung19211 on Instagram Moreover, more halal restaurants have opened up, so you need not worry about going hungry while exploring these beautiful cities. ? [inlinewidget id=40775]
2. Rich historical and cultural background
Japan is home to a myriad of cultures and subcultures, some of which are quirky in their own nature, like anime cosplay culture! It is the perfect place to visit to get a taste of a different way of living beyond the familiarity of our own.
Todai-ji Temple, Nara Credit: @notabillah on Instagram Japan also has a really long history that will interest the history buff in you. Spanning across thousands of years to the present Heisei era, there is much to learn. Visit Japan’s many palaces, museums and memorials, and you will see just how much history has shaped what Japan has to offer today – you can even trace the roots of the Japanese tea ceremony to the beginnings of Zen Buddhism! ?
Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Kyoto Credit: @ashikinamran on Instagram
3. Feast on Japanese local cuisine!
What better reason is there to travel than to dig into the country’s local cuisines? As Japan works towards becoming more Muslim-friendly, halal food and restaurants selling Japanese cuisine have become increasingly available. If you’ve always been a huge fan of ramen, sushi and takoyaki, you can now savor them in Japan itself! My personal favorite is ramen – the thick and flavorful chicken broth is simply hard to resist, especially in the cold of winter. ?
Narita-ya, Osaka There are also Halal restaurants in Japan’s airports! Imagine – you can have your first bite of Japanese cuisine the moment you land in the country. ?
Tentei, Narita Airport (Psst… Planning to visit Tokyo? Don’t forget to check out our guide to halal food in Tokyo!)
4. Experience a new culture and don a kimono!
Have you always marveled at the beauty of a kimono? There’s no better way to try it on than in Japan itself! You can rent a kimono (or a yukata in the summer) for that Insta-perfect shot around Japan’s picturesque tourist attractions. ?
Kiyomizu-dera, Kyoto In most rental shops, the Japanese staff will help you dress up in your choice of kimono, so you don’t have to worry about messing up!
Asakusa, Tokyo In fact, there are rental shops where hijabis can rent a matching kimono hijab. The female staff are responsible for helping customers put on their kimonos, but some of them have gloves on so men need not worry about any physical contact.
Couple donning yukata in Kanazawa, Japan Credit: @mut_mut90 on Instagram This way, you can learn more about Japan’s history and culture, while dressing up like a local. ?
5. Live like the locals in Muslim-friendly ryokans
You may be wondering: what is a ryokan? ?  It is a traditional Japanese inn with tatami-matted rooms for guests to experience living like a local! Some ryokans even have private onsens for you to soak your troubles away.
Ryokan in Wakayama, Japan Credit: @a.ebonos on Instagram More ryokans are welcoming Muslim tourists by serving Halal kaiseki, which is a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner. You definitely won’t want to miss out on such an interesting and authentic Japanese experience!
Private Open-Air Bath in Kawaguchiko, Japan Credit: @eevioo on Instagram You may especially love this feature of Japan if you are an anime fan who has seen traditional spas and ryokans in the shows you’ve watched! So why not give it a try yourself?
6. Live out your fantasies at Japan’s amusement parks!
If you’re an adrenaline junkie and love amusement parks, Japan is for you! It is home to Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, as well as many other amusement parks.
Tokyo Disneyland Tokyo’s Disney Resorts and Universal Studios Japan have yet to provide prayer rooms, but not to worry! You can easily request for a prayer space from the Guest Relations’ reception desks. ?
Tokyo Disneysea Credit: Jeremy Wong on Flickr Harry Potter fans, you definitely do not want to miss a trip to Universal Studios Japan! Try a butter-beer (non-alcoholic!) and immerse yourself in a replica of your dream school, Hogwarts. ?
Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Credit: @frpecson on Instagram
7. Japan’s own myriad of spectacular mosques
As a Muslim traveler myself, I find visiting mosques in different countries to be very enlightening. In Japan, Tokyo Camii Mosque is among the few that exists – and it is certainly not a sight to miss out on!
Tokyo Camii Mosque Credit: @brother73rd on Instagram The mosque’s beauty will amaze you more as you step inside to perform your prayers. Reconstructed in 2000, the interior boasts intricate Turkish religious artwork. ?
Tokyo Camii Mosque Credit: @pino2569 on Instagram A trip to the local mosque is also a great opportunity to meet people in the Muslim community from a different part of the world. Who knows – you might have the pleasure of meeting a newfound friend from Japan. ? [inlinewidget id=40779]
8. Excellent customer service – the Japanese way
Speak of excellent customer service and Japan will not fail to come up in the conversation. Respect and humility are very important qualities to the locals, and it certainly shows from the way they serve their customers!
Arashiyama, Kyoto From hotels and restaurants right down to their convenient stores, the staff in Japan will not fail to give you the best of service quality.
Ameya-yokocho Market, Tokyo You will find their smiles infectious and they will certainly leave a lasting impression. There is much to learn from their ways of respecting, serving and looking out for the needs of their customers! ?
9. Shinkansen and Japan’s elaborate rail system
Speaking of excellent service, the trains in Japan are well-known for their trains that arrive on time. Interestingly, it is also a cultural norm to avoid speaking on the phone or chatter loudly in the trains. This is actually in consideration of the commuters who are travelling to and from their workplaces – how courteous indeed!
What makes Japan’s rail system stand out is its complexity and also… the Shinkansen! The first ever Shinkansen line – the Tokaido Shinkansen – is in fact the world’s busiest high-speed railway line. ?
The Shinkansen experience is unique to Japan, and therefore should definitely be on everyone’s travel bucket list!
10. Increasing number of prayer spaces and Muslim-friendly travel essentials
Most importantly, Muslim-friendly establishments with prayer spaces are on the rise to welcome Muslim travelers into this lovely country. Many organizations have also begun launching travel applications and curating online content for Muslim travelers! It just gets easier for us to explore Japan. ?
(P.S. DOWNLOAD the HHWT app on iOS and Android to start planning your trip to Japan now!) If Japan is not on your bucket list of travel destinations yet, put it in now! You do not want to miss the extraordinary experiences, culinary adventures and picturesque sights Japan has to offer. Furthermore, with so much of their concern being on the needs of Muslim travelers, we can now travel to Japan without much worry. So, what are you waiting for? Book that flight ticket ASAP! Credit: giphy