Konichiwa, Dusseldorf! - Four places and opportunities to discover Japan


Konichiwa, Dusseldorf! - Four places and opportunities to discover Japan

From tea ceremonies and koi carp to one of Germany’s biggest cultural festivals

Despite the wealth of attractions on offer in Düsseldorf, no visit to the city would be complete without a trip to Little Tokyo. In this special and yet easily accessible area close to the main train station, you’ll find a number of Japanese not only working in every conceivable industry but also enjoying their free time. Why not immerse yourself in the Japanese capital of Germany or take one of the many opportunities to experience the country’s cultural highlights in the open air, on just one day a year, or even for free.

Japan Day 

A day when strangers and friends come together on the Rhine promenade to look up at the skies. When unfamiliar tastes suddenly become your new favourite ones. When you are given access to what you previously thought of as a quite private community – then it must be Japan Day in Düsseldorf! The event attracts 600,000 visitors to the regional capital every year. Many of them look forward to it so much you’d think it was their birthday. On this particular day in May, the programme includes concerts, presentations, tasting sessions and, of course, the traditional firework display. This means it’s time for hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to enthusiastically decorate their living room walls with new manga drawings, fall in love with ultra-cute kawai cuddly toys and devour their weight in sushi rolls and ramen noodles. There’s also a chance to learn Japanese symbols, traditional martial arts moves or how to make origami figures. With so many highlights, every visitor is sure to find something to delight them. In 2023, there are actually two reasons to look forward to this event: not only the chance to enjoy the day itself, but also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this coming together of Japanese, Germans and other nationalities from all over the world.  

Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo is a quarter like no other in Germany – even the street signs are bilingual. And once you’ve visited, we’d say the likelihood of you returning again and again is about 98 percent. The area around Immermannstrasse is so eclectic and enticing, it never ceases to amaze. So what can’t you get enough of? The supermarkets where you’ll be none the wiser after asking what’s actually in those bags, boxes and bottles in their original packaging? The restaurants and bars that take care to bring the most authentic Japanese cuisine to Germany so that you can taste the genuine article? The book shops that stock Manga that you will find nowhere else in Europe? Be prepared to try something completely different, whether it’s cultural attraction or culinary delight. But please don’t be put off by the long queues outside many of the eateries. This just shows how popular Little Tokyo has become with its kaleidoscope of possibilities.

Japan House in Niederkassel  

When you think of Japan, is it those typical traditional tea ceremonies that spring to mind? Then get yourself to Niederkassel! At the Eko Centre, a major hub for Japanese culture (Brüggener Weg 6), you can actually take part in one yourself. The ritual lasts for 60 minutes (compared with often several hours in Japan), so there’s plenty of time for you to completely relax. It’s quite possible that, by the end of it, you will have no idea at all why we have calendars, emails and business trips. Japan House also offers a number of courses on buddhism, calligraphy, playing the koto or zither, and speaking the language. The fact that Japanese is probably one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn will make you even more keen to learn, won’t it? In addition, there are guided tours offering a glimpse into the beautiful temple garden, another place that promotes inner peace with its blades of grass all perfectly lined up next to each other. By the way, Niederkassel is home to most of the Japanese nationals that call Düsseldorf home. Or temporary home, we should say, as many of them return to their homeland when they get older. Probably returning now and then to pay a visit to their relatives in Düsseldorf! 

Japanese Garden in North Park

If, for some peculiar reason, the tea ceremony has not resulted in a complete state of relaxation, you could try a visit to the ‘Garden of Contemplation’. This is a 5,000m² Japanese-style section of the Nordpark in Stockum. Since the 1970s, it has been home to pine trees and Japanese maple, in particular, which have been pruned in such a way that their cloud-like shapes look even more magical in the light of the stone lanterns. In the pond, giant koi carp, some of which are up to half a metre long, vie for the attention of a steady stream of visitors. In spring, they have to compete with another star attraction – the hamami, or cherry blossom trees, which attract people in their droves. Many of these visitors may even be dressed up, as the park is a popular meeting place for cosplayers, who spend many hours putting on make up and handmade costumes to transform themselves into their favourite video game/manga/anime or film heroes. As you can see, there are many ways in which people can express their love of Japan in Düsseldorf!

This article is supported by REACT-EU.

Images: Düsseldorf Tourism

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