In preparation for the 2020 Olympics, a Tokyo restaurant is organizing an event for halal food to accommodate the thousands of Muslim athletes and tourists who will show up at the world’s largest sports event, Sports Inquirer reported on July 24.
“We’re hoping that people from around the world will enjoy their meals free from anxiety while staying in Japan,” hopes Yasuaki Takeda, 42, representative of Gran-Eat Ginza restaurant.
The event, which will continue till August 4, served some dishes like halal-certified baked and seasoned chicken breast and Szechuan sesame hot noodles with soybean-based ingredients.
The meals were proposed by Shintaro Ikeda, 38, a former Olympic badminton player who is also a member of the ‘Food Strategy Advisory Group’ established for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The coming Summer Olympics will take place next year between 24 July and 9 August when over 50 Muslim countries will participate beside hundreds of Muslim athletes from other nations as well.
Muslims in Japan
Historically, the earliest Muslim records of Japan can be found in the works of the Muslim cartographer Ibn Khordadbeh.
In 2010, Pew Research Center estimated there were 185,000 Muslims in Japan. In general, 55.8% of Japanese believe in Shinto while 34.9% adhere to Buddhism.
Halal Food in Japan
Interestingly, ‘Gran-Eat Ginza’ isn’t the only Japanese restaurant to show interest in presenting halal foods as there have been several initiatives from different sides in the East Asian nation to welcome its expected Muslim guests.
In March 2018, cooperation has occurred between the Muslim World League (MWL) and Japan Halal Business Association (JHA) when both sides have signed an agreement to regulate and certify halal food in Japan.
This was followed in September 2018 when JHA, now being a major incorporated association in helping companies develop and export products suited to Muslims, held a workshop for Japanese chefs in Shizuoka city on preparing halal cuisine.
What Is Halal?
The halal term is commonly used for meat, but it’s also applied to other food products, cosmetics, personal care products, and pharmaceuticals which mustn’t be derived from non-halal sources like pork.
Halal also applies to any other consumed and edible materials which mustn’t be harmful to human health. For example, Islam considers wines, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, E-cigs, hookah and other unhealthy things to be non-halal.
In the few previous years and due to the booming number of Muslim tourists visiting Japan aside from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, several Japanese sectors have become friendlier to Muslim visitors.
This campaign, which is encouraged by the governmental tourism authorities, included building mobile mosques, prayer rooms in a few hotels, halal cosmetics shops, as well as Muslim-friendly facilities at major touristic sites like Mount Fuji.