The Japanese Garden is a small oasis of calm in the city of Hasselt. It combines the delicately controlled nature of a real Japanese sculpted garden, with soft flowing stream of water and a Japanese pavilion. I had wanted to visit this park for some time. I am very interested in meditation and all rituals like the Japanese tea ceremony.

Children are hungry for information

My kids adore beauty and they want to know why. Why is this a Japanese garden ? What do the Japanese do ? Where is Japan ? I was subjected to a tirade of questions whilst running around the park discovering one new beauty around every corner.

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I am all for spontaneity. And I pride myself on being well-read. But my kids got the better of me. Next time, I swore, I’d be better prepared and I’d do my homework. Lucky in our day and age, I can just pull out my iPhone and Google the questions I can’t answer.

Children love water

No sh*t Sherlock, hadn’t seen that one coming. Add a stream of water where children can actually get hands-on involved and you’ve got yourself some happy campers.

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The lake was home to a huge school of Japanese Koi. My kids so desperately wanted to pet the little darlings. Of course they just ended up washing their feet.

Nature is a beautiful place to be with children

The Japanese cherry trees were in bloom. And such gorgeous flowers ! My daughter wanted to eat one, they smelled so delicious.

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Such love for beauty is only complete when spent with mum. Just look at those darling little faces. So happy to be out discovering the treasures of this park. Children just add that little extra spark of luminosity. This picture is one of my treasures. I call it the Cherry’s Jubilee.

Anything can be an adventure

We took a walk round the park, following the small paths and crossed the stepping stones by the waterfall. Like I said, kids love water. It adds to the magic and the excitement of the moment.

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This waterfall sure heats things up ! The wild uncontrollable force of nature, the fierce rocks… Yet everything so calculated and orchestrated into this magnificent setting. Loved it !

And this proud mother learned…

That day, I realized as I was walking around the Japanese Garden in Hasselt, bathed in the loveliest light. What made that day so memorable was the presence of my kids. I had wanted to teach them what a beautiful place this world is. But actually it was my kids who taught me to see the beauty, as they looked and discovered and played in all childish innocence. I was humbled by how much they actually taught me. Would I have spent so much time by the water watching the koi ? Would I have asked myself so many questions about the Japanese culture ? Would I have noticed the sweet fragrance of the cherry blossom ? I felt so lucky. I found so much inspiring beauty. I can’t wait to get outside again !

— Japanese Garden, Hasselt, Belgium (May 2013)

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