Followers of the Islamic faith are prohibited from eating certain foods such as pork and cannot consume alcohol or tobacco. Although it is easy to avoid drugs and beer, it isn’t always as simple to distinguish what contains pork or other foods which Muslims consider to be forbidden for them to consume. This can be especially difficult when traveling to a new place, away from the usual supermarkets and shops that you are used to. If you can’t read Japanese, this is especially true as you can’t check the ingredients on the box or packet.
When in Japan, Muslims have to be cautious when they are looking to buy foods and drinks. It can sometimes be difficult to tell at first glance what might contain something you’re not allowed to eat. However, there are actually many great food and drink products out there in Japan, and nowadays, there is a rise in halal food stalls in the country, such as the Siddique Restaurants and kebab stalls, which are ubiquitous in Tokyo, especially. You will also find many halal restaurants all over Japan.
Convenience stores, called “konbini” or “conbini” locally, are abundant and sell many drinks, snacks, “bento” meals, and daily products. Sometimes, when you just want to grab a snack, a local konbini is the best option. So what about food sold at these convenience stores such as 7 Eleven, Lawson, or Family Mart? Are they okay for Muslims? The good news is that there are many, many items sold at Japanese “konbinis” that are perfectly halal! Here are several items that Muslims can consume when they are traveling in Japan, including drinks, savory food, and desserts.
Calpis is a unique and must-try drink if you visit Japan. It is a very popular beverage with local people, and it can be found in all convenience stores as either Calpis Soda or Calpis Water, which are carbonated and juice, respectively. Just like many households in the west always have a bottle of Coca Cola close at hand, most Japanese households have Calpis stocked in their fridge next to the staple green tea and oolong tea! Give this tasty yogurt-flavored drink a try next time you visit a konbini.
This “Salt and Fruit” bottled drink is a sports drink and can be found in vending machines and convenience stores all over Japan. You may find it a bit weird and think “won’t it be salty?” or “is it really going to be tasty?”. Trust me, you are going to be surprised! It is really good and refreshing and actually not really salty at all. You may find yourself having seconds of this tasty beverage.
You will also find Pocari Sweat and Aquarius, sports drinks that specialize in replacing electrolytes and keeping you hydrated. It’s great to buy one of these when you are out on a hot day.
There are also various safe fruit juices to try such as fruit and veg mix, grape juice, orange juice, apple juice, and more. Various kinds of soda and Japanese tea such as oolong tea, jasmine tea, green tea, and roasted green tea are also available and are okay for you to drink.
The soba noodles that you can buy in a convenience store include instant soba. If you want to be sure you have the halal version, make sure the packaging is the same as in the picture above. There is vegetable tempura included, which is delicious and deep fried vegetables that go well with these soba noodles. These noodles are very filling, so you won’t need to buy much more than this if you want to feel full.
Onigiri, or rice balls, are popular snacks that come in a variety of flavors and sizes. You can easily find them in any convenience store as they are many people’s favorite snack or quick breakfast on the go. You can opt for seafood options including salmon or tuna, vegetable, or plum.
When you want to buy something and you are unsure of it is halal or not, try asking the seller at the cashier if there is any emulsifiers or animal products included by asking “nyuu kazai ga haitteimasu ka?” (is there any emulsifier in this?) or “doubutsu no shokuhin ga haitteimasu ka?” (are there any animal products in this?).
The word for alcohol is “osake” and the word for pork in Japanese is “buta niku”. If you want to explain that you cannot eat these, say “(osake/buta niku) wa dame nan desu”.
This roll cake is absolutely delicious and popular among women. It tastes even better when it has been kept in the fridge before eating it! It is not too sweet, which is perfect if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth but want to eat a tasty treat. The cake is very spongy, and when you eat it, it really melts in your mouth! This roll cake can be found in a 7-Eleven convenience store.
There is a variety of cakes available at different convenience stores featuring flavors from chocolate to strawberry to matcha green tea. Keep at eye out for these delicious treats, which certainly do not contain pork or alcohol!
Caramel Ice Cream
This Haagen-Dazs ice cream (caramel flavor only) is the best halal option besides matcha green tea ice cream for Muslims in Japan. The ice cream is actually available in other countries as well. But in Japan, Haagen-Dazs is not considered to be too pricey.
Again, be very careful that you buy the caramel flavor as the other flavors contain non-halal ingredients.
For 140 yen you can get mochi rice cake and ice cream! In one pack, you will find two mochi ice cream domes which make perfect little treats on a warm day. This snack is especially recommended, as it also lets you have a taste of mochi, which is a typical Japanese snack made of rice.
As you can see, there are plenty of choices in Japan’s convenience stores for those of us that only eat halal, so don’t hesitate to come over on a trip and discover all the country has to offer without feeling like you are missing out on anything!