For most Tokyoites and people around Japan, the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr does not register a blip on their radars. However, this is an important religious holiday for Muslims. It marks both the end of Ramadan and is the holiest festival on the calendar for Muslims both in Japan and around the globe. Muslims worldwide have been excitedly waiting for this special date and will soon be celebrating it.
The event signifies the end of fasting associated with Ramadan. On the day, Muslims pray to mark the end of the fast and typically spend it enjoying time with family and friends. The day generally involves eating and giving loved ones presents. The event and the day have an emphasis that is firmly placed on togetherness and happiness.
On the day, people often wear new clothes for the special occasion. Muslims often organize Eid parties after morning prayers in mosques, at university campuses or at other locations where people can congregate. Many non-Muslim Japanese also have participated in these Eid parties.
The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the nearly monthlong, dawn-to-sunset fasting during the month of Ramadan. The day of Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The dates of local celebrations vary because the date of the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on the observation of the new moon as recognized by local religious authorities.
Eid festivals are held at a number of locations in various parts of the country. There are an estimated 80 mosques around Japan of varying size and many are said to be comparatively small.
One of the largest places of Islamic worship is Tokyo Camii, located in Shibuya Ward and easily accessible via the nearest station, Yoyogi Uehara on the Odakyu Line. The Ottoman-style mosque in the heart of the metropolis adjoins the Turkish Culture Center and can accommodate around 1,200 worshipers.
This year, at Tokyo Camii the Eid prayers will be held at 8:30 a.m. on June 15. This and other mosques have been stepping up outreach activities to increase understanding of Islam in recent years. Participating or even observing this or a similar event is one way learn more about a religion with low visibility in Japan.
Tokyo Camii is not the only option. Eid prayers will also be held at the Ja’me Masjid mosque in Yokohama at 7:30 a.m. on either June 15 or 16 (the mosque will announce the date on the 14th at 9 p.m.)
It is important to remember that the festival and mosques have certain rules and traditions that are to be followed. Separate spaces are provided for women. Clothing should be modest, cover the legs and women are expected to wear a headscarf. Similarly, shoes are to be removed and no photography or videos are allowed in the prayer hall without permission.
Please visit the following websites for additional information. www.masjid-yokohama.jp/eidul_fitr_temp.html, or tokyocamii.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Ramadan-Calendar-Tokyo-EN-2018.pdf