KAWAGOE, Saitama Prefecture--Tobu Railway Co. has published 7,000 copies of a sightseeing map for Muslims visiting this historic city, featuring eateries that offer halal menu items and some equipped with prayer spaces.

The Kawagoe Coedo Map for Muslims is available at Kawagoe and Ikebukuro stations and a tourist information office in Kawagoe, as well as on the company’s website, to cater to the many sightseers who take Tobu Tojo Line trains to the destination known as "Little Edo."

With the percentage of Muslims among inbound tourists visiting Kawagoe on the rise, officials and locals are seeking ways to accommodate their needs.

The A4-sized, three-folded map features such sites as Kashiya Yokocho (Penny Candy Lane), Kawagoe Hikawajinja shrine and Kawagoe Daishi Kitain Temple with English texts. Also on the map are nine shops including Japanese confectioners, restaurants and soba eateries that serve food free of pork and alcohol. Of these, teppanyaki and sushi restaurants are equipped with prayer rooms.

According to the city government, about 197,000 of about 6.628 million people who visited Kawagoe in 2017 were from outside Japan. Breaking down the number of about 45,700 foreign tourists who came to the tourist information office by region, Taiwanese visitors topped the list, followed by Chinese, Thai and South Korean sightseers.

From Malaysia and Indonesia, which are home to large Muslim populations, 920 and 535 tourists visited the office, respectively.

As the figures are rapidly increasing, city officials invited a Japanese Muslim to a study session in August last year to teach local restaurant and shop operators about their religion and lifestyle. Many of the shops featured on the map are managed by participants of the study session.

Notable among them is Kawagoe Kousushi, a sushi restaurant founded 140 years ago. With an increase in the number of foreign customers, the eatery remodeled its storeroom measuring three-and-a-half “tatami” mats into a prayer room in June last year even before the study session. The room has been used almost twice a week, the restaurant operator said.

The prayer room is equipped with a washing area for users to clean their hands and feet before praying, in addition to a mark that shows the direction toward Mecca, a compass, carpets and prayer clothes for female users.

Upon request, Kawagoe Kousushi will omit from its menu items that use sweet “mirin” sake and make adjustments to exclude soy sauce and sugar that has alcohol added.

“We want customers from any country to enjoy Japanese cuisine,” said Takako Nagashima, 42, the company president.