Mosque in Shibuya

Get Turkish Culture in Tokyo (for free)

There is a decent amount of Turkish culture in Tokyo, but you don’t have to pay to get it.

In these days of lockdowns and restricted air travel, Japanese people are finding new and unique ways to appreciate exotic cultures without leaving the big city.

Recently, I went on a lovely afternoon date to Tokyo Camii, the Turkish culture center in Shibuya. There were dried dates to eat, hot tea to drink, photo ops to take, intricate architecture to admire, and more. Best of all, the whole thing was free.

Actually, it might be better to say that my girl was best of all. But it also felt good to enjoy myself and get lots of fun memories without feeling like I had to pay for it.

Tokyo Turkey

How We Heard About Tokyo Camii

My girl had been seeing more and more posts about Tokyo Camii in Instagram. There were a lot of posts under the #Tokyocamii tag, and the photos were gorgeous.

When she told me about it, I was excited to try something new and unique.

Tokyo Camii

Tokyo’s Little Turkey

There was a tour at 2, so we congregated with a bunch of people at the lobby. There were dried dates and hot tea. And by the way, real dried dates are really expensive, so I was impressed!

The tour guide ushered us into the next room, where he picked up a vase and talked about it for a while. Unfortunately, the whole thing was in Japanese, so if you’re still n5 or n4, you’re not going to know exactly what’s going on.

I didn’t catch everything — I’m still learning the language — but the gist of it was that the guy was talking about Islam, how they pray in a certain direction, how you can’t see god, and how you’re supposed to kill animals for halal meat. Honestly, he went on about it for a really long time, and it was really boring.

My date (the female, not the fruit) saw the dead look in my eyes and whispered, “we can leave early.” That was music to my ears. We waited until the old guy turned around, and we walked out of the room.

Tokyo’s Turkish Mosque

Most of the cool stuff was basically a mosque. We went upstairs and took off our shoes. The carpet was fuzzy, soft green. The windows were beautiful stained glass. The architecture was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in person.

By the way, women have to wear a head covering inside. Just something to note.

We stayed there for a while until they started to pray. We hung out for the prayers, which were beautiful.

Having grown up Jewish, this was an interesting experience for me.

Honestly, the whole ceremony reminded me a lot of Jewish prayers. The velvety covers; the style of the religious artwork all over the walls and windows; the way the head guy led the prayers and the others repeated him. Also, there were about 5 or 6 kids running around, tackling each other and laughing throughout most of the prayers. Then at the end, there was an important part where they all went quiet and prayed in silence. When you’re done, you can go. Naturally, the kids were done first. The nostalgia was eerie.

If you’re Jewish, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Mosque in Shibuya

The Halal Shop Downstairs

Yup, there’s a halal shop, and the food down there reminded me of Jewish food, too. They have hummus, tahini, lentils, sweet halva, and other hard-to-find middle eastern food.

They also had falafel.

Well, they were clearly chickpea balls, but there was some other name on the label. But it looked a hell of a lot like falafel.

Here’s a picture she took of some Baklava.

Tokyo Halal

What to Do in Shinjuku After Tokyo Camii

After Tokyo Camii, my date and I took a long walk that lasted throughout the afternoon and evening. We made a few stops, including one fun one in Bookoff!

I love that store.

Bookoff Tokyo

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