Located just out of Tokyo is the Gunma Prefecture is only a one and a half hour train ride away. This destination caters to a lot of nature, mountains, ski resorts, Japanese hot springs and a very local style of tourism.
Most visitors will head to Gunma for the authentic Onsen experience or Japanese hot springs, and you will find some of Japan’s most famous hot spring resorts in this prefecture, with a total of over 200 onsens found throughout Gunma.
However, with the trend of nature tourism rising, more travellers are now exploring the beautiful mountains in Gunma. And since they are here, the culture and history are also one of the other highlights worth exploring.
For the Muslim travellers, Gunma is highly recommended, namely if you are travelling as a couple, group or family, there are a number of Muslim friendly hotels and restaurants available here.
You must also know that a majority of the Halal or Muslim restaurants here are mainly Indian, Pakistani or Nepali operated. Only a handful of pure Japanese restaurants which are Halal are found in Gunma.
View of Maebashi City, the capital of Gunma Prefecture. Photo by Wikipedia.
Being the capital of Gunma, most visitors will somehow make this the entry point into the prefecture, and it is here where you can find the most Muslim friendly places.
The solo Kaguwashi restaurant in Gunma.
This is one of the highly recommended and fully Halal restaurants in Gunma and located in Maebashi City. With certification of 100% Halal, this restaurant serves ramen, tandoori karaage chicken, gyoza and a number of other Japanese dishes.
All ingredients are freshly supplied plus the owners are proud of their unique and special Halal-only menu, which caters to the growing number of Muslim tourist to Gunma Prefecture.
Some of the interesting Halal Ramen choices from Kaguwashi.
Kaguwashi Halal Ramen
Address: 26-11, Utsuboimachi, Maebashi-shi, Gunma
Hours: 11.00 AM to 00:00 AM
Bangladesh Indian Curry Restaurant.
Bangladesh Indian Curry – Gunma Prefecture Chain Restaurants
This is a chain restaurant group which operates Halal eateries all over Gunma Prefecture. The concept of dining in and take out is also one of their specialities, and one of the main attractions of this restaurant chain is that you can choose the level of spiciness of the curries offered.
Bangladesh Indian Curry also offers a pretty complete menu, where you can choose from a set menu or an a la carte menu, and the menu looks very impressive. For curries, they have six types of curry and five types of curry rice available.
Some of the unique curry dishes offered.
And for drinks, they have a great selection of Lassi, coffee and tea, apart from your regular canned soft drinks. This Halal restaurant chain is not to be missed when you are anywhere in Gunma Prefecture. Just look out for the brand Bangladesh Indian Curry.
They have outlets in the towns and cities around Gunma which are;
- Ota City
Bangladesh Indian Curry
Add: 2-16-5 Tonyamachi, Maebashi-shi
Hours: 11.00 AM to 11.00 PM
This city of 200,000 people is well known for their Japanese silk products and offers some interesting Halal restaurants or stores. Isesaki is also about 50 minutes by train from Maebashi City.
The exterior of the Halal shop in Isesaki City.
This is one of the rare and unique Halal establishments found in Isesaki, where they double as a restaurant and also a supermarket selling fresh and raw Halal products. In the restaurant section, you will find more Indian and Pakistani food choices, which cater to the community of Muslim workers in Gunma.
The supermarket sells meats like beef, chicken and lamb, while you can get other general ingredients which are all Halal. This works best for those who plan to cook their own meals when in Japan. Also, the restaurant has a small prayer room for anyone who wants to perform their prayers.
I have to warn you that this place is super casual, and may not look appealing, but when you are here and need Halal food, this is one of the options.
Some of the Halal products sold at Al Modina in Isesaki.
Address: 331-7, Yogecho, Isesaki-shi, Gunma
Sunday – 10:00-15:00, 17:00-21:00
Monday – CLOSE
Tuesday to Thursday – 10:00-15:00, 17:00-21:00
Friday – 17:00 to 21:00
Saturday – 10:00-15:00, 17:00-21:00
The front of Amin Halal restaurant and Store in Gunma.
Amin Halal Restaurant
A mixed Halal restaurant serving Indian and South Asian food, where you can get the common Indian food dishes like bread, curries and rice dishes. Nothing fancy and it is a common straight forward restaurant where you go in, order, eat and go out. The restaurant is very close to the Sakaimachi Station.
There is also the Amin Halal Store, which sells Halal food products including dried goods, meats and many other items. If you are planning on camping or budget travel, this is a good place to stock up on Halal food supplies.
