URAYASU, Japan • A “mobile mosque” was unveiled last month in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, with Muslim residents of the Kanto region coming to say their prayers. This mosque on wheels, which can be sent anywhere, was created with an eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as well as other international events coming to Japan.
The mosque looks like an ordinary truck, about 39 feet long and about 8 feet wide on the road. Within several minutes of parking, the sides expand to the right and left, rendering the truck about 19½ feet wide. The vehicle now has become a 516-square-foot prayer room that can accommodate more than 50 people at once.
The prayer room has four air conditioners, water tanks and outdoor faucets so the faithful can wash before praying.
A Tokyo-based event-organizing company and others came up with the idea for the mosque, in a bid to provide omotenashi Japanese hospitality for Muslims. It was created by the executive committee for the mobile mosque project for $884,314.
“Infrastructure is being improved to accommodate visitors to Japan of various nationalities, cultures and religions. However, the nation is short of places of worship for Islam, one of the three major religions in the world,” said Yasuharu Inoue, head of the Tokyo-based committee. “I’m a Buddhist, but I wanted to create an environment where everyone can say their prayers at ease.”
The mosque is expected to be leased to event organizers and sent to sites that don’t have enough rooms for prayer, such as gyms, stadiums and tourist facilities.
“There were very few places for worship for Muslims, and they had to avoid people’s attention when I came to Japan 30 years ago,” said Sandha Saleem, a visitor to the mosque who is from Pakistan and lives in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. “The number of prayer rooms has gradually increased in Japan, but even today, there aren’t many. So mobile mosques like this will make Muslims visiting Japan feel at home,” he said after prayers at the mosque.
Since the mobile mosque’s completion was announced to the press in July, the executive committee has received inquiries from more than 45 countries, and some event organizers are considering using it at international events.
“The mobile mosque is seen as very unique to Japan. Surprisingly, it’s getting a lot of attention from Islamic countries, where there are many mosques,” Inoue said. The committee now has set out to create a second mobile mosque.