A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Feeling genki in Den Haag: a trip to the Japanese Garden

Learning about different countries and cultures is one of the many reasons why people become and love to be international students. The best thing about that is, I think, that you have no idea before where the journey will actually take you. One of the biggest surprises Leiden had in store for me was the fact that I grew to really like Japanese culture. Don’t get me wrong, I never disliked it, I just didn’t really have an opinion or knowledge about it until I came to Leiden and met so many wonderful Japanese and Japanophiles. So I became a collector of many little Japanese puzzle pieces (mainly food and films and flower-drawing), and hopefully one day I will be able to visit the islands to take my own picture of it.

That’s probably not happening for a long time though, because Japan is not directly around the corner… or is it? Well, in the Netherlands everything is magically just around the corner somehow, and so I took a little trip to a little Japan just yesterday!

I found out about the Japanese Garden by stumbling over a post on the Masters in Leiden facebook page, and I’m happy I did it on time! The Japanese Garden is part of the Clingendael Park between Den Haag and Wassenaar, and only open for 8 weeks in the year, 6 weeks in cherry-blossoming-spring and 2 weeks in autumn when the trees are famously bright and colourful. The restricted opening times are because of the fragile state of the plants and ornaments, and especially the mosses (of which you can find more than 40 different kind there! Wow, I really did not know about the large variety of moss!). This year it’s only open until the 27th of October, so be quick if you don‘t want to wait until May! Entrance is for free!

The garden was founded 1910 by “Lady Daisy”, a dutch baroness who traveled to Japan and brought the beauty (the concept as well as some plants and sculptures) back to her own park, the Clingendael estate. So, today, to catch a little glimpse of the beauty of Japanese Gardens, we can take a train (to Den Haag Centraal) and a bus (Number 18 directly to Clingendael) instead of a ship or a plane…

Clingendael Park

Stepping out of the bus you can‘t miss the entry of the park area, and to find the Japanese Garden you only have to do what little Mei does to find Totoro: follow the acorns…

Clingendael Park

The garden itself is quite small, but you can have a lovely wander and wonder around and enjoy the calmness and beauty…

Japanese Garden1

Japanese Garden2

Japanese Garden3

Japanese Garden4

Japanese Garden5

Japanese Garden6

Japanese Garden7

Afterwards, it is worth to explore more of the Clingendael park area, which turned out be huge, and it is definitely the place to go to if you want to take a good walk in the woods! If I had only known about this earlier!

Autumn DH garden

It was nice to stroll around and watch all the humans, dogs, ducks and herons… and so many mushrooms! It seems like there are some very famous mushrooms here, because many mushrooms tourists were on a photo hunt. I even had to queue to take a picture… but well, the red one here is a splendid specimen, isn’t it?!

Mushroom collage

Fresh air makes hungry, and so we decided spontaneously to make it a complete luxury day and go for Japanese food afterwards. It is weird to think that two years ago, my knowledge of the Japanese cuisine basically started and ended with Sushi. Little did I know… Now many dishes are part of my regular cooking! Yesterday we went to the Set restaurant, which I can highly recommend; it’s not the cheapest but the prices are reasonable and the food is incredible.

Genki Set Collage

I had Okonomiyaki and green tea and we watched a bit of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind on a tiny screen while eating. Life was good and I felt all genki on my way back to Leiden. So energetic in fact, that even the proper dutch rain shower which reminded me that I was back in the Netherlands could not diminish my good mood…

2 comments on “Feeling genki in Den Haag: a trip to the Japanese Garden

  1. jyliew
    April 17, 2015

    Thanks for the great post. Planning to visit Japanese Garden, but I couldn’t find any info whether it is possible to park my bike near the place and go in the garden and have a look. Do you have any idea?

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This entry was posted on October 21, 2013 by in Anna Frederike, Culture, Leisure, Nature and tagged , , , .

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