K ushitei, Kyoto, Takumi, BUDDHA OF SUBURBIA Shochiku... to look at Today there are over 450 Japanese busithe signs in downtown nesses registered in the region, with net Düsseldorf or sales totalling 35 billion euros. About "Dyusseru" as the 8,000 Japanese people live in Düsseldorf Japanese call it you and very comfortably at that, thank you could be excused for very much. thinking you had been Most of them live in spacious apartteleported to the ments in the affluent neighbourhood of wrong continent. Niederkassel on the south bank of the That's right, this city of 578,000 known Rhine, where they have their own kinderas "the writing desk" of the Ruhr indusgarten, school, physician, football club and trial region is the somewhat unlikely even their own weekly newspaper. home of Europe's thirdHere, in the heart of largest Japanese comsleepy suburbia, you will munity hence its find the Eco-House of A MIXED HERITAGE other popular epithet, Japanese Culture, comPROVIDES CREATIVE "Nippon on the Rhine." plete with traditional INSPIRATION. The first major wave wooden architecture, a of Japanese migration Buddhist temple, bell began after the Second tower and Japanese World War, when Mitsubishi Corporation garden something you don't see on discovered the Ruhr region as a source of every street corner in your average Gersteel and other raw materials urgently man town. needed in war-ravaged Japan. Many other Japanese companies folKIMONOS AND KUSHIYAKI lowed suit, choosing to base their EuroThe tight-knit Japanese community largely pean subsidiaries in a city that offers cheap keep to themselves, especially those who rents, a convenient location and infraare temporarily posted in Germany. Many structure that runs like clockwork. speak very little German and struggle to get their mouths around those pesky consonants. But second-generation Japanese migrants draw creative inspiration from their mixed heritage. One is Tina Miyake, a fashion designer with her own rising knitwear label. Her showroom on Ackerstrasse neighbours the trendy district of Flingern, a hotspot for galleries, sushi bars and creative enterprises. "My father came from Nara back in the 60s," says Miyake. "As an Asian-looking woman, Düsseldorf is a fantastic place to live, because I don't stand out! Maybe I felt the culture gap in my teen years, but now my German and Japanese identities get along very well. " Fusing an Asian sensibility with ethical design, Miyake combines contemporary knitwear with recycled kimonos in a succulent palette of earthy tones and oriental pinks, green and blues. "Kimonos have always been a part of my life. The patterns and colour combinations have always fascinated me," she says. Milan and Paris can wait Germany's own fashion capital is, for now, the perfect location to build her label. When the weather is good, expats flock to the riverside cafés. Takumi's chef serves up soup with a smile. Planet kitsch: Toykio Café and Gallery ENG 44 BLUE WINGS APRIL 2012
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