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Japan is one of my top bucket list travel destinations. I’m amazed by the culture, the food and all those things that make this country different and very special. I also happen to love nature, so when I heard that a little corner of Japan existed here in Belgium I  simply had to discover it!

In Japan garden making is considered as high art, just like ink painting and calligraphy. The Japanese Garden of Hasselt in Belgium (“Japanse Tuin” in Dutch) was created with the support of the city of Itami in Japan over twenty years ago and it’s actually the largest Japanese garden in Europe. Having read this before my visit, I arrived with high expectations only to realize that the garden is fairly small (in around 30-45 minutes you can make a full tour around it). This doesn’t mean nevertheless that it’s not absolutely beautiful and worth visiting.

Upon entering you follow a path with Japanese pine trees, flowers, running water and a pavilion where you can rest and enjoy the calmness of the Garden. The path leads to a lovely cascade, a typical feature of Japanese gardens, which brings to mind Japan’s famous mountain waterfalls. The best part? You can walk very close to the falling water following a wooden bridge, another common element of Japanese gardens that symbolizes the path to paradise and immortality. A bit further down you can find a couple of Japanese ceremonial houses overlooking the pond, which are open to the public on specific dates to host the traditional tea ceremony. The pond is filled with gigantic colorful koi fish that are not scared to approach you at the first sign of food. The visit is complete with a walk around the 250 cherry trees. I can only imagine how beautiful the garden will be during the cherry blossom season!

Address: Koning Boudewijnlaan, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium
Telephone: +32 11 239540
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Sandy (@smarksthespots)