Japan’s largest mosque
One might be astonished at the sight of a mosque in Japan. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Islam was as good as unknown herer until the days of the Meiji Restoration (1868). And even today you’ll have to try hard to find a Japanese that would call him/herself a Muslim. The Muslim population of Japan is almost exclusively limited to immigrants from Muslim countries. Traditionally, the largest group of Muslim inhabitants consisted of migrant workers from Bangladesh and Iran.
Apart from other locations, a larger Muslim community developed in Tōkyō from migrants that had left the Sovjet Union soon after the October Revolution. Already in 1938 Tatars from Kazan built the first mosque in Tōkyō. However, this building had to be turned down in 1986, as the ravages of time had played their pranks on it (some other sources state the year 1985 for the demolishment of the old mosque).
The grounds of the old mosque were handed over to the Republic of Turkey by the “Tōkyō Turkish Association” on the condition that the Turkish government was to built a new mosque. After the groundbreaking on 12 April 1996 the construction of a new mosque was started in 1998. When it was inaugurated on 30 June 2000 it was (and still is) the largest mosque in Japan. On 734 sqm of ground one floor below ground and three floor above ground were built, adding up to 1,477 sqm of total floor space. The main hall with its massive dome has a height of 23 metres – the slender minaret next to it is almost 41,5 metres tall.
The basic structure of the mosque was built by the Japanese building company “Kajima Corporation” (鹿島建設株式会社 / かじまけんせつかぶしきがいしゃ), whilst decoration and works of art were mainly carried out by Turkish craftsmen and artisans (for the facade of the mosque large quantities of fine marble were imported from Turkey). The whole building project was a joint venture of Turkish and Japanese know-how.
There is also Turkish cultural centre associated with the mosque.
How to get there:
From the centre of Tōkyō take the trains of the Odakyū line (小田急線 / おだきゅうせん) or the Tōkyō Metro Chiyoda line (東京メトロ千代田線 / とうきゅおうめとろちよだせん) to Yoyogi Uehara (代々木上原 / よよぎうえはら) and from there for just some minutes in western direction (see map below).
Tōkyō Chami & Turkish Culture Center
Special rules for the visit of the mosque:
- Clothing needs to be modest for both men and women.
- For women, an ankle length skirt or trousers, which should not be tight fitting or translucent are expected, together with a long sleeved and high-necked top.
- Men also should not wear short pants.
- A headscarf is essential for women.
- A contact form ist required for visits of groups of five or more people.
- Shoes have to be taken off, before entering the Prayer Hall and placed on shelves inside the hall.
- Inside the Prayer Hall silence is required.
- Permission from the mosque’s office is necessary for taking photos or video recording of any kind.
- No photographs during prayers.
- You may observe the prayer, however, need to be seated in the back of the Hall and refrain from walking around.
- The upper floor is for women only.
- Pets are not allowed inside the building.