[BILINGUAL POSTCARD / ÉMIGRÉ TATAR IMPRINT / MUSLIMS IN JAPAN] Yaponya’da Toruçi Müslümanlari’nin birinci ciilishi, 1928 ili. [i.e., With Japanese students at the Japan Muslims meeting in 1928]

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[Matbaa-yi Islâmiye, Tokyo, 1928].

Original litho postcard. 9x14 cm. Descriptive text in bilingual Japanese and Tatar with Arabic letters. Blank verso.

A very scarce original lithographed postcard showing Muslim Tatar educators with Japanese students in 1928, apparently at the opening of “Mekteb-i Islâmiye”. This uncommon ephemera is the third printed postcard from the fourth group of postcards produced at Matbaa-i Islâmiye in Tokyo (Dündar).

When the social revolution occurred in Russia in 1917, many Muslims living in the country faced persecution and were forced to flee for their lives. Tatars from the Kazan province moved to Manchuria, passing through Central Asia, and then emigrated to South Korea and Japan in search of a safe place to live.

The Tatars who settled in Tokyo and Kobe easily adapted to life in Japan, where the climate is moderate. Immediately after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, despite the U.S. government preparing a ship in Yokohama Port to evacuate foreigners living in Tokyo, the Tatars declined the offer and chose to remain in Japan. In the same year, they founded the Mahalle Islamiye Association with representatives including Abdulhay Kurban Ali, strengthening their friendship with the Japanese government and with Abdurrashid Ibrahim, who would arrive in Japan later. The primary concern of the Tatars starting a new life in Tokyo was their children’s education. In 1928, after obtaining permission from the Japanese government, they established a school named Mekteb-i Islamiye, also known as the Tokyo Islamic School. In 1938, with the cooperation of the Japanese government of the time, the Tokyo Islamic School was completed.

As of April 2024, we couldn’t trace any copies in OCLC, KVK.


The encounter between Muslims and Japan coincided with the end of the 19th century. Japan, which had closed itself off to most of the world for about 250 years during the Tokugawa period, opened its doors to the world due to the influence of the United States in 1853 and began establishing communication with many countries. Following this, encounters with Muslims and the Islamic world also began. The first Muslims to arrive in Japan are believed to be merchants who came on commerce ships. Thus, the journey of Muslims to Japan began with Indian Muslim merchants towards the end of the 19th century. Turko-Tatar Muslims who sought shelter in Japan following the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 constituted the second significant Muslim immigrant group.

After the Russian Revolution, some of the Idel-Uralian Turco-Tatars dispersed by immigrating to the Far Eastern regions, particularly Chinese territories like Manchuria, Hong Kong, Shanghai, as well as Korea and Japan, where they formed communities. Turco-Tatar groups in Japan began forming in 1919, and cities like Kumamoto, Yokohama, Tokyo, Kobe, and Nagoya hosted these newcomers. These groups had no close relationships with each other until 1924, when they began to meet after Molla Muhammad Gabdulhay Qurbangaliyef (Molla Muhammed Abdulhay Kurbanali) (1889-1972) arrived in Japan.

Molla Muhammed Abdulhay Kurbanali, who holds an important place in the struggle for the existence of Turco-Tatars in the Far East, is one of the most discussed Idel-Uralian leaders due to his political attitudes, relationships, and activities. He led the establishment of the first Islamic printing house in Japan, called “Matbaa-yi Islâmiye”, in Tokyo. The main reason for establishing this printing house was to meet the book needs of all Turco-Tatars who had to leave their homeland (primarily those in Japan) and to publish materials that would keep religious and national sentiments alive. During the establishment of the printing house, both Japanese officials and people from Idel-Ural made significant financial contributions. Undoubtedly, the reason for this was that Japan at the time aimed to create a new centre of attraction by establishing a base for propaganda activities towards the Turkish-Islamic world.

At a meeting held in October 1928, Turkish-Tatars living in Japanese-controlled lands and Japanese officials decided to establish a printing house in Tokyo that could publish books and other materials in Arabic script. Since the young Republic of Turkey began using Latin letters instead of Arabic letters with the Alphabet Revolution in 1928, the old letters and patterns of a newspaper in Istanbul were purchased and sent to Japan. Thus, between 1928 and 1942, the printing house produced 39 books, one newspaper, two journals, and 49 postcards (published in five groups: the first group includes sixteen, the second includes ten, the third includes four, the fourth includes eleven, and the fifth and final group includes eight cards), as well as calendars, advertisements, broadsides, invitations, programs, posters, and special envelopes.