The number of Muslims residing in Japan has increased in the past few years. Compared to 2008, when I first came to Japan, Halal foods which I could consume were very limited. Nowadays, halal foods are easier to purchase. You just need to know where to buy and how to find them. This is a huge improvement for Muslims in Japan.
If you are new to halal foods, or still trying to understand what halal food is, you can read through this post. Or, if you are a Muslim who just started residing in Japan, or have a Muslim friend who needs the information, this post might also help you (or your friend) to survive!
In this post, I would like to share some tips on how to find halal foods in Japan. Let’s get started!
The numbers of made-in-Japan food or imported goods containing a halal label are increasing in stores. Here are some examples you could find.
One of my favorite shops to purchase from both online and offline. You can visit the shop at Shin-Okubo station in Tokyo, or if you live far, you can purchase online. They provide a free delivery if you buy a large number of items. Check out their website
b. Ninomiya Japan
Ninomiya is a company in Japan that sells halal meat as well as imported products. There are lots of halal foods you can purchase from there, go and check the website .From there you can view the catalog and also the access information to reach the shop
c. Halal Bakery Liaison
At the end of 2014, this halal bakery opened in Minato-ku, Tokyo. Though I have not yet seen it for myself, my friends have and they think this place is great!
Please note: As of 2017, Halal Bakery Liaison is no longer open.
d. Halal corner at LAOX-Akihabara
The halal souvenir corner at LAOX- Akihabara has been a hit in halal food posts for a few months. It is a great destination for tourists who wanted to buy halal souvenirs as a gift from Japan.
e. Gyomu Super
Japanese chain supermarkets like Gyomu Super contain some halal foods – both raw and packaged goods. They are stamped with the halal logo so you can be sure when you buy it. It’s also available at an affordable price. If you have this supermarket near you, better go and check them out! They are all across Japan.
f. Imported Goods Stores
In Tokyo, there are many imported goods store. Such as Kaldi, Mitsukoshi, and others. They provide good overseas food as well as halal food in some of the stores. If you are feeling homesick, these shops might cure you for a while.
There are a some ingredients that could be identified whether it is halal or haram just by reading its ingredients. Usually, these are the ingredients you need to be aware of:
a. Emulsifier (乳化剤 – nyuukazai)
This is the most common ingredient found in food and drinks. Though not all emulsifier is haram. Those derived from plants or soybeans are consumable. Be sure to check beforehand!
b. Shortening (ショートニング – shōtoningu)
Usually found in bread or biscuit-type snacks. Shortening can also be either animal or plant based. So make sure the one you are eating is from plant based material.
c. Gelatin (ゼラチン – zerachin), Lard (ラ-ド – raado), pig oil (豚油 – ton’yu), animal oil (動物油 -doubutsu abura)
Gelatin is found mostly in jelly snacks, sometimes in chewing gum, and even in bread. It is also found in desserts such as ice cream. Lard is usually found in packaged products, even fishcake sometimes contains lard. Pig oil is seldom written, usually the term animal is used instead. If the oil used is plant based (植物油 – shokubutsu abura) then it is safe to consume.
d. Butter (バター), Baking powder (ベキングパウダー)
Though butter comes from milk, which is fine to eat, it might still be best to be careful these two. The ingredients used might be derived from animal products.
e. Alcohol (アルコール)
Alcohol is usually stated in the ingredients of drinks, sauces, and dressing.
f. Sake, Mirin (酒, みりん)
Many Japanese dishes are made with these two types of alcoholic liquid. They are also used them in processed food though after cooking with these, the alcohol usually gets evaporated. It’s better to avoid them if you want to be extra careful.
g. Animal based products (pork, beef, chicken,etc.)
As we know any animal based as long as it is not halal, it will be haram to be consumed, even if it is in the form of stock (だし – dashi) or consommé (konsome コンソメ). Keep an eye out for these kanji: pork (豚肉), beef (牛肉), chicken (鶏肉). Though most seafood is acceptable to eat, be careful of mirin and sake as sometimes they are used for processing.
Sometimes, without any indication on the label, some food is given the last touch with a glaze of pig oil or lard based ingredients.
Don’t be afraid, it might seem like after all the ingredients are listed, that you can’t eat anything sold in grocery stores. Keep reading and you will be happy to know that there is plenty of food that you can eat!
If it is hard for you to read ingredients, and you have difficulty memorizing the katakana or kanji, you can also check reviews on halal food. The easiest access to these reviews is by checking the facebook pages or accounts of people who review halal products. Such as;
- Halal Japan
- Halal Foods in Japan
- Halal in Japan
- HMJ – Halal Media Japan
HMJ also has an apps you can use like “Halal Navi”. You can just search in your app store and download it for free. There are also websites with tons of information on delicious halal restaurants as well as masjid and prayer spaces.
Sometimes, you can also send a direct message to the above-mentioned accounts and ask them to help you to check on your food and drinks. They will make an effort to call or write to the customer service centers for you. The information you find will also be valuable for other Muslims too, so share if you can!
This may be a last-resort option if you have the capability to do so. If the Japanese language is not difficult for you, go ahead!
Last but not least, if you are done with all the tips above and still can not find the proper information, you can just ask the staff in restaurants or bakeries. They will answer you with the most truthful information they can give. So, don’t be afraid to ask.
Hopefully, this information can help others residing in or visiting Japan.
Enjoy your halal food!