A smattering of Japanese is always very useful in Düsseldorf, capital of North Rhine-Westphalia and home to Germany's largest Japanese community, but especially on Japan Day, the annual event when the city's Japanese – around 7,000 people – join a few hundred thousand other Düsseldorfers and international visitors for an enthralling celebration.
Describing Düsseldorf as little Tokyo may be a slight exaggeration. However, there are few other European cities where the Japanese influence on art, culture, food and drink, festivals, leisure and sport is as strong as here. This traditional friendship has been celebrated for decades with a delightful spring festival, mostly in early June, known as Japan Day or 'Jap Day' for short. On these occasions everything is Japanese – not only the shows, entertainment, art and cuisine but also a wonderful spectrum of music ranging from classical to traditional Japanese, along with exhibitions featuring arts such as calligraphy or ikebana, and the samurai, who bring Japanese martial arts to life in historical armour. Film buffs can enjoy contemporary films from Japan, and manga fans are in their element. Not forgetting the breathtaking fireworks that illuminate the sky above the banks of the Rhine around 11pm, beautifully composed and choreographed by Japanese pyrotechnic experts. The finale is always poignant – and the perfect moment to say a quiet sayonara. See you next year at Japan Day in Düsseldorf!
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