DÜSSELDORF, Germany – For the fifteenth time, on 21 May the German-Japanese stronghold of Düsseldorf will be transformed into a place for engaging with the culture and people of Japan for more than 600,000 Japan lovers. With some 7,000 Japanese people living in Düsseldorf, the city has one of the highest Japanese populations in Europe. Together with the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the Japanese community, the state capital Düsseldorf will be staging a major cultural festival with Japan Day Düsseldorf/NRW.
This is by far the biggest Japan festival in Europe, comparable with the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. What is unique about this event is that Japan Day is organised on the basis of closeteamwork between Germans and Japanese. Japan Business Day, which takes place in Düsseldorf on 23 May, is a further attraction of Japan Day. The event impressively attests to the strength of Japan’s presence in NRW and Düsseldorf with around 600 Japanese companies.
Numbering some 7,000 people, the Japanese community in Düsseldorf accounts for one quarter of all Japanese citizens in the Federal Republic of Germany. In total roughly 380 Japanese companies have set up their head offices in the state capital, while in North Rhine-Westphalia as a whole around 32,000 people are employed by 600 Japanese companies. Düsseldorf is home to the Japanese Consulate-General, a Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a Japanese school and kindergartens, and the Japanese Club which has around 4,000 members. Japanese people are part of life in Düsseldorf, enriching the city in every respect. That is why Japan Day Düsseldorf/NRW and Japan Business Day have been staged annually since 2002.
The Japanese community in Düsseldorf was intensively involved in preparations for Japan Day. At this year’s festival on 21 May, visitors from Germany and abroad can look forward to an authentic and diverse range of music, dance, sport and culinary arts. Traditional and modern Japanese culture and numerous typical Japanese sports will be presented on three stages. The Rhine embankment promenade will be lined with around 90 information, activity and gastronomy marquees. Japan Day has also developed into an important meeting place for international manga fans, many of whom will be attending in elaborate and colourful costumes. The highlight of the festival is the spectacular Japanese fireworks display which will light up the sky above the Rhine in the late evening, and this year takes “Trees, Flowers, Animals – The World of Nature” as its theme. The tradition has grown up that the fireworks are specially transported from Japan to Düsseldorf, and are set off by a Japanese pyrotechnician.
Two days later, on 23 May, Japan Business Day will be taking place at the Hotel InterContinental Düsseldorf. The Business Day is an established forum for high-calibre German and Japanese representatives from business, industry associations and politics.
This year, the event is devoted to the theme of “Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation – Utopia or Reality? New Business Models for Japanese and German Businesses.” The event will engage with trends and innovations in Germany, NRW and Japan, and will explore potential for cooperation. One of the keynote speeches this year will be given by Dr. Tomoaki Kubo, Secretary General of the Robot Revolution Initiative. Japan Business Day is organised by the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Energy, Industry, Medium-Sized Companies and Skilled Trades, NRW.Invest, the Japan-Tag Düsseldorf/NRW e.V. association, the state capital Düsseldorf, the Japanese-German Business Association, the Japan External Trade Organization, and the Düsseldorf Chamber of Commerce and Industry.