A Japanese Garden in Duesseldorf

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"A Japanese Garden in Duesseldorf"

About 8000 Japanese citizens live in the German city of Düsseldorf

That makes the Japanese only the 7th largest expat community in this urban centre of roughly 600,000 inhabitants, but it would be difficult to argue that Moroccans and Ukrainians – to name only two of the six larger national communities – have had a similarly prominent impact on the streets and boulevards of West Germany’s most elegant city.

This is mainly due to the fact that the Japanese – more perhaps than any other nation in the world – have very much their own way of doing things: so much so that when their companies were starting to do business in Germany following WWII, they had to build a right little colony to provide their middle and upper management with the home comforts of Japanese furniture shops, Japanese groceries, and Japanese restaurants. There is probably no other place in Europe where you find such a wide array of excellent Japanese eateries. (Try it when you are in the area.)

A Zen Japanese Garden in Duesseldorf

The Japanese also have their very own traditions when it comes to landscaping. Entire books have been written about the philosophies on which the Japanese garden is based, so don’t expect me to wrap it all up in a single paragraph. I can tell you only so much: Zen Buddhism appears to play a major role, and so does symbolism – everything in a Japanese garden stands for itself, but also for some higher (often aesthetic) principle. Contemplation and meditation are important, but so is joy. Joy in simplicity, that is – and balance.

"A Zen Japanese Garden in Duesseldorf"

The Japanese Garden of Duesseldorf was laid out in the 1970s, paid for by Japanese businessmen and generously handed over as a gift for the people of their host city. It is not a copy of a specific garden in Japan (that would run against the principles of Japanese gardening architecture) but a unique creation.

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Japanese garden architects still come to Düsseldorf every three years to oversee the garden and its development – you can see from that alone how seriously the Japanese take their gardening. (These trips are also paid for by the Japanese business community. Whatever you can say about the Japanese: they do not do things by half. That’s probably why they are so successful.)

"Part of the japanese garden in Duesseldorf"

The garden is very pretty, but – it must be said – also rather small. It takes you longer to read the two info panels at the entrance – which explain the aesthetic principles of the Japanese Garden to you in a rather detailed and academic way (this is Germany, after all) – than to walk around it once.

The garden may be small, but all the elements that are typical for Japanese landscaping are there: a waterfall …

"the waterfall part of a japanese garden in duesseldorf"

…stone lanterns, …

"some Japanese stone lanterns"

… a bridge.

"a bridge in a Zen Japanese garden"

The Japanese Garden is located in Düsseldorf’s Nordpark by the banks of the river Rhine, easy to reach from the city’s central railway station by city rail lines 78 or 79.

The Nordpark itself is also well worth a visit, once you are there, not least because it is some sort of a historic monument. It was created in 1936 for the Third Reich’s “Exhibition of a Productive People” and cannot really hide its original colours, from the monumental entrance …

"statues at the entrance of the Nordpark of Duessoldorf"

… to the water fountains.

"fountains in the Nordpark of Duessoldorf"

I don’t know whether water fountains can be meaningfully referred to as “fascist”, but if they can, the ones from the Nordpark certainly qualify. They appear to represent a variation of the same aesthetic principles that distinguish the buildings of Albert Speer or, come to think of it, the Nazi holiday village of Prora: take a simple idea and repeat it ad-as-closely-infinitum as you possibly can. (It then occurred to me that German pop music, the deutscher Schlager, is built up in exactly the same way. Make of that what you will.)

Not all of the Nordpark, however, echoes the sound of Kraft-durch-Freude gymnasts marching in lockstep: there are many charming and lyrical corners, too …

"a summer garden in full blook in Nordpark Duesseldorf"

… and all in all, it complements the Japanese Garden of Duesselforf rather nicely. A walk around the park will easily occupy the rest of your afternoon and make the journey from Düsseldorf town centre worth your while.

Have a read of the other walks and hikes we’ve done in Germany. And don’t fail to  join us in our next walk. Subscribe to our updates via email or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Why not include us in your G+ circles too?

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