Aichi service area in Japan to offer halal foods for Muslim travelers

February 3, 2016 12:25 pm 

TEHRAN, Feb. 2 — The Okazaki service area on the Shin Tomei Expressway will start selling halal bento (boxed meals) when it opens in February to accommodate the needs of a growing number of Muslim tourists.

Using produce grown by local farmers, the meals will be prepared in accordance with Islamic dietary laws to ensure Muslims don’t have to worry about their food while on vacation in Japan.

Currently, few restaurants in Japan cater to the dietary restrictions of Muslims, which includes a ban on eating pork and drinking alcohol, Japan Times news reported.

“Many tour buses use the expressway, but we’ve never heard of a service area providing (halal food),” said an official at the Japan Tourism Agency.

The bento will be produced and sold by Toyotan Honpo Corp., a company in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture that develops regional specialties. The company will open its store at the Okazaki service area.

The rest stop is a prime location as it is situated halfway between the Kansai and Kanto regions, with Toyotan Honpo keen to take into account the dietary needs of group tour passengers traveling long distances.

There are four main dish options, including chicken teriyaki and gyukakuni (beef cube stew), with all meals created using ingredients that have been certified halal.The bento is served with Aichi no Kaori rice, a local brand produced by the chairman of Honpo, 40-year-old Etsushi Ohashi, and comes with side dishes of boiled carrots, shiitake and taro from Mikawa, Aichi Prefecture.

The move to halal foods is not an entirely new one.There are many Indonesians working in Toyota-affiliated companies in the city of Toyota. The deli section of a supermarket run by Masahide Itakura, 48, offers halal food as well. The supermarket has won the trust of local Muslims by separating and strictly managing ingredients and seasonings, as well as all cooking utensils used.

With tourists from Muslim countries often limited to eating light food, such as onigiri (rice balls), when visiting Japan, Honpo has already received orders from travel agencies for the product.

Located between the junctions of Toyota-Higashi in Toyota and Hamamatsu Inasa in the city of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the Okazaki Service Area will be the biggest one in the Tokai region when it starts operating on February 13. (PNA/IRNA)



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