Free time: Colorful hustle and bustle on the banks of the Rhine: Japan Day is coming up again

Japan Day in Düsseldorf returns on May 21, just in time for its 20th birthday. The cultural offer has been expanded to include new program items.

It is considered an unwritten law: Anyone who lives in Europe and wants to immerse themselves deeply in Japanese culture must travel to Düsseldorf. There are numerous restaurants, supermarkets and specialist shops with products from the land of the rising sun, especially around Immermannstraße near the main train station. Many thousands of compatriots live and work in the state capital and thus form the largest Japanese population group on the European continent.

No wonder that festivals related to the country in East Asia have a long tradition in Düsseldorf. In 1983 and 1993 there was the Japan Weeks, around the turn of the millennium the Japan Year – and since 2002 the Japan Day has always been in May. At least as long as no pandemic interfered. The 2020 edition was completely canceled, but last year there was at least a small festival in the courtyard garden and digital offers on the Internet. Ole Friedrich, Managing Director of Düsseldorf Tourism, remembers: “It was well received, but of course nothing compared to Japan Day, as we know it from the past and as we want to organize it again this year.”

Part of Japan Day: martial arts, cosplay and taiko

This is accompanied by a wide range of offers for the 20th birthday. On the main stage at Burgplatz, children and adults alike play taiko drum shows, at the Untere Rheinwerft Budoka present Japanese martial arts such as Ju-Jutsu, Judo and Aikido, and the area around the Reuterkaserne is the marketplace for all manga and anime fans. Of course, the crowning glory is the traditional fireworks display, which starts at 11 p.m. this year.

Regular guests can also look forward to innovations, as Ole Friedrich explains: “The plans have not been carried over from 2020 to this year, we replan Japan Day every year. We wanted to present the comprehensive offer that people are familiar with, but we also made changes. The marketplace is now part of Japan Day, and we offer a children’s program there. We also positioned the stages differently to have more space on the floor.”

Cosplay competition for a trip to Japan

For example, the pop culture stage is moving from Mannesmannufer to Johannes-Rau-Platz. A karaoke and cosplay competition is held here. Whoever wins the latter can present themselves on the main stage at Burgplatz at 5.45 p.m. and also look forward to a very special prize: cooperation partner Japan Airlines pays for the return flight for a vacation in Japan.

It’s not only worth traveling a little further for disguise artists, which many people make anyway, as Ole Friedrich knows: “In our last visitor survey in 2018, 55 percent came from North Rhine-Westphalia, 33 percent from other German federal states. And: 92 percent not only come for Japan Day, but also do other things in Düsseldorf. Go shopping, city walks, guided tours and much more.”

Hotels are very busy

The Japan Day is indispensable for Düsseldorf as a tourism location. “This major event has a lot of appeal – in NRW, in Germany, but also internationally. Many from the cosplay scene deliberately meet here to present themselves, but many families also come to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. Hotel bookings always develop very positively this weekend,” says Friedrich. If you don’t have a parking space at the hotel or are arriving spontaneously, we strongly recommend using local public transport. There is hardly any parking space, the Rheinbahn uses special buses and trams throughout the day in the direction of the city center and the banks of the Rhine.

Once there, some guests may have to get used to such a crowd again. In any case, those responsible around Ole Friedrich expect “comparable visitor numbers as before the pandemic, around 600,000 people spread over the day.” After a two-year break, they can finally be amazed again: about creative Japanese culinary creations, elaborately designed costumes, the performance of the group Charan-Po-Rantan (9.40 p.m., main stage), which combines Japanese pop music with French chansons and Balkan beats – or simply about the general colorful diversity that Japan Day has brought with it for 20 years now.

Japan Day, May 21, 12:30 p.m. to midnight, Rhine promenade and surroundings, Düsseldorf. Further information and the complete program can be found at

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