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The Japanese Garden, Rustic Oasis in Park Clingendael

Japanese Garden Clingendael (日本庭園) is located on the Clingendael Estate, between The Hague and Wassenaar. The garden dates back to about 1910. It is one of the largest (6,800m2), oldest and best preserved Japanese gardens in the Netherlands. In 8 weeks, the garden attracts about 10,000 visitors annually. The garden is also unique and famous internationally.

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At the pavilion, the streams of water that run through the garden come together to form a kind of pond. The Japanese character of the Japanese Garden is especially evident in the Japanese Maples, Buddha statues, the musta carpet, bamboo, garden ornaments and water features. Above all, it is a place that exudes a particularly serene atmosphere. The Japanese garden is rich in nature, culture and history. Suitable for both young and old. At the same time as the Japanese Garden, you can also visit the surrounding Park Clingendael. Please note the limited opening hours of the Japanese Garden!

Video Japanese Garden

Spring Opening Japanese Garden

In spring, the Japanese Garden is at its most beautiful. Large Azalea bushes are in full bloom in the Japanese Garden and Park Clingendael. The flowers show variegated colors (shades of white, pink, red, orange and yellow) among fresh green leaves. Some Azaleas, such as the candy cane pink Rhododendron ‘Hinode-giri’, are more than 100 years old. Old Japanese Maples (Acer) and ferns complete the spring feeling.
Just outside the Japanese garden, long hedges of Azaleas with exuberant blossoms give an overwhelming view. Some shrubs give off a heavenly scent.

Autumn Opening Japanese Garden

In the fall, Japanese Maples(Acer palmatum) reflect their fall color in the water. This gives the garden a warm glow. Tall red-leaved maples(Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’) add depth to the garden with their open branch structure. Together with the green carpet of moss on the ground, flowering autumn anemones, bamboo and separate conifers, you will experience a serene atmosphere and peace even then.

Symbolism in the Japanese Garden

A Japanese Garden is full of references to Japanese philosophy of life and Buddhism. The original religion, ideology and philosophy of life of Japan is the Shinto. This religion of nature, which assumes that everything has a “soul,” is deeply rooted in Japanese society. Also in Japanese garden art.

The design of the garden, the garden ornaments and also the use of color all have a symbolic meaning. Numerous, typically Japanese garden ornaments can be discovered in the Japanese garden. For example, Buddha statues, stone lanterns, water barrels and stepping stones.

Gateway ('torii gate')

A typical Japanese entrance gate consists of 2 posts topped with 2 crossbars. In Clingendael, a thatched roof was also placed over it.

Typically Dutch is the row of trees beyond the entrance gate. Both the tree species (oaks) and the shape (dead straight) are non-Japanese. The trees are essential though: they ensure that the moss layer gets enough shade.

Meandering paths

The winding paths and streams of water refer to each person’s life path. After each turn, a visitor gets a different view of the garden, just as someone’s view of his own life can change at any moment.


In the pond is an island. If you look closely, you will recognize in it the shape of a turtle. Rocks at the vertices represent the legs. The turtle’s distinctive head, with a pointed nose, is unmistakably identified by the shape of a large rock protruding into the water between the two front legs. (To do this, walk a bit to the teahouse, so you can get a good view of the head from the side.) The long tail, on the side of the tea house, consists of a row of stepping stones in the water.

Sacred Animals

In the Far East, many animals symbolize a long (and happy) life. For example, the deer, crane or turtle. If you look closely, you will see them everywhere.

Lanterns ('ishidôrô')

Some of the lanterns in Japanese Garden Clingendael still date from the period of construction. Natural stone lanterns are among the most familiar ornaments in a Japanese garden. They come in different types. At the base of some lanterns is an image of Buddha or deer. The fan shaped lantern has an image of a fish at the base. Possibly a carp: this symbolizes courage and perseverance. Or a tai-vis: it symbolizes prosperity, and drives away sickness and evil spirits.

Water vessel ('tsukubai')

A water vessel is found at Japanese Buddhist temples and at tea houses. The water is replenished through a bamboo pipe (“kakei”). The stone water pool in the Japanese Garden, next to the tea house, was used by guests participating in a tea ceremony. With a bamboo spoon they scooped the water, to clean mouth, hands and feet. One water vessel in the Japanese Garden is shaped like a lotus flower; the other has images of Buddha. The lotus flower represents purity, mystery, truth and (re)birth, both of body and mind. Water vessel, lantern and stones often appear as a trinity.

Stepping stones ('tobi-ishi')

Stepping stones are flat, slightly irregular stones in the walking path. They are slightly above the ground, or just above the surface of the water. When you walk on it you are forced to take each step thoughtfully. These physical steps symbolize the conscious choices you make throughout your life.

Monk Jizo

In a little temple there is a statue of the Buddhist monk “Jizô,” the most popular folk god in Japan. He is the protector of the souls of (deceased) children, pregnant women and travelers. The small towers of wishing stones around the statue are laid down by parents of deceased children. Each stone symbolizes the prayer of a father, mother, brother and sister left behind.

Color Red

Certain colors also have symbolic value. The bright red color of both wooden bridges symbolizes joy and drives away evil spirits. Buds of lotus flowers are placed on the corners of the bridges.

The Wisteria(W. sinensis) that protrudes over the water dates back to the late 19th century. Wooden sticks support the branches above the water.

