Japan is a chosen holiday destination for many travelers every year. Be it the delicious food, amazing scenery, beautiful cherry blossoms or exquisite traditional temples, one always finds a reason to visit the land of the rising sun. Muslim travelers in particular are mindful of religious matters, such as “halal” or “lawful” food and locations to pray. With that said, Japan has started to make changes and necessary arrangements in order to accommodate its diverse visitors. This article is a perfect guide for Muslim visitors who might be wondering how to make the most out of their trip in Japan without having to worry about where to stay, eat or have fun!
Muslim-friendly hotels in Tokyo
There are many hotels in Tokyo that are easily accessible or close to popular shopping areas, but only a handful are Muslim-friendly. We’ve selected the best hotels in Tokyo that cater to Muslims, with facilities like prayer rooms and halal restaurants onsite!
This hotel has Muslim-friendly services and facilities such as prayer rooms, a 24-hour cafe that serves halal food and local culture tours. One of Tokyo’s largest mosque, Tokyo Camii, is also within walking distance. In addition, their reception desk is multilingual and available all day. Irons and hair dryers are also available for guests to rent. Depending on the number of guests and type of room, a night at the hotel can cost from 7,150 JPY to 22,000 JPY (approximately 65.78 to 202.40 USD).
Sakura Hotel Hatagaya
Address: 1-32-3, Hatagaya, Shibuya City, Tokyo (see map)
Price: from 65 USD
Muslim-friendly menus are available at three restaurants located in the hotel: Shisen Chinese restaurant, Café California and Bamboo Lobby Bar and Lounge, as well as room service and club lounge. Disposable paper plates and plastic utensils will also be provided for guests while they eat their meal. Other amenities guests can enjoy include an indoor swimming pool, a spa and a gym for an additional cost. The hotel even has its own Japanese garden filled with gingko and maple trees, the view changing with the season.
Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo
Address: 1-1-50 Shirokanedai, Minato City, Tokyo (see map)
Price: from 229 USD
Conveniently located in the center of the Kabuki-cho district and directly above Seibu-Shinjuku train station, this hotel offers easy and accessible routes to major areas in Tokyo for shopping and dining. It is also a mere 5 minutes walk away from Shinjuku station and other train lines. Some amenities include massage services, internet stations and a Western and Japanese restaurant. There are prayer mats and qibla compasses available for Muslim guests to perform ritual prayers. A standard single room can cost around 11,405 JPY (approximately 104.93 USD) while a deluxe double can cost around 19,008 JPY (approximately 174.87 USD).
Shinjuku Prince Hotel
Address: 1-30-1, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo (see map)
Price: from 104 USD
The concept of Agora Place Asakusa is “style my stay”, whereby individual guests are able to design their own room and create their own style at a price, instead of staying in a room with basic amenities and tools. Some amenities for purchase or rent include shampoo, towels and straightening irons. For Muslim guests, there is a “Muslim welcome morning plate” at the café, which is “halal” certified and the food is served on disposable plates and utensils. The menu for the breakfast buffet is also written in various languages such as Japanese, English and Chinese, and ingredients used are displayed for guests to ascertain which food they are able to eat. Do purchase a ticket for breakfast and make a reservation at the reception by 5 pm a day before your arrival to obtain the halal menu option. Prayer mats are also available for rental, as well as a qibla compass and a complimentary Muslim-friendly map of Taito-ku.
Agora Place Asakusa
Address: 2-2-9, Kotobuki, Taito City, Tokyo (see map)
Price: from 53 USD
Prayer Rooms in Tokyo
1) Takashimaya Shinjuku Store
Takashimaya is a department store with around 14 floors, selling items from jewellery to clothing to household goods and even has restaurants and beauty salons on an whole separate level. There is a prayer room located on the 11th floor for Muslim travelers to perform their ritual prayers.
Takashimaya Shinjuku Store
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am - 8pm
Address: 5-24-2, Sendagaya, Shibuya City, Tokyo
2) Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
Haneda Airport not only has various shops and restaurants to fulfil your needs, it also has a prayer room located at the international terminal departure lobby on the 3rd floor, before immigration. The room also provides a washing space for use before praying.
Tokyo International Airport (Haneda)
Address: 2-6-5, Haneda-kuko, Ota City, Tokyo
Mosques in Tokyo
1) Tokyo Camii
The Tokyo Camii Turkish Cultural Center is considered to be one of the biggest mosques in Japan. It is managed by the Turkish government and boasts of stained glass windows as well as a high ceiling, emanating a peaceful atmosphere. The first level is a cultural center where both visitors and worshippers can admire the decor and rest. The second level is a sacred place for worship, with certain rules that worshippers would have to abide by, such as dressing in modest clothing, keeping quiet and no photography during prayer times. The mosque also provides hijabs (headscarves) for females to borrow for prayer.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Monday, 10am - 6pm
Address: 1-19, Oyama-cho, Shibuya City, Tokyo
2) Asakusa Mosque
Established in 1998, this mosque has five floors, with a library on the ground floor containing books in different languages. Some activities in the mosque include a five-time daily prayer and weekly Friday prayer, a weekly Islamic lecture and performing a marriage ceremony. The mosque is also near places such as the Tokyo Skytree and Sumida park.
Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday to Friday, 10am - 5pm. Sunday (2pm - 5pm).
Address: 1-9-12, Higashi Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo
3) Kamata Masjid
Located near the Kamata station and comprising of three floors, Kamata Masjid is open for all five daily prayers in the week. The first floor is a prayer hall for men while the second floor is for women. The prayer hall serves the Muslim community living in or around Kamata and locals who are interested in Islam. However, compared to the aforementioned mosques, this is smaller in size, barely able to accommodate 50 people at one time. It is still worth a look if you’re in that area though!
Address: 5-1-2, Kamata, Ota City, Tokyo
Muslim-friendly places to visit in Tokyo
Does the name Harajuku sound familiar? Harajuku is not only famous for its cute and lolita fashion, but also for its food. The ever famous Takeshita Dori is a must-go if you are in Harajuku. Usually really crowded on weekends, the street is lined with fashion shops, cafes and crepe stands. Generally, shops open from 9:30am to 8:30pm daily. Here are some recommended shops along the street you can check out!
If you are looking for cheap souvenirs to get your friends and family, head on over to the Daiso outlet in Harajuku, one of the largest in Tokyo, where almost everything is 100 JPY (approximately 0.92 USD). Daiso sells snacks, souvenirs, stationary, towels and everything else you might need!
Daiso Harajuku Outlet
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm
Address: 6-1-9 Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
If you get hungry or are in need of a light snack, you can try the Calbee outlet, where there are different flavours of potato snacks. Although it does not hold a halal certification, you are welcome to ask the staff if the product contains pork or alcohol.
Calbee Harajuku Outlet
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 8:30pm
Address: 1 Chome-168 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
c) Marion Crepes
Along Takeshita Dori, crepe stands can be found almost everywhere on the road. If you are unsure of which one to eat at, most stores offer almost the same flavours so it doesn’t really matter. One recommended store would be Marion crepes. Do take note that the shop does not have a halal certificate but you can check out their menu for the ingredients used.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10:30am – 8:30pm. Closed on weekends.
Address: 1-6-15 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
2) Ameya-yokocho Street
Ameya-yokocho or ameyoko for short, is a popular shopping street for tourists in Japan. In the past, candies were sold in this street, hence giving it the name Ameya-yokocho, meaning candy shop alley. The word “ame” stands for America as many American products were sold there during World War II. Most shops sell goods at affordable prices and some even let you bargain the price! Stores sell a variety of items such as shoes, bags, snacks and clothes. On every turn, you can be sure that a sale is going on somewhere. The street is great for Muslim visitors as souvenirs are sold cheaply and at the corner of the street, there are various halal shops selling fast food.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm
Address: 4 Ueno, Taito Ward, Tokyo
Asakusa has many shops and attractions that are specifically catered to Muslim visitors, here are two that’s worth going to!
a) Kyoto Kimono Rental Wargo
Ever dreamt of donning a traditional Japanese kimono? Kyoto Kimono Rental Wargo is a Muslim-friendly store, providing a place for Muslim customers to do their prayers, as well as renting kimonos or yukatas to wear with their hijab. Don’t fret if you have no idea how to put on your kimono as there will be female staff assisting you in the process. Customers are able to wear their clothes beneath the “nagajuban” or “inner kimono” without taking off their clothes or “hijab”. However, the store does not provide any “hijab”. On the other hand, the store does offer “kanzashi” or “Japanese traditional hairpin” rentals, which will suit the kimono or hijab, for free.
A standard kimono costs around 2,900 JPY (approximately 26.65 USD) to rent and it is recommended to reserve your kimono online first as they tend to sell out pretty fast. The duration of the entire kimono dressing process from choosing the kimono, dressing and hairstyling can take around an hour or an hour and a half during the Spring and Autumn peak seasons. The Asakusa outlet is just one of many, with most outlets situated in Kyoto.
Kyoto Kimono Rental Wargo
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 9:30am - 6pm (Return by 5:30pm)
Address: 1-41-8, Atelier Building 1F/2F, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
b) Don Quijote
Don Quijote, a large souvenir shop, is a great stop for last minute shopping! What separates it from other souvenir shops is not merely its size but also a section dedicated to Muslim-friendly products. Different levels offer different goods such as cosmetics, snacks, clothing and travel accessories, so do keep your eyes open for the halal icon on products or you might miss the Muslim-product section! With over 160 outlets, there are plenty of choices to choose from, depending on where you are going. However, the outlet in Asakusa is primarily known for having a wide range of products specifically catered to Muslim visitors. Some items you might want to take a look at are Japanese cartoon hijab designs, as well as Hello Kitty gaufrette wafer snacks and Samurai Ramen, which is created without pork or beef stock.
