The other day I visited Hakone, in Kanagawa Prefecture, a famous resort town some 100 kilometers away from the Tokyo Metropolitan area. The purpose of my visit to the area was to conduct some basic survey on how potential Muslim visitors to the area could have dinner, lunch, or any other meal in the city which is popular for its hot springs and natural scenery among locals and foreigners alike. However, to my dismay, I could not find even a single hotel or restaurant which was offering Halal or even Halal-friendly menus to their customers.
On the riverside, after visiting their city ward office and local tourism agency, I started making calls to various hotels and restaurants in the vicinity to confirm whether they were serving any Halal food dishes. To my total dismay, none of them said ‘yes’. However, they told me that they could take the pork and/or wine out of the regular menu and thus serve the remaining food to their Muslim visitors. In fact, many of them had been doing the same thing whenever they received a Muslim customer who would insist on having Halal-only food.
When you visit any restaurant in Japan, please be ready for a few surprises about their understanding of what halal is and what it is not. Unfortunately, some of the restaurant employees in the country wrongly think that ham or beacon is not meat. Please tell them clearly that you DO NOT and CAN NOT eat either of them as both of them are made from pork.
So, to make sure that you are going to eat Halal ONLY in Japan, please ask the following questions. Insha Allah, I hope you should be able to get something pretty close to what a halal dish should be.
- What type of oil do they use? Salad Oil or animal oil.
- Do they use any amount of alcohol to prepare the dish you want to eat?
- Do they have any Ham or Beacon in their dishes?
- Do they have any vegetable which was not prepared by using wine
- Do they use any spices which are extracted from alcohol or pork products?
- Do they consume the same cooking utensils for cooking halal as well as haram dishes? If yes, then the food will not be halal no matter what other measures they take a to make it halal-friendly
The answers to these questions will help you make an informed decision on whether you would like to eat or dine at the restaurant in question or go somewhere else for eating something which is actually halal.