Travelling to the land of the rising sun is exciting, especially when you are travelling there for the first time. In fact, the number of tourist to Japan is increasing each year, and this includes travellers from Muslim countries. As a first-timer to Japan for a Muslim, it is perfectly normal to feel a little anxious about how to get around the country and adhere to the Muslim lifestyle at the same time.
While you may not know how and where to start as a Muslim traveller, I have some suggestions the would help you plan your trip to Japan. Now, let’s have a look at how you can begin!
1. Start with Homework
Well, the same old rule from school applies to travel! A good starting point is specifying your travel locations and activities, and then research on Muslim-friendly amenities in that particular area. Most first-time visitors would travel to major cities like Tokyo and Osaka, which is not difficult to find amenities such as mosques, Muslim-friendly restaurants, services, and cultural activities. If you are travelling to less touristy prefectures, do anticipate fewer amenities and more preparation on your part, especially for food.
Besides deciding your travel locations and planning activities, getting to know your arrival and departure airport is important too. Most airports in Japan do provide a room for prayer and washing up, so it is pretty hassle-free. There may also be halal souvenir speciality stores, which would be useful for last-minute shopping. Information about this is usually found on the airport’s website.
2. Technology is Your Friend
Technology is a your greatest lifesaver. For directions and using the public transport, do download a good app such as Google Maps and Japan Rail Map. Google Maps is helpful to pinpoint your destinations and Japan Rail Map comes with a handy rail schedule for reference.
Besides that, there is also free Muslim-friendly apps like Halal Navi which is highly popular as it provides information on halal restaurants and mosques. You could easily bookmark a destination for later reference, and even read restaurant reviews and halal tips from other Muslim users. Besides Halal Navi, another app you could use is Guru Navi, which recommends halal restaurants.
Japan Travel Apps
3. Prep Yourselves with Japanese Words and Phrases
There are a couple of ways you could do this, using an app or the old school method. For apps, download the Japanese app that runs on both Andriod and iOS or the imiwa app which is only available on iOS. Besides using it as a dictionary, it can also translate words.
However, I do not recommend relying on apps when it comes to translating sentences and it is often not a hundred percent accurate. For Muslim travellers, you could memorise a few survival phrases that can be used in restaurants, hotels and basic communication with the locals. Here are some useful and important phrases that you should learn.
Moushiwake gozaimasenga, watashiwa butaniku wo taberaremasen. Toriniku, gyuniku, sakanawa daijyoubu desu.
I’m sorry, I cannot eat pork. Chicken, beef and fish are okay.
Kono misewa, nonpooku menyuuwa arimasuka?
Does this store have a non-pork menu?
Toire wa doko desu ka?
Where’s the toilet?
Thanks to the Japanese government’s effort to make travel more convenient for Muslim patrons, signboards at airport and stations do have English translation, and some restaurant and hotels made adjustments to create a more Muslim-friendly environment. Travel in Japan became much easier today.
4. Get Good Wi-Fi Connection
To ensure you could use your apps on-the-go, I recommend getting a stable and good Wi-Fi connection. Renting a pocket Wi-Fi router is a good option as you could connect multiple devices to it and it is lightweight and portable. I recommend booking your pocket Wi-Fi online prior to your travel to Japan so that you could avoid ensure the availability and avoid queuing up to rent one. When you make your booking online, you could even arrange it to be collected from your arrival airport.
Alternatively, you could download the Japan Connected Free Wi-Fi app, which provides Internet connection to tourists across the country. Most major areas in Japan would have no problem, but the connection may be weaker in non-central cities. Although this is a free app, it requires you to register using your email account or social network account.
Learn more about other Wi-Fi options:
Wi-Fi & Internet Access in Japan
In short, if you put aside some time to plan your travel journey and the activities, your first-time travel to Japan would be a breeze. Now, travelling to Japan sounds much easier, isn’t it?