To top it off, if you spend a minimum amount of 5,000 JPY (approximately 45.80 USD) on goods, you are eligible to apply for a tax-free claim just by showing your passport. However, do note that the goods are categorised into two different sections: consumables and non-consumables. The first referring to products such as food, drinks or cosmetics while the latter refers to products like clothing or keychains. Bear in mind that the tax-free claim only applies when you spend 5,000 JPY on solely consumable or non-consumable goods and not the combination amount of the two.
Don Quijote Asakusa Outlet
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 2-10
Website: www.donki.com/en/ (details on other outlets can be found here)
Halal Restaurants in Tokyo
In Japan, as the two major religions are Shinto and Buddhism, there may not be many “halal” restaurants commonly available. So here are some Muslim-friendly restaurants in Tokyo that are “halal” certified you can check out!
Sumiyaki-ya is a store dedicated to cater to the needs of both Muslims and non-Muslims. By making all meat “halal”, all customers can be ensured that the quality and observance of Islamic traditions are met. The menu offers a selection of Hida beef, Kobe beef and local beef to choose from. Even the former prime minister of Malaysia, Mr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, has enjoyed “halal” yakiniku at the store. There are English-speaking staff at the store so you don’t have to worry about ordering! The only thing holding you back however, might be the price whereby an average meal for one person costs around 3,100 JPY (approximately 28.52 USD). For the delicious beef though, it might be worth the experience!
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30am - 3pm (Lunch), 5pm - 11pm (Dinner)
Address: Minato-ku Nishiazabu, 3-20-16, Tokyo
2) Hanasaka Ji-san
Hanasaka Ji-san is one of the few stores in Tokyo that offers “halal” certified Wagyu beef “shabu shabu”, or more commonly known as “hotpot”. The food is suitable for both Muslim and non-Muslim visitors alike. The restaurant provides private rooms for guests, suitable for parties or a romantic date. There is an English menu available, as well as English-speaking staff, and menu options include all-you-can-drink, vegetarian and religious dishes. The average price for a meal at lunch is 890 JPY (approximately 8.19 USD) and at dinner is 4,000 JPY (approximately 36.80 USD). Reservations are also highly recommended as the place is not large.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11:30am - 3pm (Lunch), 5pm - 12am (Dinner)
Address: 3-22 Sakuragaokacho, Sakura Bldg. B1, Shibuya
3) Minokichi Tobu Ikebukuro
If you are feeling generous in spending for food, you might want to check out this restaurant! The restaurant does not use pork for dishes and is able to serve meals without utilising Japanese sake. There are also Muslim-friendly courses, such as the lunch set which is from 2,700 JPY (approximately 24.84 USD) and the dinner kaiseki course, which is from 7,560 JPY (approximately 69.55 USD).
Minokichi Tobu Ikebukuro
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11am - 11pm. Sundays and Public Holidays, 11am - 10pm.
Address: Spice Ikebukuro Tobu 15F, 1-1-25, Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Halal ramen in Tokyo
Ramen is a common food in Japan that is loved by both locals and tourists alike. However, as most soups contain pork broth, it might be hard for Muslim visitors to try out this dish. Here are two stores we found where you can try out ramen dishes, but of course, without any pork-based soup.
The concept of this restaurant began with a desire to allow people from all over the world to enjoy ramen and hence, removing the use of alcohol or pork in the food. Instead of using pork for the soup broth, chicken is used as a substitute. The noodles are freshly made at the store’s own factory and you can order through the vending machine outside the store. An average meal typically costs around 700 JPY (approximately 6.44 USD), which is a pretty good deal if you ask me. If you order tsukemen noodles (a ramen dish you eat after dipping it in another bowl of soup), a common practice after finishing your meal is to call out “su-pu-wa-ri o-ne-gai-shi-ma-su”. This means “soup please” as it is typical to combine the leftover tsukemen sauce with soup and drink it all together. In addition, the restaurant also provides a space for prayer.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am - 10pm. Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday, 11am - 11pm.
Address: 2-7-13, Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
2) Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
A unique ramen place in Tokyo which serves “ochazuke”, whereby the ramen is served with a bowl of rice which eaten with the leftover broth! As part of the set, the meal also comes with grilled chicken and yakitori. The restaurant is 100% halal, is vegan-friendly and does not offer alcohol in the menu.
Shinjuku Gyoen Ramen Ouka
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, 2pm - 10pm. Friday from 5pm - 10pm. Saturday and Sunday, 12:30pm - 10pm.