Carpet of moss

A magnificent, but also fragile layer of moss covers the entire Japanese Garden. It is precisely this delicate, emerald-green mustard carpet that makes the Japanese Garden only available for viewing a few weeks a year. Due to the rather acidic and shady soil, moss thrives there. The ground cover counts as many as 40 to 50 species of moss. For example, Gaaf Buidelmos(Calypogeia muelleriana) and Fine Ladder Moss(Eurhynchium praelongum). The moss is carefully maintained. Every morning the moss is watered for an hour. Unwanted plants in the moss are invariably removed by hand. If a tree needs to be removed, the moss is temporarily removed and put back when finished.

Other perennials you will encounter include: Convallaria majalis, Hosta ‘Undulata Erromena’, Hosta lancifolia, Polygonatum multiflorum, Primula japonica and ferns.

Pavilion by the water

The thatched-roof pavilion and the vermillion-red bridge at the back of the garden are already visible upon entering. At the pavilion, the streams of water that run through the garden come together to form a kind of pond. From the pavilion cum teahouse you overlook the entire garden. It is an excellent place to sit for a while and enjoy all the elements in the garden.


Photo: Marguerite Mary Baroness Van Brienen, aka Freule Daisy (1871-1939)

Japan was an isolated island kingdom for centuries. It was not until 1860 that Japan, a huge country, developed into a central unitary state and opened its borders. In the early 20th century, Marguerite Mary Baroness Van Brienen aka Lady Daisy (1871 – 1939) was one of the few Europeans to make one or several trips to Japan.

Lady Daisy became so inspired by Japanese garden art that she created a Japanese garden in the Star Forest in the late 19th century. In designing it, she was assisted by garden architect T.J. Dinn and Japanese diplomats living in The Hague. She had the lanterns, a water barrel, figurines, bridges and possibly the pavilion brought over from Japan. These authentic elements can still be seen in the Japanese Garden, as well as the whimsically shaped pond, the meandering stream and the winding paths with stepping stones. The Japanese Garden is the only Japanese garden from the early 20th century in the Netherlands and therefore of great historical value.

Lady Daisy also maintained many foreign contacts and regularly rented out country house Clingendael to diplomats. As a result, Clingendael gained international fame and notoriety. Her contacts were the prelude to the establishment of Institute Clingendael, in 1983.

Growing interest in Japanese gardens

Since 2000, interest in Japanese gardens in the Netherlands has been experiencing strong growth. During their vacations, the Dutch are more often inspired by Asia and in addition the supply of plants with an Oriental atmosphere has increased enormously. This allows us to create a Japanese ambient garden at home that brings tranquility to our busy lives.


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'Place of serene rest and reflection'
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'Very inspiring'
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'Showpiece of Clingendael'
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'Wonderfully fragrant Rhododendrons'
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'Beautiful natural heritage'
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'Wonderfully composed nature'
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'Fine for young and old'

Opening hours Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden is only open for 2 short periods: in spring (during the flowering of the Azaleas) and in fall (during the autumn discoloration of the Japanese Maples). It is best to go early in the morning to get ahead of the crowds. Especially in spring, the Japanese Garden is a bright jewel in the Hague region. Many people from The Hague who discovered the Japanese Garden once, come back every year.

Spring Opening

Open 6 weeks in May and first two weeks of June*. Also open on Queen’s Day and Ascension Day. Daily from 09:00 – 20:00.

Autumn Opening

Open 2 weeks in October*.
Daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

* Read up to date information on the Municipality of The Hague website.
If you have any questions, please contact the Municipal Contact Center: tel. 070-3533000 (on weekdays from 08:00 to 20:00).
Combine the visit to the Japanese Garden with a visit to the adjacent Park Clingendael (open every day year round).




  • Also accessible to the disabled (via the Wassenaarseweg). Wheelchair users have their own entrance, in the Star Forest.
  • Not allowed: electrically powered devices, baby carriages, dogs, music, jogging, cycling.
  • In case of bad weather and/or too many visitors, the garden may be temporarily closed.

Address and accessibility

The Clingendael Japanese Garden is part of the Clingendael Estate.
The main entrance is located on the Wassenaarseweg.

You can reach the estate by car via the Van Alkemadelaan and the Wassenaarseweg. You may not park on the property under any circumstances.

By bus you can reach the estate with bus lines 18 and 23.

Tips for your Visit

  • Bring your camera to take pictures!
  • If you want to get ahead of the crowds, it is best to visit the Japanese Garden early in the morning.
  • Upon entering the garden, the thatched-roof pavilion and vermilion-red bridge can already be seen at the back. From the pavilion cum teahouse you overlook the entire garden. It is also an excellent place to sit for a while and enjoy all the elements in the garden.
  • After the Japanese Garden, also visit Park Clingendael which is located right next to the Japanese Garden. The city park is open every day throughout the year. It also lends itself to a walk in the woods, a picnic or an afternoon of relaxing on the lawn. If you walk into the park from the Japanese Garden and turn right, you will come to a tea shop after 100 meters.
  • At the main entrance on Wassenaarseweg, there is often an ice cream stand with Italian ice cream.

Tips for a Day Trip

Visit nearby as well:
The Pear Lane (blossom at the end of April / beginning of May; pears on the trees until September)
The Keukenhof (until mid-May)
Westbroek Park / Rosarium (at its most beautiful in July; 20,000 rose bushes)
Madurodam (view Holland in 1-2 hours)
beach of Scheveningen (sun sets in sea)
City of Delft (tourist center)

Wedding Report

The serene tranquility makes Clingendael Estate extremely suitable as a location for wedding photos. A wedding shoot in the Japanese Garden is also possible, but only during regular opening hours to the public. However, you must request prior written permission from the Municipality of The Hague*.
* City Administration Department, urban district Haagse Hout, PO Box 12651, 2500 DP The Hague

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