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From Value One, Winter 2011-2012 No. 35
Metal One Deutschland GmbH
Our Territory Is Wherever Business Exists

Guten Tag! Metal One Deutschland's territory includes not just our German base but all of Europe as well. In fact, the scope of our efforts stretches beyond Europe to anyplace business is being done. Our end users are primarily in the automotive, electrical machinery, and construction equipment industries. We sometimes import from Japan and elsewhere in Asia to Europe, and export from Europe to areas outside Europe, but most of our business is done within Europe's borders.
Our office is in Düsseldorf, which is part of the Ruhr industrial region. We also have a branch an hour away by car in Born in neighboring Holland at the Netherlands Car B.V. (NedCar), which is Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's manufacturing base. The five people shown in the photo are our personnel. Our small but talented team works hard.

Düsseldorf cityscape—barge transports can be seen even today along the Rhine River

Around 8,000 Japanese Live in the "Village of the Düssel River"

The Düssel in Düsseldorf is the name of the small river that flows through the city, and dorf is German for village. As such, it means "village of the Düssel River." One notable facet of Düsseldorf is that it has the third-highest population of Japanese in Europe after London and Paris: according to the regional consulate, approximately 8,000 Japanese were living here as of October 2010. Because there are only around 600,000 people here, that represents an amazing 1.3 percent of the population. Although lower than London or Paris in absolute terms, that figure is tops in Europe in terms of regional population density.
The original reason Japanese began to move here was the steel industry, our business field. Germany was recovering as rapidly as Japan was after World War II, and Japanese trading companies started setting up machinery department offices in Düsseldorf—the central city of the Ruhr industrial region with its concentration of manufacturers—to export German steel-manufacturing equipment to Japan. Next, steel department offices were opened as sales bases for Japanese steel products. Japanese schools and various other kinds of infrastructure followed, which encouraged more Japanese companies to settle in the region.

A New Cultural Import—"Costume Play"
 

 

Japan Day is a big regional event. Japanese culture, from origami to "costume play," is well known as a result.
   

Japanese society in Düsseldorf has made determined efforts to become part of the regional community, so relations have become much closer. Japan-Tag (Japan Day) has been held annually since 2002, usually on a Saturday in May, although it was postponed until October last year as a result of the huge earthquake that hit eastern Japan in March. The event attracts between 700,000 and a million people, and is one of the area's biggest seasonal attractions.
We were blessed with sunny weather—known as Kaiserwetter (emperor's weather) in German—for the most recent Japan Day. The finale was a fireworks display along the Rhine River by pyrotechnicians invited from Japan. These spectacular fireworks are very popular for their size and intricate patterns. Some people even have parties on boats on the Rhine while viewing the fireworks.
Introducing people to Japanese culture used to mean demonstrating flower arranging, the tea ceremony, origami, and other traditional arts and crafts. Recently, however, reflecting the boom in Japanese comics and cartoons, "cosplay" (costume play) has become another recognized Japanese cultural export. It draws fans from all over, to the extent that complimentary coupons for tours to Japan are offered as prizes at some gatherings. Costume play devotees buy products and eat box lunches on weekends along Immermannstrasse, which is lined with numerous Japanese shops.

The Delights of Home-Brewed Beer

Germany is a land of beer, and beer is brewed all over the country in abundant variety, from beers for export to microbrews sold only in specific places. Bottom fermentation is employed to produce Japan's familiar pale lagers, but top fermentation has been used from the days of old to create the dark brown Altbier (old beer) that is the norm around Düsseldorf. There are some 10 beer halls in the city that began serving between the 16th and 19th centuries where you can enjoy home-brewed beer from the barrel, delicious sausages, meat dishes, and plates featuring seasonal vegetables to the fullest. I hope you visit Germany someday. Willkommen!

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