Written by: Zhafira Aqyla
Many of us used to have thousands of questions when we first thought about moving to Japan to study or work. While we may notice the increased awareness on the necessities of Muslim communities around the world, a part of us must have been pretty skeptical as to how much Japan – all the way from Hokkaido to Okinawa – can accommodate our needs.
In this series, we attempt to interview Muslims living all around Japan to answer your pressing questions. First up, we’ll start with the third-largest city in Japan, a city famous for its Universal Studios, Osaka!
How comfortable is it to live as a Muslim in Osaka?
Let’s break down this question into several focused points.
To live comfortably as a Muslim anywhere in the world, there are some fundamental boxes that a country must be able to check. First, whether or not we can pray five times a day. Next, whether or not we can find Halal foods when we go out. Finally, whether or not we receive discriminatory treatments from the people around us.
How easy is it to pray in Osaka?
The easiest question is, it is easy so long as you’re willing to make the effort to look for a spot, and sometimes, we can only find one when we’re willing to ask the staff to take us to an empty space. Not to worry, there is an increasing number of prayer spaces both in public areas and in universities around Osaka that you can find through our Japan Masjid Finder when you’re out traveling.
Can I find a place to pray when I go out in the city?
The writer is a student at Osaka University and loves to hang out at two spots: a place in the heart of Osaka called Umeda, where you can enjoy a wide variety of entertainment ranging from the cinema to shopping mall located close to the JR Osaka Station, and Lalaport EXPOCITY, where it is only a few stations away from the campus. Guess what they have in common? They both have prayer rooms specifically provided for those who need it, which are primarily Muslims.
Universities that have a large number of international students also usually provide prayer rooms for students where they can do Friday prayers and gather for iftar during weekdays. You are free to use the space even if you are not a student, so long as you follow the rules accordingly. If not, you should be able to ask for space, the staff for international students will be happy to assist as long as you ask!
I will need to seek an Imam for my spiritual guide while I’m in Japan, at which mosques can I find them?
Osaka itself has two mosques that the community often gathers during Ramadan and Friday prayers. The first one is the Ibaraki Mosque and is a short distance away from Osaka University’s Suita Campus. Many students bike from campus to Ibaraki mosque for Friday prayers. During the weekend, the mosque offers community activities, where you can consult your worries on any religious matters.
The second one is Osaka Masjid in Chibune area. This mosque is bigger in size than Ibaraki and has a small market where the Muslim community can shop for Halal food ingredients. If you visit during lunchtime or dinnertime, the halal restaurants around the mosque will be open for you to enjoy.
Food, how likely is it to find Halal food in Osaka?
The answer is extremely likely. Osaka is one of the cities with the biggest number of Muslim-friendly restaurants and groceries, and it is going to continue to increase considering the number of tourists from around the world.
We have an extensive list of restaurants you can visit, which you can access through our database at Halal Gourmet Japan. Halal Gourmet Japan also has a mobile application that you can download for free (iPhone and Android). In addition to the database, the app also allows you to identify Muslim-friendly products in a supermarket or convenience store from its new feature.
Restaurants, where can I find them if I want to go out with my coworkers or friends?
Go through our website and you will find some of our recommendations. Crowd favorites in Osaka at the moment are Yakiniku Panga, for Japanese yakiniku, and Matsuri Halal Restaurant, for popular Japanese dishes.
If you are seeking the most popular ones, you can find them through our articles where we release a monthly review of most favorite restaurants according to our audience.
To make matters easier, you can also download the Halal Travel Guide Map for Osaka and visit all the places we recommend – guaranteed to be halal and provide prayer spaces in some areas!
What if I’m going to live here for the long-term? Where can I go grocery shopping?
The most popular answer would be Gyomu Super, which exists throughout the country. Simply search your nearest Gyomu Super and you will be able to find halal ingredients, seasonings, and meats, ranging all the way from chicken to lamb, imported from Brazil, Australia, and other regions. These products will have a halal mark, making it easy for your eyes to spot.
If you live near Osaka University, you are in for a treat because the newest grocery store, Asian Halal Mart, caters specifically to your needs.
If these stores are a bit far from where you live, you can also easily shop online from websites that sell and deliver Halal food straight to your doorstep.
Alright, what about the convenience stores? Do they also sell Halal food?
Tell you what, some of them actually do!
Although Osaka is no Tokyo in terms of the services they offer for their diverse communities, they are also doing pretty well on convenience stores. If you live around Osaka University’s Toyonaka campus, you can make a visit to the Lawson located on campus. They have a sign on the entrance door that says they sell Halal products, and you will find it straight the moment you walk through those doors.
Will I face discriminatory treatments when I go out?
Tell you what – everybody has a different experience and we cannot guarantee that you will not come across one or two curious gazes, but the writer has hardly faced any discrimination all throughout her stay in Japan. She can go to the groceries, eat at any restaurant, and go anywhere without any difficulties.
In another FAQ series for international students in Japan, there are some tips to handle some questions you may be asked about your Muslim identity. The short version is, know that these stares come from a place of curiosity and not animosity. Simply answer them, ask if they want to get some coffee while you’re at it, and perhaps you can even make friends!
Where can I find Muslim communities in Osaka?
We recommend asking your friends who live nearby universities or mosques. Osaka University has a big number of Muslim students from many countries. You can try reaching out to their staff to connect you to someone who will be able to give you more information on any gatherings. If you are a fellow student, they will be happy to invite you to the Osaka Muslim Association, an organization for Muslim students at Osaka University.
If you are a worker, you can try to reach out to the mosques’ website for more information on upcoming events. Start from there and make your connections. You’ll be surprised to find out later how to spread out the Muslim communities are in Osaka. We hope you can find your brothers and sisters right away upon arrival to help you get settled in.
We hope this FAQ can ease your worries about living in Osaka. We will be releasing more FAQs in specific regions for your comfort. Let us know which region you are interested in through our Instagram and we will be sure to deliver to your requests.