While Japan has only a very small percentage of Muslim residents, the number of Muslim tourists has been increasing considerably in recent years. Japanese, in general, are very tolerant towards different religions, including Islam, but there is a wide lack of understanding of the religion and a shortage of services and facilities for Muslim travellers. However, with the increasing number of Muslim visitors, tourist associations and businesses have ramped up efforts to improve the situation to better cater to Muslim tourists.

Globally, Muslims make up the second largest religious group, with 1.8 billion people, or 24% of the world’s population. It is estimated that there will be 160 million Muslim travellers by 2020, and the figure is expected to increase to 230 million by 2026.

In and around major cities in Japan a good number of Hotels, Ryokan and Resorts are introduced as Muslim-Friendly. The staffs of these Halal-Friendly hotels have received training for providing a proper environment which Muslims need to have when they travel.

Such hotels offer Muslim travellers Halal food and prayer rooms or rooms which have signs that show the Qibla direction. Some also rent prayer mat, “Sadjadah”. And some can offer separate spas or swimming areas for men and women. Not surprisingly these hotels attract Muslims from all over the world.

One of the perfect Muslim Friendly city in Japan – Okinawa.

Do you all know about Okinawa?
Okinawa is one of the foremost resort destination that Japan boasts to the world. Also known as the Hawaii of Japan!

In line with an effort to attract Muslim tourists to Okinawa, an increasing number of resort hotels and restaurants now offer halal food and accommodation, including the Hotel Yugaf Inn Okinawa in Nago City, which has recently been certified as Muslim-friendly by the Nippon Asia Halal Association.

 

Is Okinawa Muslim-friendly?

Since Okinawa is still a place many people are not familiar with, there are still some Muslims asking if it was easy to find Halal food and prayer amenities. Although, Okinawa is not as widely available as in other cities like Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto, there are a number of halal and Muslim-friendly restaurants scattered throughout the main island, and there is also a new mosque located in the Nakahami district.

The closest airport to Okinawa City is the Naha Airport – the seventh busiest airport in the country. Located a few kilometres towards the west of the city hall in Naha, it is the primary airport for passengers travelling to and from Okinawa and serves millions of passengers throughout the year.

Interestingly, there is a Prayer room, especially for Muslim visitors at Naha Airport!  Located on the 4th floor of the International Terminal, near the Observatory Area.

There are a few Muslim-friendly hotels in Okinawa, and highly recommended one will be:

Hotel Yugaf Inn

This hotel in Okinawa is the first certified Muslim-friendly hotel in Okinawa. Hotel Yuqaf Inn provides a variety of services to ensure a comfortable stay for Muslim guests. In addition, special amenities, including prayer rugs, prayer timetable and a Qibla, will be provided to Muslim guests in their rooms.

In the Muslim friendly guest room, following items are provided.

  • Prayer rug.
  • Prayer timetable for Okinawa area.
  • Qibla direction for pray at hotel.
  • The reservation is required 3 days in advance.

Dishes prepared with halal-certified meat and other ingredients can be found at the hotel’s breakfast and lunch buffets at all times. Two meal options, both consisting of halal items made with Okinawa’s specialty products, are available for dinner.

(Reservations required at least three days in advance for the halal dinner options and accommodation.)

All halal dishes are prepared in full compliance with Islamic dietary law and using separate kitchen utensils from those used to cook non-halal dishes.

Hotel Yuqaf uses only Halal certified products including Halal certified meat to cook Muslim-friendly meal. Preparation and cooking Muslim-friendly menu is executed by its own cooking ware in the kitchen being separated from others.

The staffs use separate kitchen wares to cook non-Muslim meal.  Furthermore, in buffet style breakfast and lunch, there is a green label to the dishes in green to indicate for Muslim guests.

Donburi Nantoya is one of the recommended Muslim-friendly restaurant is located just nearby to Naha Airport, a 5 min-walk.

Donburi Nantoya

Because Okinawa has been known as a popular resort area in Japan. In these recent years, the number of Muslim tourists visiting Okinawa has increase.

On this regard, a Muslim friendly restaurant “Donburi Nantoya” opens at the entrance of that popular resort Okinawa, Naha Airport. Donburi means ‘rice bowl dish’.

At the first glance, you may see it as common restaurant, but in fact, they are using all halal ingredients and seasonings. The seasoning used is Halal-Certified.

As for their food preparation, they only use the finest selected fresh ingredients just unloaded from Naha Fishing Port. The meat – both beef and chicken are Halal-Certified. They do not have any Alcohol and pork seasoning. The kitchen is for general cooking and not exclusively for Halal only.

Their menus include a Muslim-friendly vegan, vegetarian food, allergy-friendly and other cuisine. Vegans could have curry rice, mapo tofu, and there’s a mixed vegetable tempura (though may be cooked in shared fryer).