Amin Halal Restaurant and Store
Add: 762-7 Sakai Isesaki-shi Gunma-ken
Hours: 11.00 AM to 9.00 PM
Additional: No credit cards accepted, cash only
The signboard in English and Japanese.
Taj Indian Restaurant
If you are looking for something perhaps a little different from the usual Indian and Pakistani food, Taj Indian Restaurant in Isesaki also serves Nepali food, which is Halal. This is also another simple and basic restaurant where you go in to eat and then carry on your journey.
The kind of Halal food you can get at Taj Indian Restaurant in Isesaki.
Taj Indian Restaurant
Add: 14-13 Otemachi, Isesaki-shi
Hours: 11.00 AM to 10.00 PM
Located east about two hours by train from Maebashi is the city of Tatebayashi. This small city is well known for Azalea Hill Park and Morinji Temple. The beautiful Tobu Treasure Gardens are also quite popular in the spring and summer. Muslim visitors coming here will be pleased to know that there are Halal restaurants found in Tatebayashi.
Dosti Restaurant and Coffee Shop in Tatebayashi.
This Indian and Pakistani restaurant serves some interesting biryani dishes, bread and curries. For those wanting a full meal, this is the place to visit. They also offer to take away for those on the go. This is also a simple and easy place to eat and go.
Add: 894-1 1F, Oyacho, Tatebayashi-shi
Hours: 12.30 PM to 8.00 PM
Additional Info: Cash only, no credit cards
Outside of the Lasani Restaurant in Tatebayashi.
Another mix of Indian and Pakistan restaurant serving an assortment of rice, bread and curries. This is a simple and quick restaurant that also sells some groceries. When you dine here, it feels as if you are dining in a grocery shop, and they also serve Halal barbecue. It is best to call the restaurant to see if they are open, as the owners have a tendency of closing for long periods.
Add: 885 1F, Oyacho, Tatebayashi-shi
Hours: 11.30 AM to 10.00 PM
Front of Shiraz Restaurant in Tomioka City.
Another small city that is about one and a half hours train ride west of Maebashi. Tomioka is known for their silk industry, the Nukisaki Shinto Shrine, Gunma Safari Park and a museum which highlights Gunma’s natural history.
Shiraz Restaurant Tomioka
This is one of the few Halal restaurants found in Tomioka which serves a fusion of Western and Persian food. They are child-friendly, and the curries are mild, which is suitable for those who cannot take spicy food. Overall, you can expect Iranian, Persian, Mediterranean and Western dishes which are Halal.
Some of the interesting Halal dishes from Shiraz Restaurant.
One of the highlights here is that on weekends or special days, Shiraz has traditional Persian music performances in the restaurant, which can be quite interesting. If you are a fan of kebabs, this is one of the places to get them. They also offer to take away.
Add: 49 Tomioka Tomioka-shi Gunma-ken
Hours: 10.00 AM to 10.00 PM
Map showing where Gunma Prefecture is located.
How To Go To Gunma Prefecture?
From Tokyo – There are direct train services to Maebashi in Gunma, and the fastest train takes you approximately 90 minutes one way. Other slower trains take about two hours one way and are cheaper than the direct express trains.
For family or group travellers, you can also rent a car or van a self-drive to Maebashi, which takes about two hours to drive one way. This does not include stops along the way, hence I will put it at about three hours drive to Gunma from Tokyo.
From Osaka – You can take a train from Osaka to Gunma, but it will be a five-hour journey, passing Tokyo, so this would be a great option for those wanting to see multiple cities in one trip. Meaning you start in Osaka, visit Tokyo, and then Gunma.
From Nagoya – A train will take you three and a half hours one way from Nagoya Station to Maebashi in Gunma. This train journey also transits at Tokyo Station, before changing trains to Maebashi.
The beautiful onsen at Kinakami in Gunma. Photo Matcha Japan.
For the Muslim travellers visiting anywhere in Japan, it is not that difficult to find Halal food, all you need to do is look for Indian, Pakistani, Lebanese, Egyptian, Nepali or Iranian restaurants, and they will all be Halal.
Personally, there have been many Halal restaurants found all over Japan, and this dates back over 30 years ago. I used to work in Tokyo back in 1990, and during my two years there, I had already encountered many Halal restaurants in my work area.
When I use to explore around Tokyo, I found many Indian or Middle Eastern restaurants, hence only in the last five years or so, more Japanese establishments have decided to move into the Halal tourism section.
This was something new for many Japanese owned restaurants, who wanted to tap the growing number of Muslim tourist into Japan. Southeast Asia is one of the largest contributors to Muslim tourist visiting Japan, and slowly, more prefectures are seeing the potential in this.