Düsseldorf, or Duesseldorf for those who don't use the special character used in the German language. The capital of Nordrhein Westfalen, the most densely populated state in Germany – the capital, but not the biggest city, Köln (Cologne in English) is considerably larger.
Düsseldorf is an unexpected gem; It may not look like much and when you look at the city's website you don't get an impression that a lot is going on, but when you start scratching the surface you notice that there is – and that's not just in the international community. And no, I don't just say that because I lived there for some years – I say it because I mean it; Once you learn what to look for you find events around every corner, in every part of the city, it is just not always advertised well.
One of the most unexpected things about Düsseldorf is that it is, in fact, very Asian. Did you know that one of the largest japanese communities outside of Japan is here?
Nowhere in Europe have I found so much Asian food and that is partly what makes me feel so home in Taiwan. Japanese food and japanese culture is immensely popular in the whole of Taiwan, this beautiful country in the middle of the sea, but it is almost equally easy to find Japanese (or Asian) products in Düsseldorf, if you know where to go.
The concentration of Japanese supermarkets, hair dressers, bakeries, travel agencies, clothes shops, hotels, book shops and not the least restaurants is especially high on and around Immermannstrasse, a street starting more or less around the corner from Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof, the main station. A visit to at least one of the japanese supermarkets on Immermannstrasse is almost a must when you travel to Düsseldorf, even if you don't have a kitchen; It blew my mind the first time I was in there, not having been to Japan and not yet having spent much time in Asia (yet) – the rows and rows of tofu of different types, the vegetables that I hadn't seen before and definitely didn't know the name of even in English or Swedish, the billion types of rice cookers, the Japanese snacks – the list is long.
It was in Düsseldorf I learnt to cook Asian – not in Taiwan as you could have expected.
Do make sure Japan town is included in your itinerary when you visit Düsseldorf, Germany!
And if you can – take the opportunity to visit Düsseldorf for the most well known Japanese event – Japan day. Japan day 2014, a day where everything Japanese, from manga characters to sushi makers, gather in and around Düsseldorf Altstadt – old town, a fantastic day always finishing off with the most amazing firework imaginable – it is well worth the trip.
More about Japanday.