Do you plan to visit Japan in the near future? Or, are you a long term resident in Japan who travels occasionally and thus looks for halal friendly restaurants or hotels a local or regional Halal friendly guidebook here or there, just to try the various halal food restaurants in your area? If yes, you may find the following paragraphs related to what you are most likely going to experience here in many cities of Japan.
Few days ago, while trying to persuade a seemingly Halal friendly restaurant chain in Osaka to join our Halal Friendly Restaurants list, I discovered a fundamental problem with the understanding the restaurant manager had about the exact meaning of Halal friendly food. He told me that they were using Halal soy sauce along with meat, beef and chicken bought from a local wholesaler.
To my dismay, he further told me that they can not imagine preparing a dish without adding at least a small amount of alcohol. According to him, wins is the main ingredient of all their dishes no matter what.
That discussion over the phone made me wary of the importance of these halal friendly guidebooks as most of them wrongly include the names of restaurants and hotels which do not have even a slightest idea of how to prepare and serve real halal food to any of their Muslim customers.
Of course, every one knows in Japan that these wholesalers will never sell you any halal meat unless you specifically ask them to do so, as halal meat is, generally speaking, more expensive than the regular meat available in all the shops around the country.
Most of these guidebooks are prepared by Japanese companies which do not have any clue what actually Halal is, and how to prepare a 100% Halal dish which is tasty as well. But, because they have a good relationship with government agencies such as regional and local tourism bureaus, they easily get contracts of massive amounts totaling millions of yen to prepare these so-called Halal friendly guidebooks which gather data from various restaurants.
So, my friends, I take these Halal friendly guidebooks in Japan with a grain of salt. The reason is that, unfortunately, the above mentioned story is not the first one I have experienced. It happened in the past as well while I was using another Muslim friendly guidebook to confirm the halalness of few other restaurants in Tokyo and elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the story is not very different even for some so called Halal friendly hotels listed in these Halal and Muslim friendly guidebooks.