Generally, they use same tableware which has been regularly sanitize in a proper way. They allowed the Muslim travellers to make a request for disposable fork, spoon, knife and wooden chopsticks, should they do not wish to use the tableware.

 

In the restaurant itself, they also have a praying space for Muslim travellers. The praying space can fit up to 4 people. Do not need to worry about the language barrier as at times, there are English/foreign language speaking staff available.

 

In the restaurant itself, they also have a praying space for Muslim travellers. The praying space can fit up to 4 people. Do not need to worry about the language barrier as at times, there are English/foreign language speaking staff available.

If you happen to visit Okinawa, be sure to stop by Donburi Nantoya and try!

 

Another Muslim-friendly restaurant in Okinawa – Tubarama.

“Tubarama” – located in Kokusai Street, 7 minutes from Naha Airport. The most famous downtown area in Okinawa serves local cuisine of this region. You can make yourself at home and relieve the fatigues of your journey while looking at the interior decorations which imitate good old Okinawan houses. This is also a themed restaurant with outdoor seating and special performances or shows on selected days.

**Make a reservation in advance if you would like to have a Muslim-friendly meal.**

 

Almost everyone in the world travels and when they travel, they will buy souvenirs to bring back to their hometown for their family and friends or just as a momento.

In Okinawa, the Muslim travellers will expect to find many beautiful souvenirs. One of the recommended souvenir shop is Okashi Goten in Matsuo.

Okashi Goten in Matsuo

 

Okashi Goten in Matsuo is only 3 minute walk from Kencho-mae monorail station. Cardinal castle that stands on Kokusai street will catch your eyes. There are many amazing souvenirs up for grabs for your family and friends!

Okashi Goten in Matsuo, operated by the confectionery manufacturing company Okashi Goten, has an assembly line in-store for its Original Purple Sweet Potato Tarts, which is a souvenir representative of Okinawa. The factory has obtained the Muslim-Friendly Certification.

The factory certification covers raw materials, storage facilities, storage method, and the manufacturing line. The company has passed all required certification criteria up to shipment of the product.

In factories that carry only a single product like Okashi Goten in Matsuo, there is no concern over different assembly lines crossing. The popular souvenirs made with purple sweet potatoes from Okinawa can be enjoyed by followers of Islam with a peace of mind.

Another great souvenir – is Halal Beniimo Tart (Okashigoden).

Beniimo Tart (Okashigoden)

Beniimo tart, a sweet potato tart is always a hit souvenir of Okinawa all year around.

In the spacious store, the visitors can watch the production line of Beniimo Tart through glass windows. They not only offer various kinds of sweets but also Awamori and Okinawan folk crafts, so there is no need to run store to store for souvenir shopping. The factory has been certified by the Japan Halal Association in 2014.

Beniimo Tart” – The tart is made of 100% Okinawan purple sweet potato that was introduced to Japan in the early 17th century from China through Okinawa, and to this day is a specialty of the prefecture. Not only people outside of Okinawa appreciate the purple sweet, it also has many fans among residents. Surprisingly, no colouring or preserving agent are used to bring out that beautiful purple colour. Long-term preservation is difficult, but perfect for souvenirs for your family, relatives, and friends.

Beniimo Tart – looks like a small boat filled with swirls of piped purple cream. It is one of the favourite memories of visitors to Okinawa.

Do note that only the beniimo mo tarts are halal-certified (look out for the boxes with the halal logo on them!).

Because there are quite a number of Muslim travellers to Okinawa, so there are places of interest, tourist attractions for them.

One of the recommended places – Forest Adventure in Onna.

Forest Adventure in Onna.

A spot recommended for anyone wanting to have a thrilling experience. You can tie a lifeline rope to yourself and glide the sky. Challenge yourself and unleashed your inner monkey!

There is 9 jungle zip trip courses and 1 adventure course with zip lines, suspended bridges and our adrenaline rushing Tarzan swing!

Come out and experience a unique adventure that’s perfect for family and friends to enjoy together, and discover the stunning ocean view while you swinging through the forest!

Forest Adventure in Onna is located at a hilltop where you can look down to see the ocean, so if you are scared of sky gliding, you can also have fun hiking.

Well, it has been human nature; the women in particular – that whenever we go, be it local or overseas, the one thing we love doing. And that is Shopping!

So, where can the Muslim travellers shop? And any prayer space in the mall? At AEON MALL Okinawa Rycom!

AEON MALL Okinawa Rycom!

AEON MALL is a shopping mall found anywhere in Japan, but at AEON MALL Okinawa Rycom, is where you can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs such as Okinawan lion dolls. There is also a prayer room in the mall, which is a great news for the Muslims!

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