Japan? No, Düsseldorf!

When you look at the following picture, ignoring the title of this post, where do you think I am?

If you thought of Japan, you know that you're wrong, first of all because of the title of the post (I gave too much away with it) and also because the day I'll finally visit Japan I'll be blogging about it for weeks and weeks before even getting there.

Anyhow, back to this post, I had read that there was a large Japanese community in Düsseldorf so one of the first stops was the Japanese area of the city on Immermannstrasse where many Japanese companies have their German or European headquarters. There are some minimarkets selling Japanese ingredients, a bakery and some sushi and ramen restaurants. We picked Na ni wa on the corner of Ostrasse and Klosterstrasse after reading some blogs that said this was the place for ramen. there's always a line to get a table (moving fast enough) but once you're there you'll know it was worth the wait. I'm no ramen expert but my Miso and G's Curry were delicious, and perfect for a cold rainy day. And the gyoza were the best I've ever had. They also have a sushi bar in the opposite corner but we were so full with the ramen that we'll have to come back to Düsseldorf again to have some sushi.

After the culinary approach to the Japanese community we decided to visit the EKO haus, the Japanese house of Culture and Buddhist Understanding. In it, the Japanese living in the area are able to practice and cultivate their customs and culture. But also, the locals have an opportunity to learn about Japanese culture and actively participate in it. Among the events of the centre there are: Buddhist festivals, tea ceremonies, garden parties with musical or theatrical performances, music events, reading and working circles for fundamental Buddhist texts, exhibitions, introductory courses in traditional Japanese arts (such as brush painting, calligraphy, Ikebana, instrumental music, dancing and cooking), lectures , film presentations, etc. (After reading all this in the website I wish I could move to Düsseldorf to participate in all these events). anyhow, they have this beautiful Japanese garden in the Temple grounds which you enter through the "Mountain Gate" - also referred to as the "Triple-Gate"

Next to the gate there's a Purification Basin.

On the other side of the garden, under a pavilion, there's a statue of Prince Shōtoku (Shōtoku Taishi, 574-622), donated to the EKŌ-House in 2002 by the prominent contemporary sculpter Wakei Nagaoka. It was in the reign of Shōtoku that Buddhism came to Japan, and he made major contributions to its becoming widespread there.

One hour before major celebrations, the heavy bronze bell in the bell-tower is struck, in all ten times, at intervals of one minute. On the last day of the year the Joya-no-kane is performed: the bell is struck 108 times, also at one minute intervals, to drive away and scatter the 108 fundamental sufferings of humanity.

The outstanding construction in the building complex is the temple. The ground floor of its main hall is built after the Jōdo-shin Temple in Utsunomiya (north of Tōkyō).

This beautiful complex appears as a peaceful oasis and a must visit in Düsseldorf. The EKO Haus is located in Niederkassel on Brüggener Weg 6. To get there you can take the U-bahn 74,76 or 77, get off in Heerdter Sandberg and walk for about 10 minutes. Otherwise you can take busses 834, 836 or 828 to Niederkasseler Kirchweg and walk for 3 minutes (the City tour hop-on hop-off bus also stops here).
The EKO haus is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 13.00 to 17.00. Check their website for special events and openings: http://www.eko-haus.de/en_index.html

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