Konnichiwa from Düsseldorf

You may or may not know, but outside of Japan, Düsseldorf and its surroundings host the third largest Japanese community in the world, and the largest in Europe. In Düsseldorf alone, there are over eleven thousand Japanese and they certainly have made themselves at home here. All across the city, there are signs of the Japanese population, from a whole area of town being nicknamed ‘Little Tokyo’ to the plethora of sushi shops and Japanese supermarkets. Düsseldorf also hosts an annual ‘Japan-Tag‘ (Japan day) in May/ June and this is the largest festival of such nature in the world.

As well as ‘Little Tokyo’ in the city centre, the Japanese community have taken a liking to the city’s upscale neighbourhood Oberkassel on the other side of the river. Here, they have their own kindergartens, schools and what I’m going to talk about quickly today, the EKO Haus der japanischen Kultur (House of Japanese Culture). The EKO Centre (www.eko-haus.de) is made up of the largest Buddhist temple in Europe, gardens and a traditional house with tea rooms (which were unfortunately closed today – an excuse to revisit when the weather in nicer).

My friend Julio and I have been meaning to visit the centre since September but have continuously postponed our trip due to wet weather but today, despite the thick cloud and cold temperatures, we ventured across the river and into unknown territory. To get to the centre, we walked along the banks of the river which gave us a number of opportunities to admire the huge houses and villas along the Rhine, not to mention the fancy cars. Not before long, neither of us could believe we were still actually in the city.. it felt like another world entirely! Finally we found our destination and spent some time wandering around the gardens taking it all in.

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After we had had our fill of new cultures, we headed back towards the U-bahn line where we met another friend, Emma for a drink and a catch up. We found a cosy little cafe, with sheepskin throws draped over the chairs and and enjoyed a rather wintery drink of ‘apple and ginger punch with cinnamon’. Perfect on a cold afternoon!

Until the next time, bis bald.. or should I say Sayonara!