Halal food is eaten by those who follow the Muslim faith. Halal refers to food that adheres to the Islamic law written in the Koran. Outside of Muslim majority countries it can be difficult to find food that is halal. Now a new website can help Muslim visitors in Japan find delicious food!
The word halal actually means “permissible” or lawful in Arabic. It widely refers to practices which are stated in the Koran but these days is mainly used to refer to the slaughter and production of foods. Other aspects of halal include certain food types and also how it is handled. No pork is allowed to be consumed, neither are byproducts of pork i.e. using stock. To be truly halal, food should be prepared in an area not contaminated by non-halal (haram) products. This means having separate storage for halal goods and separate chopping boards and knives etc. Alcohol is also not permitted in Islam so foods that have alcohol added for flavour or for technique are not allowed. In order to have a halal restaurant all these practices must be observed, which is why it can be difficult to find places which are okay to eat in.
Unlike some other Western countries which have a higher population of people who follow Islam, Japan is quite homogeneous. Therefore halal food was not always readily available, which could make it difficult for some people to visit. However times are changing and now there are many places which serve halal food in Japan, yay!
A new website has been launched by Halal Gourmet Japan to help Muslim visitors find excellent places to eat. The website is available in both Japanese and English so can be used by those who do not read Japanese. The site is really easy to use. You can search by cities or prefectures but also by food preparation methods. You can choose which aspects of halal you want at a restaurant and the site will show you where you can go. There are a surprising number of halal restaurants, especially in and around Tokyo. You can even search for places with a designated place for salat.
Hopefully this website and changing practices in Japan will make it easier for people who follow Islam to visit Japan. You can also use the website to search for vegetarian restaurants!