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Is Japan 'The country with no Muslims' as many people think?

Updated: May 28

Islam has been in Japan more than what people would have expect.

Japan is one of the island countries in East Asia, located in the Pacific ocean. Its population was estimated to be 126,880 million is 2015.

The major religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shinto. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture and Buddhism was imported from the mainland in the 6th century. Islam is a minority religion in Japan with only 100,000 Muslims, 90% of which are foreigners residents and only 10% are pure Japanese.

History of Islam in Japan

Islam in Japan has been existing for many years, more than what people would have expect. It started in the 1870s when Islam was introduced to Japanese people as a part of Western religious thought. At the same time, the life of Muhammad was translated into Japanese which helped Islam to spread and reach more Japanese people.

Japan | The land without Muslims?

In the early 1900s the real Muslim community started to exist when hundreds of Tatar Muslim refugees came to Japan from Russia and Central Asia during the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution during World War I.

The Tatars are a Turkic people living in Asia and Europe. The migration of this group helped many Japanese to understand and convert to Islam and build their communities across the country.

In 1958, the first direct translation of the Quran from Arabic to Japanese was completed by Toshihiko Izutsu who was professor emeritus at Keio University. This was important for Japanese people to understand Islam.

Kobe Mosque

Kobe, which is known for its multicultural population, is a city on Osaka Bay in central Japan located on the southern side of the main island of Honshu.

The Muslims of Kobe who were a mix of Indians and Tatars formed their own society in 1928 and they built the first mosque in Japan in 1935 known as Kobe Mosque.

The construction of this mosque was financed by some donations that has been collected by The Islamic Committee of Kobe.

Tokyo Mosque

Tokyo is the capital and the largest city in Japan located on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu.

In 1938, Tokyo mosque which is the second mosque in Japan was build by the Tatar migrants who were the largest Muslim ethnic group in Japan.

Later on, The Presidency of Religious Affairs of Turkey demolished and rebuilt the mosque and re-opened it again in 2000 for people to worship.

Nagoya Mosque

Nagoya is the capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture and one of Japan major ports located on the pacific coast on central Honshu.

The first mosque in Nagoya was built by the Turk Tatar migrants in 1937, known as The Nagoya Muslim Mosque. It was two storied wooden and mortared frame house built on 40 squire meter.

The first floor was used to worship and the second floor was a school for children. In 1945 the mosque was burnt down by an air-raid of American and since then there was no mosque in Nagoya until Nagoya mosque was built in 1998. These are not the only mosques in Japan.

There are many other mosques in different cities around the country. A list of the 99 mosques and prayer rooms and its locations in Japan, can be found HERE.

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