The center of the Rhine-Ruhr area becomes the center of Japanese culture outside of Japan on May 29, 2010. The annual “Japan Day” transforms the river promenade into a vibrant showcase of Japanese culture and entertainment. Turnout: one million people.
The event is a dazzling array of displays and activities, some of them record-breaking and most of them free: it features the largest fireworks outside of Japan, a half-hour long symphony of fire shapes and flowers with supplies shipped directly from Japan by boat. Prior to the fireworks, a 10-hour, non-stop outdoor stage show will be performed. Visitors can watch and learn martial arts, Japanese arts and crafts, and touch and taste Japanese culture first-hand. Japan Day has been so popular with every age group that it has fostered its own sub-event: the largest gathering anywhere in Europe of Manga fans. Thousands of them convene in what’s called the “popculture-zone,” many dressed up as characters from their favorite books of this Japanese comic book genre.
Why Japan Day in Düsseldorf? Because the city already is the center of Japanese life in Germany. Five thousand Japanese live and work there, the largest number anywhere in Germany and the third-largest in Europe. Drawn by the many Japanese and foreign companies that are located there (450 Japanese companies are located in Düsseldorf), as well as safe and comfortable living environments that make Düsseldorf the highest-ranking German city and no. 6 on a global list of places with the highest quality of living in a recent survey of the world’s cities, the Japanese have long had a big influence on Düsseldorf and its cultural offerings. One day every summer, the city belongs to them completely.
Düsseldorf’s Rhine promenade stretches from the center of historic Old Town to the ultra-modern “media harbor,” a former manufacturing area turned into the hip center of media companies in fantastic buildings designed by star architects such as Gehry and Chipperfield. On any day, walking along the promenade is a reflection of a city’s beautiful past, present, and ability to transform. On Japan Day, that experience is magnified when the city reveals an embrace wide enough to include the other side of the planet.
Visit and see the best of Germany and Japan in one day, then hop over to Belgium, the Netherlands, Cologne, and all of the Rhine-Ruhr area for a smorgasbord of culture, all in easy reach from Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf International Airport, Germany’s third-largest, offers several non-stop flights from US cities, as well as convenient connections to many European cities and beyond. Find Japan Day specials for hotels and air fares at www.visitduesseldorf.de .