Japanese gardens are highly regarded for their beauty, symbolism and zen atmosphere. And although a trip to Japan is always recommended, you don’t have to travel all the way to find a nice example of Japanese garden design. In the Belgian provincial town of Hasselt you can find the biggest Japanese garden in Europe and it’s especially worth a visit in autumn when it turns into a fairyland of colors.
In the garden water is playing a big role. A stream connects the different ponds and a large waterfall flows into the iris pond. In the old tradition people walked over the Yatsuhashi, a zigzag bridge in the pond to plant an iris in the pond to remember a person that died or went away. Large koi fish greet you near a pebble beach near the ceremony house.
This garden is also worth a visit in Spring when the cherry blossoms cover the garden in a pink blanket, so I’ll have to go back to also have a look then.
The garden is also a place where you can enjoy some Japanese culture like making Ikebana flower arrangements or participating in a traditional tea ceremony. Have a look on their website for their calendar. This week you shouldn’t miss the Kikumatsuri, chrysanthemum festival. Unlike us, the Japanese see this flower as a symbol of longevity and happiness and the garden is adorned with large flower installations from flower artist Tomas de Bruyne and his Japanese friend Naoki Sasaki.
Japanse Tuin Hasselt : Gouverneur Verwilghensingel 23, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium