Discovering Tokyo’s international side: A visit to the German Cultural Center

Japan is a country with a relatively small population of foreigners. Nonetheless, the capital Tokyo is slowly changing, turning into an international city. Especially the Minato Wards is a good example of international vibes in the city. This is due to the huge number of embassies gathering in this part of Tokyo. Therefore, you get the change to meet a lot of people from different cultural backgrounds.
Every spring, an event series called “Minato City World Festival” is held. This event is an opportunity to discover the diversity of Tokyo. By joining one of the events called “Minato City Stamp Rally of Embassies and Diplomatic Missions” you will get the chance to take a look inside of foreign embassies in Tokyo!
So why don’t you join us on this adventure? All you need is a “passport” which is available at the Minato Ward Tourist Information Center, the Ward Office, and a number of hotels inside the Minato Ward.


On the right: This year’s passport

During the event, my Korean friend and reporter Yena and I decided to visit the “German Cultural Center” in the Akasaka area. Since I am German, this wasn’t a first-time visit at all. I often go to the “German Cultural Center”, so I was curious how Yena would like it.

Goethe Institut

Apple green is the color of the Goethe Institut

The “German Cultural Center” (official name: “Goethe-Institut”) is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. And the best thing is: most of the events taking place at the center are free of charge!

Welcome to Germany in Tokyo!

We entered the red brickstone building (very German!!) and climbed the stairs to the library on the second floor. We got passport stamps for the stamp rally at the information desk. If you collect enough stamps, you can participate in the lottery that takes place at the “Minato City World Carnival” scheduled to be held on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (5 stamps = 1 time)


The first stamp for our passports

The info desk staff invited us to join a short German class and a library tour. Of course, we were in!
In a separate room, a German teacher of the Goethe-Institut taught us German greetings.

Guten Tag!

Guten Tag!

“Guten Tag! Ich heiße… . Freut mich!”
(Hello! My name is … . Thank you!)

Guten Tag!

Yena tried really hard to pronounce the German words – and she was really good! There were quite a lot of participants, most of them came in small groups of friends, as well as couples and parents with children. Only a few had come alone. When Yena courageously greeted a man sitting by himself at the same table in German, he smiled as he also tried to greet her in German. Seeing a Korean and a Japanese talking in German to each other was a strange but heart-warming experience for me. I guess this is what intercultural exchange is all about.


The German lesson was a wonderful experience

German novels, DVDs and games

After the German lesson, we joined the library tour. The library of the Goethe-Institut offers its users German books (including the latest novels), German DVDs, German teaching materials, German books translated into Japanese, children’s picture books, board games, etc. Well, almost everything related to Germany. Besides, the loan is free, and anyone can use it.


Exploring the world of German literature

Yena and I looked at the board games, studied the map of Germany, read German teaching materials… and then it was already time to go home. Before leaving the building, Yena told me that she really enjoyed the German lesson and that she would like to study German and visit the country. I was really glad that she had a good time.


German boardgames are famous worldwide!

How about you? Which cultural institution or embassy would you like to visit?

Minato Ward World Festival 2019

Here is an article of the embassies I visited in 2018:
(Afghanistan & Bahrain)

Here is an article of the embassies I visited in 2017:
(Fiji, Taiwan & Panama)

Goethe-Institut Tokyo

7-5-56 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0052, Japan

Access: 10min on foot from Aoyama-itchome Station

Events: https://www.goethe.de/ins/jp/de/sta/tok/ver.cfm

(Check out the German Film Week in March 2019!!)

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I was born and raised in Kiel/Germany. When I was 16 I came to Japan for the first time. I fell in love with this beautiful country, so I returned after my university graduation. Since then, I have been living in Tokyo - and I don't plan to change anything about that ;-) My hobbies are taking a stroll around the city, taking photos and drinking coffee.

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