img_5534Japanese 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. img_1130The garden is a gift from Hasselt’s Japanese sister city Itami to celebrate the strong ties between them. The 2,5 hectares big garden is designed in the style of 17th century tea gardens.

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. img_5505Of course this garden also has a traditional clay tea house, which lays quite secluded on a hill of moss. A stream meanders trough the garden and little waterfalls bring calming sounds.

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.  img_5500The 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. img_5499This festival is organised every two years. (click on the pictures to enlarge)

Japanse Tuin Hasselt : Gouverneur Verwilghensingel 23, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium

Opening Hours : 2016 : until 30 October / 2017 : 4 March to 31 October / tuesday to sunday from 10:00 to 17:00 ( official holidays from 13:00 to 17:00)

http://www.japansetuin.be