Delicious halal Kappo lunch box from Mabruk (Photo: Alena Eckelmann)

Halal Foods and Activities in Kansai

Mabruk assists travelers with box lunches, souvenirs and more

Delicious halal Kappo lunch box from Mabruk (Photo: Alena Eckelmann)
Alena Eckelmann   - 7 min read

Good news for all Muslim visitors to Japan. Do you have difficulty finding food that is both real Japanese cooking and halal? You don’t have to worry anymore. Mabruk caters to your needs!

The first ever-store for halal lunch box services (bento) in Japan opened its doors on March 25th, 2016 at Rinku Town Station, just one stop by train from Kansai International Airport (KIX).

‘Mabruk’ is an expression from the Arabic language that is widely used during joyful occasions in the Arab world. It means “congratulations” or “blessing upon you”. This new service is a blessing indeed for Muslim visitors to Japan, as it offers the chance to enjoy real, halal Washoku (traditional Japanese food). Washoku uses a rich blend of ingredients, a wide range of cooking methods and beautiful visual presentation of dishes that vary with season and by region. It is Japan’s unique cuisine and has been registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2013.

Food represents culture, and enjoying Washoku is an important part of experiencing Japan to the fullest. Eating this authentic Japanese food is key to unlocking Japan’s rich culture, and this is now offered to Muslim visitors.

How the halal lunch box was born

As the story goes, the founder of Mabruk had Muslim friends who wanted to eat authentic Japanese food but prepared in the halal way. They found it close to impossible to find such food in Japanese restaurants or stores. Hence, they had to resort to cooking for themselves in Japan.

He recognised that there was a real catering need that no other restaurant or store had yet filled. Travellers usually do not have the facilities to cook for themselves, nor do they want to spend all of their precious holiday time in the kitchen. This is how Mabruk was born.

Whether you come from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, North Africa, the Middle East or indeed any other country, you can now enjoy Halal food in Kansai. Actually, no matter your origin, anyone can partake in the delicious bento prepared by Mabruk!

Grande Limited, the company behind Mabruk, has a background in travel planning and assistance. They know exactly what visitors to Japan require, and their services cater to these needs. They suggest three easy steps to get a head-start with your holiday in Japan:

  1. Eat a delicious halal bento

  2. Store your luggage and go for a bicycle tour

  3. Get your local souvenirs

Eat a delicious halal bento

This is not just a “halal-friendly” service – Mabruk’s lunch boxes are halal from the sourcing of ingredients to the final output. The whole process, including sourcing, transporting, processing, cooking and packaging is all halal.

The halal kitchen where the lunch boxes are prepared is right on the premises in Rinku Town. This kitchen is only used for preparing halal lunch boxes. Hence, there is no mix-up with non-halal foods. It has been certified as a Halal Kitchen by the Kyoto Council for Sharia and Halal Affairs.

Ingredients like vegetables and fruits are sourced locally in the Izumisano area. The lunch box contents change throughout the year to make the most of Japan’s seasonal variety of vegetables and fruits.

At the moment there is only one type of lunch box but the plan is to introduce a wider range in the near future.

The menu and food preparation are supervised by the chef and owner of Kappo Sakamoto, a Kyoto-based, Michelin-starred restaurant. The restaurant is located in Kyoto’s Gion district, which is well-known for refined, high-class Kyoto cuisine.

The Halal Washoku lunch box costs 1,200 yen excluding tax. At the moment, the lunch boxes are only available at Rinku Town, but a second store is set to open in Kyoto in May this year.

You can either order your bento online before arriving at KIX or Izumisano area, or pick up your lunch box in person at the store in Rinku Town. Opening times are from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Alternatively, for an additional ¥600, there is a delivery service within the KIX and Izumisano area.

Even the Mayor of Izumisano has enjoyed Mabruk’s halal washoku lunch box and is a strong supporter of the initiative.

Store your luggage and go for a bicycle tour

And this is not all.

In addition to their food offerings, visitors can also store their luggage at the Mabruk store and enjoy a cycle trip in the Izumisano area. Travelers who pay the ¥500 luggage storage fee will receive a free bike rental for up to three hours. Rental times can be extended by two hours at a stretch for an addition ¥100 (subject to bicycle availability).

You will get access to Thrift foldable bicycles for the duration of your luggage being stored.

Recommended: picnic plan

Why not combine a halal lunch box picnic with a cycle trip?

Order your halal lunch box online before arriving at KIX. Then take the train for one stop to Rinku Town. Mabruk is located 1 minute from the ticket gate of the train station in the same building. Pick up your delicious lunch, while leaving your luggage in storage. Now you are free to enjoy a short cycling trip in the local area and find your perfect lunch spot for a picnic. You have 3 hours to enjoy the scenery around Rinku Town and Izumisano and eat your halal lunch without any extra charges for luggage storage and bike rental.

Tour suggestions

  • Easy - Rinku Town Explorer: Marble Beach, Rinku Premium Outlets, Rinku Pleasure Town Seacle, Rinku Park with Big Ferry Wheel, Rinku Gate Tower Building, Japan’s third tallest building. (5 min from Mabruk)

  • Medium - Izumisano Old Town Discovery: Sano Machiba old town, Izumisano Furosato Machiakan cultural experience (upon prior reservation). (15min from Mabruk)

  • Advanced - Ao Sora Ichiba Tour: Open-air fish market with more than 30 shops. (30min from Mabruk)

Get your local souvenirs

There is good reason to pick up your lunch box in person at the store in Rinku Town, as you can also browse a selection of unique souvenirs from the Izumisano area. Of course, shopping for presents here is tax-free!

Izumisano, a city in the south of Osaka Prefecture, is bordered by both the Izumi Mountains and the sea. Despite its proximity to Kansai’s major transport hub, Kansai International Airport, and modern shopping and entertainment at Rinku Town, the city’s wider area boasts forests and rich agricultural lands.

Senshu, the old area name for the southern part of modern Osaka Prefecture that consists of modern Kumatori Town, Izumisano City and Sennan City, has also been known for its flourishing crafts throughout the centuries. Senshu is especially known for the production of towels since the 1890s. These eponymous towels use a post-production blanching process that helps make them particularly water-absorbent and soft to the touch.

Souvenir ideas:

  • Idsumi: fresh, handmade pickles from Izumisano

  • Fukuroya Towels: brand of Senshu towels

  • Shizuku Towels: brand Senshu towels

  • Senshu Kodawari: range of Senshu towels dyed with natural dye from local fruits and vegetables.

Even better, Mabruk will customise your souvenir towels by embroidering a name on the towel. This is done on the spot with a modern Brother sewing machine while you wait. The machine can handle names in different scripts, including alphabet and Japanese katakana, hiragana and kanji.

So, what are you waiting for: visit Mabruk today!

Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Founder of Kii Monogatari, my story and the story of the Kii Peninsula of Japan. Originally from East Germany, I came to Tokyo, via Berlin and London, in 2005. In summer 2011 I moved by choice to remote Kumano in the south of the Kii Peninsula where I live, work and play now, and explore every da...