MIYAZAKI – Miyazaki University now offers five halal meals prepared according to Islamic traditions, whether students are Muslims or not.
The food offered on campus caters to those from Indonesia, Malaysia, and other Muslim countries, as well as Japanese students who want to learn more about Islamic culture through the cafeteria menu.
“Not only students from Islamic states, but also curious Japanese students can enjoy the delicacies,” said Yoichiro Yoshinaga, who manages the student restaurant. “Through the cafeteria, I want them to be interested in each other’s culinary cultures.”
Halal specialties include chicken rendang, a coconut milk curry dish, an adzuki bean paste roll, and two types of sourdough bread. The latest, the chicken curry, quickly sold out but is back on the menu.
The dishes have been certified by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, also known as JAKIM. Tools for cooking and preparing food, as well as materials, have been recognized as halal.
Under Islamic law, pork and foods labeled with constituents derived from pork are prohibited for consumption. It is also forbidden to have dishes treated with kitchen utensils or dishes that have come into contact with pork.
Muslims were not allowed to drink alcohol. Chicken and beef intended for human consumption must be processed according to Islamic standards.
Novia Lusiana, 23, an Indonesian who is studying forestry at the university’s graduate school, said she examines food products in stores for halal certifications when cooking at home. Lusiana even checks the ingredient labeling of the foods she buys.
She said she took special care when eating with Japanese students and usually opted for vegetable salads and orange juice on those occasions.
“Being able to eat halal-certified food in the student cafeteria is a great source of comfort,” Lusiana said. “It allows me to use the free time that would otherwise be spent in the kitchen to study.”
Miyazaki University aggressively accepts international students. However, the number of international students dropped significantly to 141 in May this year from around 200 at its peak due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of this figure, about 30 come from Muslim countries.
“We are creating a better living environment for students while respecting different cultures around the world. In this way, we plan to attract excellent individuals from overseas,” said Makiko Hamasaki, section head at the college’s Global Support Office.
Besides the cafeteria, the university opened an Islamic center on its campus to allow Muslims to pray and do other things there.