Saturday, 29 June 2013

Japan Day Dusseldorf 2013 ( part1 ) : Japanese house, temple and fireworks.

Duesseldorf ,in Germany , not far from the Belgian border, houses a large number of Japanese businesses and one of the largest Japanese communities in Europe.
Once a year , they organize a Japan Day with market and events and in the evening a fireworks display.
The Eko House in Duesseldorf, where I'd visited the Japanese garden last year , holds a special open door event during the Japan Day : a unique opportunity to visit the buddhist Temple and their Japanese Wooden House.

I was frankly amazed at how richly decorated the Buddhist temple was. 

Above the two paintings of peacocks on each side of the main altar, were very detailed gilded ( gold foil plated ) wood carvings displaying scenes with peacocks.
The panel on the left :

 and the woodcarving above it :

The panel on the right :

and the woodcarving above it :

the beautiful wood patterns of the ceiling plates ,

the copiously decorated gilded lanterns ,

and the altar itself , decorated with fresh flower bouquets.

It was dark in there : I used 2 seconds of exposure time ( from such a distance a flash is useless ).

Underneath the main hall was a display of beautifully crafted unique japanese puppets with the theme "Watching the fireworks".

Older people watching the fireworks above them ,

and younger ones.

Of course, this late in the evening , not every child manages to stay awake :) .

The Eko House also has a wooden Japanese house in the back , that was open for visitors.
View along the hallway :

I have taken all the pictures below , while sitting in seiza position, so the views are the same as you would get , when living and sitting there.
Large room next to the dining room :

View of the front garden when sitting in the main room :

View of the back garden when sitting in the dining room : it's easy to imagine you're in Japan.

We were not allowed to go out in the gardens, but when you clean the glass of fingerprints and push your lens right up to the window, you can't tell the difference.

Above the separating doors between both rooms were these wooden panels with depictions of birds and Fuji-san , made by see through out gaps in the wood, so they can be viewed from both sides of the wall.

Visible from a small window in the entry of the house , where we left our shoes, was a delightful small 'dry' garden.

In another cellar of the Japan House , I found  an exposition of some unique ceramics with the theme "Flying Ash and Traces of Fire - Bizen Ceramics". The ceramics were made by Fujiwara Kei (1899-1983) from Bizen-Okayama and on loan from a private German collection.

These ceramics are made without glaze : the patterns and colours are made by interaction with the ashes and fire circulating in the wood fired oven.
The black spots are made by falling ash.

I think these are tea ceremony flower vases.


This would be lovely for serving grilled fish.

Each piece is unique, since the artisan can  'steer' the colouring slightly by the way the oven is fired and where the pices are located in the oven, but it all depends on the flows of heated air and ashes in the oven what the result will be.

I made most of these pictures by leaning against a stand or the floor or the wall to get the long exposures  , but for the shot of the sake sets I set up the tripod (1/6 th second f4 at 200ASA for optimum colour and low noise), because there was nothing to support the camera.

I'd love to have such an ochoko (sake cup) and tokkuri (serving bottle) ! Unfortunately , Fujiwara Kei died in the eighties. If I ever visit Bizen, I'll buy me a few sets.

The second part of this post will cover the fireworks at the Japan Day.

Japan Day Dusseldorf 2013 ( part2 ) : evening fireworks.

A shot of the market at Japan Day ( more than 60,000 visitors !) : extremely crowded and near impossible to get good pictures of the stalls, so I decided to skip this.

One  highlight of the Japan Day in Duesseldorf is always the fireworks display in the evening.
The theme this year was " Heart of Japan", promising Japanese motifs like cherry blossoms, Japanese characters and other Japanese motifs.

I set up my camera on the bridge across from the fireworks, more than half an hour in advance to get a good spot. It was cold and windy up on the bridge there.
View from the bridge : the Japanese market is on the left of the Rhine. In the distance you can see the television tower.
( for the best viewing of these photos : darken your room a bit or better yet : hook your laptop to a large display )

Several boating companies were offering 'firework viewing' ferry rides ( at a price ) , manoeuvring into place on the Rhine, offering their passengers a close and comfortable (and dry!) view of the fireworks ( including lots of good food and drinks ).

Just before the fireworks started , rain clouds moved in and it started to rain... I managed to keep my camera reasonably dry , but I did have to wipe the lens dry regularly. ( Next time I'll bring an umbrella ). That's why I ALWAYS have a UV filter on all my lenses. If I scratch the filter , it's just 65 Euro for a new filter, but scratch the lens and you're looking at a much more expensive replacement.

Because of the rain , the wind and the distance and because some explosions were quite small not every picture is as sharp as I'd like it to be, but for once I've broken my own rule of only posting perfectly sharp pictures, because I feel the colours were too lovely not to publish them.  I hope you enjoy the not so sharp ones anyway.

The opening of the display : fountains of sparks.

A lot of the fireworks featured Japanese flowers.

At this point , the size of the display became much larger : multiple very bright streamers and smaller colourful dashes.

Very big , very noisy !

One of the trademark fireworks of Duesseldorf : the "golden rain". They send up several fireworks at once to fill the sky with long golden streamers.

After the golden rain, lots of little colourful explosions.

and very big ones

A collection of flowers.

Japanese characters, but from this sideview , not possible to see which ones :)

Looks like palm trees.

The end of the evening : a massive display of very bright ( and loud) white explosions,

that completely lit up the river.

Next year I'll definitely come back to photograph this again and get more pictures..