Where EAST meets the Northwest
MOBILE MOSQUE. A staff member operates the Mobile Mosque during an unveiling
event for the mosque on wheels that has a capacity of up to 50 people, at Toyota
Stadium in Toyota, western Japan. As Japan prepares to host visitors from around
the world for the Summer Olympics in 2020, a Tokyo sports and cultural events
company has created a mosque on wheels that its head hopes will make Muslim
visitors feel at home. (Mobile Mosque Executive Committee via AP)
From The Asian Reporter, V28, #15 (August 6, 2018), page 7.
Tokyo company debuts Mobile Mosque ahead of 2020 Olympics
By Nicola Shannon
The Associated Press
TOKYO — A large white and blue truck pulls up outside a stadium in central
Japan and slowly expands into a place of worship.
Welcome to the Mobile Mosque.
As Japan prepares to host visitors from around the world for the 2020 Summer
Olympics, a Tokyo sports and cultural events company has created a mosque on
wheels that its head hopes will make Muslim visitors feel at home.
Yasuharu Inoue, the CEO of Yasu Project, said the possibility that there
might not be enough mosques for Muslim visitors in 2020 is alarming for a
country that considers itself part of the international community. His Mobile
Mosques could travel to different Olympic venues as needed.
"As an open and hospitable country, we want to share the idea of
omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) with Muslim people," he said in a recent
The first Mobile Mosque was unveiled outside Toyota Stadium, a J-League
soccer venue in Toyota city, which is also the headquarters of the car company
with the same name.
The back of the modified 25-ton truck flipped up to reveal an entrance and
then the side slid out, doubling the width of the truck. The 515-square-foot
room can accommodate 50 people.
Muslim guests prayed inside the mosque, which includes outdoor taps and a
washing area for pre-worship cleansing.
Indonesian students who were victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami also
participated in the debut ceremony.
"The Mobile Mosque is very important to Muslim people such as Japanese people
or tourists, Muslim tourists who visit Japan," said 14-year-old Nur Azizah. "I
want to show my friends."
An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 Muslims live in Japan.
Tatsuya Sakaguchi, a Japanese guest, expressed hope that the Mobile Mosque
would help open people’s minds worldwide.
"Looking in from the outside at the people in the mosque, they looked very
happy," said Sakaguchi, the representative director of an Osaka retail company.
Inoue said the inspiration for the project came to him on a trip to Qatar
four years ago.
Initially, the project organizers plan to target international sporting
events both in Japan and overseas. Inoue said he hopes the project will do more
than fill a gap in religious infrastructure.
"Going forward, I would be so happy if people from Indonesia, Malaysia,
Africa, the Middle East, and, for example, refugees who are coming from Syria
are able to use the mosque as a tool to promote world peace," he said.
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