Get a glimpse of Japan in Europe's largest Japanese Garden, covering 2.5 hectares in the northeast of Hasselt. The garden is located between the city center and the main ring, yet it exudes serenity and calm.
This beautiful oasis came into being as symbol of friendship. The cities of Hasselt and Itami signed a friendship charter in 1985 to become sister cities. Since then, there have been numerous cultural exchanges but the most permanent and visible one is the Japanese Garden designed by architect Takayuki Inoue.
A cultural trip
The beautiful garden imitates the Japanese scenery and gives visitors a chance to experience the feeling of being in Japan. The 1200-meter walking path takes you past indigenous plants, small hills, bodies of water, rocks, cherry trees, and a rock beach. Wander around the exquisite gardens while enjoying the views and listening to the softly flowing water. The serenity of this beautiful oasis will leave you with a peaceful feeling as you stroll around. You can buy fish food for the koi fish populating the ponds. The fish seem to know it and swim near the shores when they see visitors.
Open from March to the beginning of November, the Japanese Garden gives you multiple options of getting to know Japanese culture. Partake in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, attend Ikebana or calligraphy classes, indulge yourself with a sake tasting session, get to know more about haiku poetry, or attend a workshop on Buddhism and meditation.
Bodies of water play an important role in Japanese culture and it is no different in this garden where they tell the story of life. The waterfall near the entrance denotes carefree childhood, which flows into a stream that refers to puberty. The water flows on to a basin denoting adulthood. It flows under a bridge to a big tranquil pond, which symbolizes age and wisdom. Philosophy is central to the design of this garden along with respect for nature.
If you are in Hasselt in the spring time, head to the gardens to see the stunning cherry blossom trees in bloom. Every summer, the garden also hosts the Belgian Koi Show. When planning your visit to Hasselt, check out the event calendar of the Japanese Garden, too. You might find yourself timing your trip with one of the many festivals that are hosted here, including one that involves Manga cosplay.