Düsseldorf, Germany — The annual transformation of Germany’s beautiful Rhine River Promenade into a vibrant outdoor Japanese cultural festival known as Japan Day 2011 on October 15, is one of the most fascinating surprises in the city’s line-up of large-scale festivals.
This year’s Japan Day, the 10th, promises to be the most exciting ever, because the all-day outdoor event is also the culmination of a yearlong series of nationwide events celebrating the 150 anniversary of Japanese-German diplomatic relations, which began with a friendship agreement signed in 1861 in Edo (today’s Tokyo) by Japan and Germany (then Prussia).
Japan’s J-Pop icon Halko Momoi will kick off the event the night before on the outdoor stage in the city’s historic Old Town. The main stage and one of three big outdoor stages will be the setting for more than 400 performers. The massive 9-hour program starts on Saturday at 12:30 pm and will conclude at 9:30 pm with an authentic Japanese fireworks, the largest outside of Japan.
The program is as colorful as it is diverse, with the three stages focusing on various aspects of Japanese culture, including music, sports, and arts. One stage features Japanese pop artists such as Kana, Miu, Wotaku World Wave, and Desiree Richter. In addition, a Cosplay fashion show will be staged along with kimono fittings and a karaoke contest.
Sports performances will include Sumo, Judo, Karate and Kendo; and a street soccer tournament is also part of the program, with kids of local Japanese and German schools competing. Samurai warriors in authentic gear and Japanese music played on drums, bamboo flutes and saxophones are part of the cultural focus.
Why is there an event like Japan Day in Düsseldorf? Because the city already is the center of Japanese life in Germany. More than 8,000 Japanese live and work in and around the city, and about 12,000 are in the region, the largest number anywhere in Germany and the third-largest in Europe.
Drawn by the many Japanese and foreign companies located here (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.
Japan Day usually takes place in the summer, and the 2011 event had been scheduled for May 28, but after the earthquake in Japan earlier this year, the Japanese consulate and the city decided to postpone the event until October 15 – which means there’s yet another reason to visit Düsseldorf this year and see the best of two worlds.
The city’s tourism office, Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH offers hotel and city specials for visitors starting at Euro 43 per person and include hotel nights, breakfast, free public transportation and other services.