In The Hague, the political heart of the Netherlands, in the nice park Clingendael, enclosed in a bamboo fence, there is a small Japanese garden of surprising beauty.
The garden was created in the early XX sec. by the owner of the park, Marguérite Mary Baroness of Brienen, also called Lady Daisy. Marguérite had a huge passion for Japan, where she went several times bringing to the Netherlands many lanterns, fountains, sculptures, even a pavilion, small bridges and several plants.
The original design, with the quiet pond, the meandering stream and winding paths, has remained intact all these years.
No wonder, there is an expression in Japanese (Shinrin-yoku) which means “forest bathing“: spending time in nature, like a walk in the woods.
There are more and more researches proving the manyfold benefits of “forest bathing”: “forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol (stress hormone), lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments”. These results are very encouraging: the so-called “forest medicine” may be used as preventive medicine in many mood, anziety, stress and several cardiovascular problems.
In the matter of health and nature exposure, the first most important research was the one by Roger Ulrich who, in 1984, observed that patients with a tree view would recover more quickly than other patients of the same hospital with a view of a brick wall; moreover, the former had fewer negative comments from nurses, took fewer moderate and strong analgesic doses, and had slightly less minor postsurgical complications.
This very interesting researches belong to ecotherapy, which is one of the main topics I talk about in my blog and my workshops. Therefore you will read again soon about the influence of leisure activities in nature.
Opening periods in 2015:
Spring: April 25 to June 7, 9: 00-20: 00
Fall: October 10 to 25 10: 00-16: 00
The municipality of Den Haag has always taken great care of the Japanese garden, for its uniqueness and the huge historical value. The garden, in fact, since 2001 is part of a list of national historical monuments.
Because of its fragility, the Japanese Garden is open for few days a year, in spring and autumn.
You can reach Clingendael two entrances: Van Alkemadelaan and Wassenaarseweg. From Den Haag Centraal you can take bus 18 and get off at the last stop.
The entrance to the whole park is free and there is the possibility to park nearby.
Here is a brochure with info in English.
This beautiful image sequence represents the explosion of colors of May. Plus a final treat: the appearance of a Japanese demon while I was developing the picture, just like in the best horror movies!
(Disclaimer: it is not me in the picture, but the owner of the abominable face (not photoshopped) insisted to post it!).