The development comes at a time when an unprecedented number of tourists and students are coming to Japan from the Islamic world, which accounts for one-fifth of the global population.
Aside from the economic potential, it is intended both as a measure of consideration for Muslims and a way of allowing them to visit commercial facilities in a more carefree manner.
"Many Muslim students want to study in Japan,” said an official at one university. "There is an intensifying competition among universities over how to build an environment that would help attract them.”
Rikkyo University in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward, which has plans to increase its number of non-Japanese students to 2,000 by 2024, opened a prayer room in April.
It is a module-type worship hall manufactured by Tanseisha Co., a space design firm based in the capital’s Minato Ward. The prayer room is complete with a board indicating the direction of Mecca and a watering spot for ablutions.
Rikkyo University President Tomoya Yoshioka said that the opening of the prayer room "provides an opportunity for our Japanese students to learn about Islamic culture.”
Sophia University hosts about 50 students from Muslim-majority nations, including Indonesia and Malaysia.
Japan National Tourism Organization figures show a notable growth in the number of visitors from Malaysia and Indonesia. Approximately 510,000 people came to Japan from those two countries in 2015, nearly quadruple the corresponding figure from a decade ago.