New Hakodate restaurant map shows halal options

A sample image of the Hakodate Guide Map for Muslim visitors.
PHOTO: The Japan News/Asia News Network

HAKODATE, HOKKAIDO - A map introducing restaurants offering halal options in Hakodate was recently created by a group including a Hokkaido government agency and distributed from March.

Called the Hakodate Guide Map for Muslim Visitors, the publication is aimed at responding to the needs of Muslim tourists who eat halal food. The map caters to a wide range of people, not only Muslims who do not eat pork or other ingredients, but also vegetarians.

The Oshima General Subprefectural Bureau participated in the compilation of the map. According to the bureau, an increasing number of tourists from Malaysia and Indonesia, both Muslim-majority nations, have visited the area under the bureau's jurisdiction in recent years.

In fiscal 2017, about 29,000 Malaysian and Indonesian people visited the area, accounting for about 5 per cent of all foreign tourists visiting the area. In addition, more than 300,000 people from Taiwan visited, and many of them are said to be vegetarians.

There had been sparse information on restaurants offering halal options. For that reason, many tourists had bought food at convenience stores and supermarkets and ate them at their hotels, according to the bureau.

Elsewhere in Hokkaido, the chambers of commerce and industry in Sapporo, Asahikawa and Obihiro had each produced similar maps. Advised by the Hokkaido Muslim inbound tourism promotion association that is familiar with the dietary requirements that conform to Islamic law, the Oshima bureau, restaurants and others worked together to create the map.

A sample image of the Hakodate Guide Map for Muslim visitors.Photo: The Japan News/Asia News Network

About 20 restaurants are on the map, including those in the towns of Nanae and Kikonai in the subprefecture. The map also includes such information as the availability of prayer rooms and English-speaking staff.

The map has been distributed around Hakodate at locations such as hotels and major tourism facilities.

"It's necessary for sightseeing areas to respond to various dietary habits," said an official of the commerce, industry, labour and tourism promotion section of the bureau. "We want to increase the number of restaurants who agree with this idea."