How to Enjoy Japan as an Arab Tourist
By Riat Raak
The Japanese tend to be very tolerant of all cultures and ethnicities visiting their country. In recent years, the number of tourists from Arab countries, as well as the amount of Arab students studying abroad in Japan, have both significantly increased. While experience during their stay in the country is sure to be enjoyable, there are some things that has to be planned for. Just as with visiting any other foreign country, doing a sizable amount of research before your planned stay can leave you with additional time to spend on more meaningful activities, that’ll be worth of your time.
2. Finding Halal Food
It may be quite difficult to find a restaurant or grocery store that offers halal food. Even if you find one that does, it may not provide the proper certification to put your mind at ease.. If you are looking to dine with friends of different cultures, which happens frequently if you are a student at the university, it may be extremely difficult to find food options at restaurants not specifically catering to those who are Muslim. However, more and more restaurants and grocery stores are attempting to cater to those from Arab countries by offering halal menu or food sections. It would be wise to research where halal food is offered before traveling to Japan so you can better plan your trip around its availability.
If your not concerned with halal food, you shouldn’t keep an eye out for pork products, but if you are always know that even if you find a vegetarian option in a non-halal restaurant, it may still contain pork products. Oftentimes ramen is made with pork broth, and more times than not it can go unchecked by Japanese restaurants that believe they are offering a truly vegetarian, halal meal. It may also be difficult to question the Japanese waiting staff about specific ingredients, especially if you are not well-versed in their language. This is another great reason to find a restaurant that specializes in true halal food.
3. Take Advantage of a Tour Guide Service
These tours are great for providing first-time visitors to Japan a visual map for finding everything they need while traveling abroad. They will show you the best areas to find the best food, convenience stores providing items for their customers, the friendliest hotels, as well as prayer rooms and mosques for Muslim tourists. They will also bring you to several cultural areas and the most popular shopping districts in the area. These tours can last a full day, but will provide the necessary information to make the most of your stay in the country. They will also offer you many tips that will help to make your stay in Japan as easy as possible.
4. Download Helpful Apps Beforehand
There are a number of apps that provide directions and maps to the prayer rooms and mosques located throughout Japan. Accessing the apps while on-the-go will require an internet connection, so signing up to rent a pocket wifi while in Japan would be very beneficial. Wifi rental in Japan is very convenient for travelers who spend a large amount of time exploring the area as it allows you to have full wifi capabilities wherever you go.
5. Prayer Rooms and Mosques
There are a number of prayer rooms in the larger cities of Japan, offering a clean space to complete prayer rituals throughout the day. Airports have signage pointing to their prayer room locations as well. Muslim-friendly hotels usually offer a designated prayer room for added convenience. It may also be beneficial to stop by the surrounding shops, as they often have items of interest for Muslim patrons.
6. Finding the perfect Hotel
There are many hotels that cater specifically to their guests. Several offer either an eat-in restaurant or room service that provide delicious dishes day or night. Prayer mats are oftentimes provided free of charge at the more upscale hotels, or they can also be rented out. A qibla compass can be found as well. Many of these hotels are in great locations, near cultural centers or shopping districts. They may also have nearby eateries with halal menu items.
For the most part, Japan is a very tolerant country when it comes to other cultures and religions. They are extremely focused on providing a wonderful and fulfilling experience to every visitor that enters their country. Although you may receive a few more looks or glances thrown your way, you can expect to be treated with friendliness and warmth, especially in businesses that gain most of their profit from the vacationing crowd. As long as you come prepared, either by booking a tour guide service or researching food and lodging options before entering the country, you are sure to have an enjoyable stay.