North Mt. Fuji area enhances amenities for Muslim visitors in Japan

KOFU, Japan (The Japan News/ANN) - Residents in the area below the northern slope of Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture, which receives many foreign tourists, are putting effort into creating an environment more welcoming to Muslims.

Behind this move lies a surge in the number of tourists from Indonesia and Malaysia, both predominantly Muslim countries.

According to the Yamanashi prefectural government, 47,990 Indonesians and 42,680 Malaysians stayed overnight in the prefecture in 2018, up 18 per cent and 55.5 per cent, respectively, from the previous year. The number of Indonesian and Malaysian visitors is expected to increase going forward.

At the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park in Fujiyoshida in the prefecture, a prayer room opened on Feb. 4. The about 16-square-meter room was built by renovating part of a first-aid room. The room is equipped with a marker that indicates the direction of Mecca, the Muslim holy place, and a place to wash hands and feet before praying. Visitors can use the room freely during the park’s opening hours. 

“This room will help increase the satisfaction level of Muslim visitors,” an official of the amusement park said.

At the Fujiten Snow Resort in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, a prayer space opened last year.

Efforts are also underway to offer hospitality to Muslim tourists with regard to food.

On Feb. 15, a restaurant in Oshino Shinobi no Sato, a tourist facility featuring ninja in Oshino, Yamanashi Prefecture, acquired a halal certification that is issued to facilities and products conforming to Islamic law. The restaurant does not use pork or alcohol in its food, while setting aside special spaces for cooking and ingredient storage.

Sylvans, a microbrewery restaurant in Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, began offering a “Muslim Welcome BBQ” in October last year. The restaurant added a barbecue dish using Halal certified meat to its menu.

All these facilities plan to increase the number of halal menu items from here on. 

“Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we are receiving more and more inquiries about halal food. We’d like to continue making efforts to increase the satisfaction level of all tourists and make the entire area grow as an international tourism site,” Harunobu Kayanuma, a general manager of the restaurant, said.