If you've never heard of a mosque-on-wheels, you're about to. The Japanese city of Tokyo has developed what is called a Mobile Mosque for Muslim tourists and visitors hoping to catch the 2020 Summer Olympics this July and August. The idea behind this innovation is to keep Muslim athletes and attendees not only happy and content but motivated as well.
The company behind this revolutionary idea, Yasu Project, will be setting up camp in venues outside the Olympic Games' zones. Designated prayer rooms will be available in Athletes' Village once construction is completed, yet some venues may not have one on hand. In those locations, Mobile Mosques will be set up outside for any who need it.
The company's CEO, Yasuharu Inoue, hopes this venture brings awareness to the different people, backgrounds, and religions that exist in the world. He also wishes to promote peaceful and non-discriminatory behavior at the Olympics and Paralympics this year.
"I want athletes to compete with their utmost motivation and for the audience to cheer on with their utmost motivation as well. That is why I made this," Inoue told Reuters.
The 48-square-meter prayer room widens and opens up in the back of a parked truck in just seconds and can accommodate up to 50 people at a time.
Mosque goers will have no trouble identifying the blue and white truck. However, in case people miss the colors, the truck is adorned with Arabic and English writings on the outside to announce its presence. Also included are outdoor water taps for people to perform Wuḍūʾ (pre-worship cleansing).
Yasu Project has been preparing the Mobile Mosque for Olympics visitors since July 2018, two years before the major event. At the time, Inoue was surprised to find that Japan could have a shortage of mosques for 2020.
"As an open and hospitable country, we want to share the idea of 'omotenashi' (Japanese hospitality) with Muslim people," he said in 2018, according to Arab News.
The 25-ton truck was revealed during the last week of July 2018 outside Toyota Stadium in Toyota City. Over the last year and a half, Muslim worshipers who have prayed in the makeshift mosque have been pleased by its convenience.
Japan is not only attempting to cater to Muslims but people of all religions and beliefs. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympics Games is creating a list of religious and faith centers for all those residing in the Athletes' Village during the event.
To date, there are about 200 mosques across Japan. Along with its halal-friendliness and aesthetic, Japan has become one of the top 10 most popular vacation destinations among Muslim women.
Muslim Travelers' guides and apps are available to tourists and visitors, filling them in on all the locations and eateries that are halal-friendly.
Some places that can be found in the guide include the largest and most architecturally majestic mosque, Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center, as well as the Japanese onsen (hot springs) where facilities offer both gender-segregated and private baths.