Mobile Mosque, a 48 square meter fully equipped prayer hall that opens at the back of a parked truck, reaches the Tokyo Games site. The rear of the modified truck can be widened in seconds and the vehicle also includes Arabic signage and outside water taps for cleaning before worship.
For the thousands of Muslim athletes, officials and supporters arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games later this year, it may be difficult for them to find an appropriate place to pray.
The answer could be found on the streets of Tokyo in the back of a truck.
At the start of the Games in July, prayer rooms will be available in the athletes’ village currently under construction. However, some sites may not have designated space. There is also a shortage of prayer spaces in hotels and public spaces in the Japanese capital.
This is where the mobile mosque, a 48 square meter fully equipped prayer hall that opens at the back of a parked truck, comes into play. The rear of the modified truck can be widened in seconds and the vehicle also includes arabic signage and outside water taps for cleaning before worship.
The Yasu project, the organization behind the company, plans to mount on outdoor sites during the Olympic Games, which will take place from July 24 to August 9. The organization’s CEO, Yasuharu Inoue, hopes that athletes and supporters will use the truck.
“I want the athletes to compete with their greatest motivation and the public also to encourage with their greatest motivation. That’s why I did this, “said Inoue, pointing to the white truck parked next to the Tokyo Tower on Wednesday. “I hope this raises awareness that there are many different people in this world and promotes peaceful and non-discriminatory Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
Tokyo 2020 said Wednesday that they are considering different routes to provide appropriate facilities for all religious groups.
“The organizing committee is preparing a list of religious or denominational centers that could be contacted or visited if village residents request it,” Tokyo 2020 told Reuters in an email. “At the Games venues, multi-faith prayer spaces for athletes and spectators are being explored in the planning of site operations.”
According to a survey from Waseda University, there were 105 mosques in Japan at the end of 2018. But with these spread across the country and many of them small and on the outskirts of Tokyo, it can be difficult for them Muslims who need to pray five times a day.
Inoue said he has already spoken to several Olympic committees, most recently Indonesia, about helping their athletes.
Topan Rizki Utraden, an Indonesian who has lived in Japan for 12 years, came to the mobile mosque for the first time with his daughter. He said it can be difficult to find a quiet place to pray in Japan, especially outside of Tokyo.
“It is really difficult to find mosques near you,” said Utraden. “If you are in town, there is no problem, but if you are on a road trip outside Tokyo, it is difficult.
“Sometimes I pray in a park, but sometimes the Japanese look at me like” what are you doing?