The Ultimate Guide to Japan Day in Düsseldorf
This year, the Japan Day celebrations are on May 20th and hundreds of thousands of visitors will flood through the city to celebrate the amazing festivities going on during the day… but what exactly is going on?
Here’s a full guide (in English) so that you can explore the cities coolest events this weekend without missing out on a single blink.
We should probably get this out of the way first… what is Japan Day?
Japan Day (Japan-Tag) is the largest Japanese festival in the world and is celebrated annually in Düsseldorf, Germany around May or June (this year on May 20th). Surprised? You shouldn’t be. North Rhine-Westphalia is home to one of the largest Japanese communities outside of Japan. That means that the weekend is going to be filled with Japanese celebrations, traditions, food and culture. The festivities will take place at Burgplatz and spread throughout the Altstadt and along the Rhine Promenade.
If you can read German, you can actually disregard this entire post and go check out the official program guide on the Japan Day website (I’ll save you some time now). If you can’t read German, then I’ve put together a guide which includes some of the best activities going on during Japan Day that you won’t be able to miss.
- 1:00 pm: The opening ceremonies will take place at Burgplatz and include an introduction from the Mayor of Düsseldorf and the President of the Japanese Clubs
- 2:05 – 5:05 pm: Burgplatz will be all about kids, celebrating the local Japanese Kindergartens
- 5:45 – 9:10 pm: The stage will be filled with dance, pop music and the winning presentation for the cosplay awards
- 9:50 pm onwards: Rock out to the music of AKARA
- 12:00 – 7:00 pm: The entire Rhine Promenade will be filled with tents where companies and clubs are able to promote their facilities and products. If you’re interested in taking part in some more Japanese cultural activities around Düsseldorf, this is where you’re going to want to be.
Mannesmannufer (the promenade by KIT and Apollo)
- 2:00 – 8:10 pm: All about cosplay, karaoke, songs and games. This is a great spot to snap some photographs of Japan Day as there will be hundreds of people from all over the world gathered together in the most unreal cosplay costumes you’ve ever seen.
Johannes-Rau-Platz (by the State Parliament Building/Landtag Building)
- 12:00 – 6:45 pm: All about Japanese sports. If you take an interest in the art of Japanese sports, there will be performances throughout the day and opportunities to even test some of these sports out yourself. You can expect to experience Sumo, Judo, Kyudo, Ping Pong, Karate, Ju-Jitsu and many others.
- 1:00 – 7:00 pm: There will also be an abundance of kid (and adult) crafting opportunities. Children can learn how to build Japanese masks and the adults can head on over to the front of the Landtag building and learn how to craft anime and build robots.
There are various other locations taking part in Japan Day this year including the following:
- Black Box: Playing famous Japanese short films
- EKO Haus (where the cherry blossoms bloom every year): There will be a small concert in the temple and the doors are open to the public and free for everyone
- Hetjens – The German Ceramic Museum: Instead of learning all about German ceramics, the German Ceramics Museum will celebrate Japan Day by featuring some of the coolest Japanese porcelain from the 1700’s
- Düsseldorf City Museum (Stadtmuseum): The city museum will be showcasing the history and stories behind the Düsseldorf and Japanese relationships (something many visitors ask a lot about when visiting the city). There will also be a display of large and miniature origami and katakana
- Japanese Restaurants: The restaurants around the city will be fully staffed and ready to take your order, so why not celebrate with a little bit of Japanese food?
The Grand Finale: Japanese Fireworks May 20th @ 11:00 pm
If you’ve never experienced Japan Day before and aren’t a big fan of crowds… you’re still going to have to get yourself out of the house for this incredible display of fireworks along the Rhine River. The fireworks are set off on the grass on the Oberkassel side right by the Rheinknie Bridge (and the DJH Hostel).
If you’re looking for the best view spot, here are a couple options:
- Kasematten / Rhine Promenade
- In front of Apollo / KIT (Kunst im Tunnel)
- On the Rheinknie Bridge
- Behind the Landtag Building on the Promenade (you get the view of the fireworks and the bridge – perfect for photographers)
TIP: You’re not the only one who wants to watch the fireworks… people start claiming their spots earlier on in the day. Now is your chance to come up with a genius plan as to how you’re going to mark your turf for the evening display of fireworks.
This was a quick summary for those of you who want an overall input on how the events pan out during the course of the day. However, if you want the full program guide, be sure to download it on the Official Japan Day website.
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