Kahoku Online News: "The Muslim Next Door" - Living in Sendai; School Lunch Considerations

On March 25, Kahoku Online news published an article about Muslims living in and around Sendai (north-east Japan) and considerations when it comes to school lunch. The author pointed out the difficulty in balancing Islamic culinary customs into the existing school lunch menu. According to Sendai City Health Education Division, many Muslim children often only eat staple food and milk while eating, and often bring side dishes from home to supplement the menu items that they cannot eat. Meanwhile, some elementary schools are beginning to provide halal-compatible meals - although it is anything but the norm.

The author highlights the crucial area of difficulty - products and packaging that do not clearly label ingredients or that there are limited Halal-friendly alternatives. For example, yakisoba sauce (used for fried noodles) contains pork or chicken, and it is difficult to find an efficient and affordable way to provide alternative ingredients or meals in the existing system. Additionally, halal food is no longer halal if it comes into contact with non-halal (known as “haram”) food. This means that a separate prep area and cooking surface also need to be halal.

This article highlights the impending reassessment and adjustments that will become necessary as more and more immigrants come to Japan.