An Autumn Trip to Düsseldorf

The below post mentions the Japanese Quarter of Düsseldorf, which I also covered in a post published about two years ago. However, I’ve written this one to be more informative and – hopefully – less of a ramble.

For some months now I’ve been part of a Meetup photography group based in Düsseldorf. Last November the group organised a meet-up event in Düsseldorf’s Nordpark, with the aim of making photos in the Japanese Garden in the dying autumn light of the afternoon. (The Japanese Garden sits in a corner of the Nordpark.)

At this point I think it’s a good idea to add that my first visit to Düsseldorf was in August 2015 (it was also my first visit to Germany), and since then I’ve been to the city many times. Nowadays, though, I don’t travel to the city as often as I used to.

The Japanese Quarter

But, when I do go to Düsseldorf, my first stop is almost always the Japanese Quarter (das japanische Viertel). I make it a point to dine at either Yabase or Na Ni Wa, both of which are located in the quarter along Klosterstraße. The former is known for sashimi, sushi and cooked dishes (I generally only order the katsudon there), while the latter specialises in ramen dishes and there is always a queue outside. They’ve even installed space heaters so that you stay nice and warm while waiting for your table in the winter!

Restaurant sign of Na Ni Wa, an eatery specialising in ramen.
Restaurant sign of Na Ni Wa

In addition to Na Ni Wa, there is another apparently popular ramen restaurant by the name of Takumi. I’ve only eaten at their Rotterdam branch, but I’m sure the food tastes much better at the original branch. As with Na Ni Wa, I don’t ever remember walking outside Takumi and not seeing a queue.

People queueing outside Takumi, a ramen restaurant.
Patrons queueing outside the original branch of Takumi

Apart from Yabase and Na Ni Wa, I don’t dine at any of the other Japanese or Korean restaurants in the area. The only other restaurant I’ve tried was a place specialising in chicken and located just a few metres away from Yabase. I think I ate there only because Yabase was full and I didn’t want to wait long to get a table.

Menu items on wooden boards displayed above a Japanese restaurant's entrance.
A restaurant that is neither Yabase nor Na Ni Wa

Maybe it’s because I’ve been visiting this part of Düsseldorf for almost four years now, but I’ve always found the Klosterstraße area to be rather cosy and comfortable. There is a busy street running parallel to it called Immermannstraße, but that I find to be too hectic for my liking. Japanese and Korean restaurants can also be found along this other street, along with a large (East) Asian supplies store.

Japanese flag on a small delivery van parked opposite the Na Ni Wa ramen restaurant.
A small delivery vehicle parked opposite Na Ni Wa

In addition to all the Japanese restaurants in the Japanese Quarter is a Roman-Catholic church I’ve since come to associate with the area due to its proximity. Called the Sankt Mariä Empfängnis, or also the Marienkirche, this church was built at the end of the 19th century and stands along Oststraße, which runs perpendicular to Klosterstraße.

Spire of the Sankt Mariä Empfängnis in Düsseldorf, also known as the Marienkirche.
Such interesting triangular patterns!

Düsseldorf Nordpark

This time round I was visiting Düsseldorf for a photography group event. After my gastronomic ritual at Yabase, I walked around the Japanese Quarter for a bit and made the photos displayed above. Then I made my way to the Nordpark for the Meetup photography event.

More a photo walk than an actual event, we started with a round of introductions, followed by two hours of wandering around the park and making photos.

A bench in the Nordpark of Düsseldorf, with sun rays shining through on of the gaps in the backrest.
The sun was already low in the sky when we were at the Nordpark

Below are two photos that were obligatory for the season of autumn, taken in the Japanese Garden. As the sun started setting and the light got warmer and softer, the oranges and yellows of the leaves started standing out more.

The Japanese Garden is situated in the northwest corner of the Nordpark. Its creation was supported by the Japanese chamber of commerce and, in 1975, the garden was presented to the city of Düsseldorf by the Japanese community living there. Just so you know, the city is home to the largest Japanese community in Germany, and one of the largest in Europe.

Symmetrical composition of an orange-yellow tree in the Japanese Garden in Düsseldorf.
Leaves from what looks like a Japanes maple tree in the Nordpark.

I also saw this tree with a very distinct arrangement of its branches. Its leaves were also unique in their shape. I must’ve seen such trees before but never paid attention to the way the branches spread out in such a straight and perpendicular manner from the trunks. The arrangement is just so precise!

View of a tree from the bottom, with thin, needle-link leaves.
What a cool arrangement of branches!

Here are two more photos I made during the photo walk. I spent the bulk of my time walking around slowly and trying to capture something interesting. To be frank, most of what I thought was interesting turned out to not be so, meaning that I deleted most of the photos I made. After the Meetup event I made my way back to the city centre to get some dinner.

A bird feeder with moss growing on its roof in the Japanese Garden.
A bird feeder
A tree with most of its branches and leaves stretching out on one side.
I’m not quite sure why the branches are growing to only one side of this tree

Back to the Altstadt

By the time I got to the old city, or Altstadt, it was already dark. There was an autumn fair in an open area not far from the Promenade and Maritime Museum. I saw a ferris wheel but don’t really remember much else of the fair.

A ferris wheel near the Promenade in the old city of Düsseldorf.
Ferris wheel at the autumn fair

This next photo I ought to elaborate on a little. Schwan is a small chain of restaurants serving mainly German fare. Except for one outlet that’s in the city of Neuss, the rest are all located in Düsseldorf. They are known for their brunch buffets and I particularly like their schnitzel, which the restaurant menus refer to as Schwanitzel. My favourite is the one with the mushroom sauce – the dish is served with thick chunks of mushrooms in the sauce and it goes so well with the pork!

If you’re ever in Düsseldorf, apart from trying out the restaurants in the Japanese Quarter, make sure to also visit a Schwan outlet and try one of the dishes. The prices are reasonable and the portions hearty.

Featured menu items on a sign of the German restaurant Schwan, in Düsseldorf.

In conclusion

Düsseldorf will always occupy a special place in my heart for being the first German city I’ve ever visited. As mentioned in the introduction, this was back in August 2015 and I chose to visit this specific city because I learnt about its Japanese Quarter and Yabase on Google. To be more specific, I learnt that Yabase had good ratings and served katsudon. I enjoy that dish very much so this was enough reason for me to pick Düsseldorf ahead of a larger one like Cologne.

I would love to explore more of this lovely city and ought to make it a point to visit districts and places that are outside the city centre. When that happens, as I’m sure it will, I’ll post photos on this blog!