'Mobile Mosques' planned for Olympic visitors

'Mobile Mosques' planned for Olympic visitors

A project to develop "Mobile Mosques" is underway in Japan, as the country prepares to welcome visitors to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The games' organizers say Muslim prayer rooms will be available at the athletes' village but not at stadiums or other competition venues.

The Mobile Mosques are expected to help address the concerns of Muslim visitors, who must pray 5 times a day, facing Mecca.

A group of firms working on the project unveiled a model on Monday in the city of Toyota, Aichi Prefecture.

The group renovated a truck by expanding the container on both sides.

The air-conditioned prayer room can fit 50 worshippers. Developers also plan to install a compass that points to Mecca.

The truck costs about 100-million yen, or about 900,000 dollars, but the group is aiming to lower the price.

Project chief Yasuharu Inoue says he hopes to provide a place where both athletes and spectators can pray.

The vehicular mosque was developed jointly with an automaker in Yanai, in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi.

The firm sought the advice of foreign Muslim students at Yamaguchi University who tested the truck.

The company's president Tetsuro Akimoto says he hopes the vehicle will be stationed at Olympic and Paralympic venues as a show of "omotenashi," a Japanese word for hospitality.