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Japan’s first mosque in the city of Kobe

Kobe Mosque, was founded in October, 1935 in Kobe and is Japan’s first mosque.

Its construction was funded by donations collected by the Islamic Committee of Kobe from 1928 until its opening in 1935. The mosque was confiscated by the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1943. However, it continues to function as mosque today.

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It is located in the Kitano-cho foreign district of Kobe. Owing to its basement and structure, the mosque survived the air raids that laid waste to most of Kobe’s urban districts in 1945 and was able to endure through the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995. The mosque is located in one of Kobe’s best-known tourist areas, which features many old western style buildings.

The mosque was built in traditional Indian style by the Czech architect Jan Josef Švagr (1885–1969), the architect of a number of Western religious buildings throughout Japan.

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According to japanfocus.org, as of 2009 there were 30 to 40 single-story mosques in Japan plus another 100 or more apartment rooms set aside for prayers in the absence of more suitable facilities. 90% of these mosques use the 2nd floor for religious activities and the first floor as a halal shop.

Halal or Muslim-friendly restaurants can be found at major airports and a few leading large hotels.

Muslim demographics

The Muslim community in Japan has a history of over 100 years. Historian Caeser E. Farah documented that in 1909 Abdul-Rashid Ibrahim was the first Muslim who successfully converted the first ethnic Japanese, and in 1935 Kobe Mosque—Japan’s first Islamic building—was constructed. On 12 May 1938, a Mosque was dedicated in Tokyo.

In 1941, one of the chief sponsors of the Tokyo Mosque asserted that the number of Muslims in Japan numbered 600, with just three or four being native Japanese. Some sources state that in 1982 the Muslims numbered 30,000 (half were natives). Some ethnic Japanese women during the economic boom of the 1980s converted when large numbers of immigrants from Asia came and mixed with the local population. Most estimates of the Muslim population have been around 120,000.

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