This Ramadan being our first experience in Japan, we figured we’d visit the mosque for prayer (we couldn’t stay for the late night prayer though, for fear that we might miss the last train) and eat free food at the largest mosque in Japan, Tokyo Jamii or Tokyo Camii mosque (and Turkish cultural centre) located in Yoyogi-Uehara, Shibuya. We went there twice during Ramadan – one just my sister and I while the second time we brought our non-Muslim dormmate who wanted the experience and mostly the free food – and once on Eid-ul-Fitr.
To go from Takadanobaba station, we had to take Yamanote line and change to Odakyu line trains, and then walk a little bit to reach the mosque. The mosque was beautifully designed by a Turkish architect, but although it is the biggest there is in Japan, the size is small compared to mosques in other parts of the world where there are a lot of Muslims. And unlike in Malaysia, there is no parking space nearby so it is advisable for one to take the trains instead of driving to get there.
The best part about the mosque is the fact that it gives tours and talks with Q&A to introduce the Islamic culture and religion to even non-Muslims who are interested to see and know. They are conducted by multilingual Turks who speak Turkish, English and Japanese fluently. Some of the staff are even able to speak in Malay Language and Hindi, so that was pretty impressive.
As is often the case during Ramadan, there would always be free food provided, and even those who went there for prayer would offer dates and chocolates to others to break fast lightly with prior to eating a proper meal. Since the mosque we went to belonged to the Turks, the food provided were Turkish meals as can be seen in the photos below:
On Eid ul Fitr itself, my sister and I went to the mosque for the special morning prayer in our celebration dresses although it was raining. There were more people than could fit the mosque so they had two prayers so everyone who came could say their prayers. We had to queue in the rain and join the second prayer as we did not come earlier. Luckily the queue system in Japan is top-notch anywhere you go, so you need not worry about people cutting in lines or pushing each other to get inside.
While waiting for the prayer to begin, I saw a lot of interesting things. For example, everyone there was a Muslim, but came from different places, spoke different languages and wore different styles of celebration clothes. It reminded me much of Mecca and Medina, only the difference is that the language everyone used to speak to those of different backgrounds was Japanese. There was also a huge family with a lot of kids but the mothers truly discipline their kids so as to not bother those around, which I appreciate and commend, particularly because such considerate people are hard to find these days.
It was definitely an interesting experience, and we would have liked to stay for the food but we already made prior engagement with our dormmate to go to Malay-chan restaurant in Ikebukuro to eat Malay food.
It was only when we were eating there that we overheard the staff talking to an Indonesian customer that the embassies did after all hold gatherings (which I mistakenly thought they did not). According to them, Malaysian Embassy’s gathering is usually okay, Indonesian’s is often overly-packed but Brunei’s the best because they have more funds than they have citizens in Japan. I suppose that is where we will be heading to next year, if by any chance that we are still here when Raya/ Eid comes.
Before I end this post, I’d like to wish all Muslims out there Eid Mubarak! I hope you had a good one. For those who get holidays for this celebration, enjoy your holidays and if you’re Malaysian, don’t forget to eat on my behalf and go to rumah terbuka (open house)!