"Japan's capital"  on the rhine

Japan in Düsseldorf and NRW

For Japan, Düsseldorf is the number one city in Germany. Traders were the trailblazers for this development that has taken place over the last six decades. The traders were followed by their families and gradually a typical infrastructure grew up: retail trade, banks, doctors, bookshops, forwarding agents, insurers, a Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a Consulate-General. A Japanese school and Japanese kindergartens were established. Since 2014 the Japanese airline ANA has been offering a direct flight connection between Düsseldorf and Tokyo. All of this allows one to speak of “Japan’s capital” on the Rhine when the subject of Düsseldorf comes up.


In the 1920s it was initially the international port of Hamburg and then Berlin that were the most important places in Germany for Japan. After the Second World War there was huge demand in Japan for machinery and heavy industry products. Düsseldorf – then known as the “Ruhr’s writing desk”– was the ideal place to acquire this sought-after technology, in particular the know-how for steel and machine construction. Düsseldorf also benefited from its central location in Europe’s most important conurbation, thus proving to be the ideal place for the Japanese for all sales and acquisition matters.

400 Japanese companies based in Düsseldorf
After isolated Japanese “scouts” started coming to Düsseldorf as of 1952, the trading firm of Mitsubishi was listed in the local Commercial Register in 1954. The trading house of Okura & Co. followed in 1957. The Japanese community grew – slowly at first, but then very quickly – keeping time with Japan’s international commercial success. Today the Japanese community in Düsseldorf is the third-largest in Europe after London and Paris. Around 8,400 Japanese nationals live in the Düsseldorf city area alone, with some 14,800 in North Rhine-Westphalia as a whole. Almost 620 Japanese companies are operating in NRW, around 400 of them in the state capital itself. Japanese companies in North Rhine-Westphalia employ more than 52,600 people (as in 2020).

Japanese activities have long since expanded beyond the city’s borders. Companies have settled all around Düsseldorf, especially space-intensive ones. Thus more than one-quarter of the Japanese people in Germany live in the Düsseldorf region. Other cities such as Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich – which are of interest to certain sectors – lag far behind.

Understanding, congeniality and mutual helpfulness characterise the relationship between Japanese and German citizens, encouraged by the German-Japanese Association founded in 1964, as well as by the ongoing dialogue between the City and the Japanese community. Despite the reserve that is typical of the country, Japan’s sons and daughters are a natural part of the picture at traditional Rhineland festivals, and their presence helps to enrich the city’s artistic and musical life.


Japan in Düsseldorf. The Story of Little Tokyo

The streets around Immermannstrasse are known far beyond Düsseldorf as Little Tokyo on the Rhine. This is where you can get the best ramen in town (although you may have to queue!), visit Japanese supermarkets and be amazed – and perhaps a little confused – by what the stores have to offer. In this film, six people of Japanese origin offer a very personal insight into their lives in the city. Ceramics artist Jimu Kobayashi, chef Masao Kobayashi, magician Yuta Maruyama, food influencer Miki ‘Mila’ Furue, dancer Kunie Baba and her son, the choreographer Takao Baba, are joined by Japanologist Dr. Konstantin Plett, who explains what outside influences and decisions paved the way for Little Tokyo and why Düsseldorf has become an international magnet for Japanese people and Japanophiles.


Visit Düsseldorf

Little Tokyo

The Japanese quarter along Immermannstrasse

For more: Visit Düsseldorf