Are there mosques in Japan

Muslims as touristsIslam fair in Japan

Unfamiliar sounds accompany the Muslim fashion show in Tokyo. It sounds and looks Indonesian. "The First Modest Fashion Show" shows designer fashion from Islamic countries: chic and chic at the same time, "modest".

"We would like to convey something to the Japanese about Islamic culture so that they can become familiar with it," says Shinya Yokoyama, one of the organizers of the fair. On the catwalk, a Malay woman shows the Japanese audience how to fashionably drape a hijab, a Muslim headscarf.

Shinya Yokoyama: "The Japanese know almost nothing about Muslims because the media reports almost nothing about them. There is great interest. When two Japanese journalists were murdered by IS in Syria two years ago, people streamed into the mosque here in Tokyo, to find out what kind of religion it is. That's the way the Japanese are! Very curious! "

Muslims as wealthy tourists

The organizers naturally also want to use this curiosity economically. At an accompanying seminar it can be learned that Muslims spend 150 billion dollars a year as tourists, in 2020 it should be 200 billion. For Japan to get a slice of it, it has to open up. Must learn about the customs and habits of Muslims: what prayer means to them, or what "halal" means:

"We produce Kobe beef, but we slaughter the animals according to Islamic regulations, which means halal," says Lee Jong Ho, a Korean among the 80 exhibitors at this fair. He is not a Muslim himself, but people who can slaughter professionally work in his slaughterhouse. Is it worth it?

"We are expecting a lot of guests from Islamic countries at the Olympic Games. And we would like to export our famous Kobe meat to Islamic countries. That will be good business," explains Lee.

Uighurin sells seaweed

It is a truly colorful and international event with exotic tips. A plump lady in her national costume explains: "I am Uighur, we are Muslims from China and we sell health products. Creams made from algae that have been deposited in our desert for 300 million years when the sea was still there."

Four happy women with colorful headscarves turn out to be exchange students from Indonesia. One wants to become an electrical engineer, the other is studying mechanical engineering. Everyone feels comfortable in Japan. Two of them definitely want to return to their homeland, the other two prefer not to. They admire the technology in Japan and the security in which one lives here.

Reduce distrust

Nevertheless, they will not be allowed to work here. Japan is very strict about immigrants. There are only exceptions for nurses and geriatric nurses if they come from Indonesia, the Philippines or, more recently, from Vietnam. They must take exams in Japanese and in their subject. There are currently 1535 people in total, a joke based on demand. Japan is considered xenophobic. With just 27 asylum seekers, the country sets a record worldwide. This fair will not be able to change the law. But it could be a start to reduce mutual distrust.

"The exchange is good for both sides," says one of the students from Indonesia: "We Muslims find the food and clothes we want in Japan, and the Japanese open up to us. They are very nice and friendly when we do they first got to know us. And that is happening more and more now. "