Address: 1-11-7, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Halal sushi in Tokyo
When in Japan, eating sushi is a definite must! While most tourists can indulge in the local delicacy for their everyday meal, Muslim visitors are more restricted in what they can eat. There are only a couple of places that offer halal sushi and here is the one most recommended to go to!
Asakusa Sushi Ken
The first halal certified sushi restaurant in Japan, Asakusa Sushi Ken expanded from a common sushi restaurant to one that met the needs of Muslim customers. Tasting and looking exactly like sushi, customers can be sure to experience an authentic local cuisine. Chefs prepare the meal right before customers on the first level of the restaurant but if customers so desire, they are also able to have their meal in a traditional dining room seated on “tatami” or “straw” mats on the second level. Some recommended popular dishes are the anago bowl (made with conger eel), sushi and Japanese set dish. In addition, the restaurant has English-speaking staff and an English menu readily available. There is also a free prayer space on the second level and a prayer mat for Muslim customers. Meals at lunch time are generally cheaper and could cost from 1,300 JPY (approximately 11.96 USD) while for dinner it is from 5,000 JPY (approximately 46.00 USD).
Asakusa Sushi Ken
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 12pm - 2pm (Lunch), 5pm - 12am (Dinner). Sundays and Public Holidays, 11:30am - 3pm (Lunch), 5pm -10pm (Dinner).
Address: Asakusa 2-11-4, Taito City, Tokyo
Website: www.asakusa-sushiken.com/ (Japanese)
Things to look out for
Before you travel to Japan, be sure to check your visa requirements! There are certain countries and regions that require a visa to enter Japan and the processing time may vary for each individual. You can check your visa requirements via the link below and it is recommended to submit an application at least two weeks before traveling!
2) Communication sheet
There is a sheet available for better communication between Muslim tourists and locals on the Japan National Tourism Organisation website. The sheet allows Muslim visitors to indicate their requirements and preferences by ticking “yes” or “no” boxes before handing it to a restaurant or hotel staff to inform them. This is an extremely useful sheet as staff are able to let visitors know if the food served is suitable for them to consume. Some questions include: “does this restaurant have a non-pork menu?” and “do you have a space that can be used for prayer?” The sheet is easy to print out and use, and is a great way to ensure that hotels/restaurants can accommodate to your religious needs.
3) Tour package
If you are having a hard time planning a trip to Japan, you might want to check out tour packages specifically designed for Muslim travelers! Japan has a number of travel agents, such as Miyako International Tourist Co.,Ltd, that are equipped with trained Muslim staff to arrange tours for Muslim tourists. The tour package includes heading to popular tourist spots, having meals that are “halal” and places to pray such as mosques or prayer rooms. There will be a Muslim guide to provide advice and assistance to guests throughout the tour regarding local customs or Muslim-friendly recommendations. If anyone has any areas they wish to visit, tours can also be arranged to accommodate their wishes.
Miyako International Tourist Co., Ltd
Address: Hanyuu Bldg.4F, 11-4 Kabuto-chou, Nihonbashi, Chuou-ku, Tokyo
Useful apps for Muslim travellers
Your phone is not only useful for taking pictures, making phone calls or finding directions, but with the appropriate apps downloaded, it can also be your saviour in a worry-free trip to Japan.
1) Have Halal Will Travel Muslim Travel Planner
The Have Halal Will Travel (HHWT) organisation has launched a travel planning guide informing Muslim visitors of Muslim-friendly buildings or prayer rooms while on a trip. With the app, Muslim travelers can explore Japan with ease and without having to worry about their religious needs.
2) Halal Navi
Another application that you can use is the Halal Navi, which shows you a range of halal restaurants and mosques in Japan. This is useful if you’re planning a trip in advance by bookmarking the places you want to go. It also connects the location to Google maps to help you navigate better. In addition, you are able to check reviews and tips from other Muslim friends both abroad and local.
3) Halal Gourmet Japan
This gives you information on halal and vegetarian restaurants in different prefectures of Japan. Content is regularly updated and it also includes Muslim-friendly places, some which may not have a “halal” certificate but do not serve pork or alcohol. For easier accessibility, restaurants are represented by icons on the app, attached with a short explanation. There is also information provided on prayer spaces availability, which includes mosques, buildings or restaurants.
4) Japan Connected Free WiFi
Lastly, if you can’t wait till you get back to your accommodation to send pictures of your trip to your family and friends or post it on social media, this application alerts you of any WiFi services in the area. Japan has free WiFi services in almost every building, be it the airport, convenience stores or restaurants! Just do remember to download the offline map before you leave the house!
A trip to remember
With this Muslim-friendly handbook, you can rest easy knowing where to eat, stay and play in Japan! Do check out at least one of the places mentioned in this article and hope your future planning to Japan will be less of a struggle with these tips! Happy planning!