Written by Jahangir Mujahed-san

”Assalamu alaikum”.
Hello everyone, my name is Jahangir Mujahed, and I am the CEO of Pran Pone.
I am operating a restaurant called “HALAL Italian Restaurant & Café Pran Pone” in Ekoda, Nerima-ku. I am a Muslim from Bangladesh who came to Japan 30 years ago in 1985. I would like to take this time to share with you about the environment surrounding halal, both back when I first came to Japan as well as the present, and also my passion toward halal food.

I left my country about 30 years ago due to my rebellious attitude toward my father who was in a police force. It was pretty much a run-away type of leave with my ambitious desire of “I am going to make accomplishment so much bigger than my father!”
After embarking on dangerous travel throughout several countries, I randomly decided to stop by Japan since at that time, it was easy to enter into Japan due to the country’s free-port policy. Upon encountering Japan for the first time, the impression I had of Japan was that it was a dream come true country that possessed serenity, sanitary city infrastructure and full of people who are as nice as angels. Since I fell in love with Japan through such experience, I decided to relocate to Japan. Although I am here today thanks to all of the support I got from various Japanese people, I still remember vividly that when it came to food, I went through a lot of struggle.

During that time in Japan, I don’t think anyone in Japan new the term “halal”, or at least among people around me.
Since Japan back then did not have too much relationship with Islamic countries, it was only natural for most people to be unfamiliar with Islam or Muslim people in general. So it was pretty much given back then that halal food just weren’t available in Japan, regardless of where I went. So banana and eggs were pretty much all I had for meals during that period.
But since I could only handle that kind of lifestyle for so long, I reluctantly started to eat “Haram” (food prohibited to eat by Muslims) food for my daily living.

Slowly but steadily, especially within last few years, the understanding toward Muslims and Islamic religion have started to spread in Japan. I think one of the big contributors for this spread is the recent year’s increasing trend of Muslim visitors and Muslims residents coming to Japan. There are a lot of Muslims who have positive view toward Japan. One such reason can be attributed to the fact that Japanese traditional lifestyle, culture and a way of thinking are very similar to the religious creed of Muslim people. One of the things I’ve noticed is that moral obligations such as “this is right thing to do, this is wrong thing to do” stipulated in the moral code of Islamic religion, is being observed by Japanese people as a matter-of-fact way of living through generation after generation.

For Muslims like me, this kind of Japanese people’s way of living is something that must be treated with a great sense of respect. Further, Japan possesses various proud enrichment of life such as washoku and traditional culture that are all so very enticing to the Muslims. Because of these reasons, the Muslim people who says “I want to go visit Japan!”, “I want to live in Japan” are constantly increasing. Another amazing thing about Japan is that because of its amazing religious harmonization of Buddhism and Shintoism, the country is very accepting of other kinds of religions, along with taking a position of allowing integration of culture and people of other countries.

Because of such stance, in recent years, I am seeing an increasing number of Japanese who are desiring to provide an environment that can cater toward Muslims, so that they can have more comfortable peace-of-mind stay. So I am seeing more and more halal corresponding restaurants, hotels, hair solon, worship, etc. being built in recent years.
I am very grateful for such recent turn out, since I could not have imagined this in my wildest dream when I first came to Japan. With that said, it is also true that there are still a lot of Muslims who are experiencing a certain degree of inconvenience living in Japan.

There are also many Muslims (including Muslims already living in Japan) who are feeling that although they want to come visit the country and experience it’s amazing culture/traditions/etc. and experience the heartwarming people of Japan, they are reluctant to do so because of their concern for food/worship/etc. situation. For the future growth and global expansion of Japan, I believe it will become extremely important for Japan to be able to make connection with Muslim countries.
There are going to be a wave of foreign tourists visiting Japan in 2020 for the Tokyo Olympic.

Under such amazing opportunity of gaining attention from Muslims with population of 1.6 billion people from around the world, it would be such a shame if these people bypass visiting Japan due to reasons such as “I really want to go see the Olympic but because of food concern, I think I will pass..”. When looking at it from the angle of “Omotenashi” spirit of Japan, I think we can all agree that this kind of turn out goes against the principle of such spirit. As a word of additional caution, the population of Japan is expected to further decrease in the future. In corresponding to the rapid increase of aging society, the country is going to need a lot of helping hands for its elderly care. I believe it is to the benefit of Japan for many Muslims to reside and work in this country so that they can contribute toward the country’s future economy.

When defining “halal”, it is important to understand that for Muslims, it is not just about food, but it is about “lifestyle” in general. In constructing economic relationship with people who grew up in such Muslim countries, I believe the “halal” issue is something that cannot be overlooked or be avoided. I believe it is important to engage in halal incorporation in various social structures of Japan with cooperative effort of both government and private sectors.

In striving toward turning Japan into a type of country that can proudly invite Muslims from around the world by preparing halal corresponding environment, the first important step is to create “omotenashi” environment toward 2020 Olympics. It is my firm conviction that achieving big success through such effort in gaining favorable impression among Muslims to think of Japan as “If we go to Japan, we can have safe and secure living arrangement!” is of a vital necessity. I also believe that such initiative can only be achieved in a country like Japan where people have flexible, humble and accepting way of thinking.

to VOL.2

Italian Casual Dining Pran Pone

11:30-14:30 Dinner 17:00-22:00(L.O.)
1-9-5 Toyotamaue, Nerima-ku, Tokyo
Halal Gourmet Japan


Jahangir Mujahed
Jahangir Mujahed

Pran Pone CEO
Jahangir Mujahed

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