May 17, 2014

Did you think New York attracted big crowds?

Japan Day in Düsseldorf 

Or it all depends what you compare it to


2010 I was in New York City for one of my many trips to the country, and I ended up at a big event in Central Park. Well, at least I thought it was big, with about 40 000 participants showing up.

And then I came to Düsseldorf, Germany...

And now it is  that time of the year again; The day when Düsseldorf gets filled up with amazingly interesting people and gorgeous food, the time of the year when you look outside and you feel transported to another part of the world.

The time of the year when Japan Day happens... 

With one of the biggest Japanese populations outside of Japan, excellent Japanese food is always readily available, there are every Japanese tool you can imagine available, you can buy Japanese books and magazines, you can go to the Japanese temple, it is fascinating and spellbinding.  And on one day every year, the Japanese community comes out and show the rest of the city what Japan and being Japanese is about. 

The first year I celebrated Japan day I had been in New York earlier in the year, and we had 40 000 participants. In Düsseldorf the same year, almost 800 000 participants were reported to have visited; And that's when you realise just how big Japan day in Düsseldorf actually is.

The date varies slightly from year to year, but it is always around May-June time, except for one year, 2011, when it was postponed until October because of what happened in Fukushima, when disaster strikes the mother land, the people in the diaspora should of course not be celebrating, and everybody understood well the move.  But for the rest of the years, ever since 2002, Japan day has been going strong. 

There will be food vendors with samples, there will be children performing - not the least the Karate and Judo shows - there will be Japanese drummers - there always are - there will be Origami folding, and a lot more. And the city will be, as every year, full of people in manga outfits. 

I am sad to be missing it, and I will do what I can to instead join next year. Because Japan day in Düsseldorf, Germany, is that special.

Not the least because of the absolutely incredible fireworks that always marks the end of the long and wonderful day, fireworks that just seem to go on and on and on - fireworks that, I can guarantee you, will be among the best, if not THE best, that you have ever seen. 

Where is it?

If you get to Düsseldorf, ask for the directions to Altstadt - the old town. The celebrations are spread out all over the town but the centre and where all the people go is in Altstadt, and especially along the river, on the Altstadt promenade, see the map. 

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