Asian Experiences City Trips Den Helder

Japan Day at Hortus Overzee

It was a sunny day in Den Helder, when I went to Japan Day at the botanical garden Hortus Overzee. The atmosphere was perfect for celebrating Japanese culture and traditions, surrounded by the colorful plants of this beautiful Japanese garden. Read on in my blog about my experiences during Japan Day.

Japan Day at Hortus Overzee.

For an impression of the day, you can watch my video here: Japan Day at Hortus Overzee.


Welcome with the Ambassador of Japan

Ambassador Hiroshi Minami and his wife arrived with a delegation from the Japanese embassy. They were warmly greeted by Mayor Jan de Boer of Den Helder. The festivities began ceremoniously, with great hospitality. This fitted well, with the special bond between the Netherlands and Japan.

Japanese Tea and Delicacies

Upon entering, visitors were welcomed by stalls filled with Japanese delicacies and trinkets. I immediately had Japanese matcha tea and a delicious Ichigo Daifuku, a strawberry wrapped in sweet bean paste and mochi. Really delicious and freshly made! There was also a lot of art to see, such as paintings, Ikebana, bonsai, ceramics, and Japanese books.

Japanese Matcha tea and Mochi. Japan Day in Hortus Overzee.

Taiko Drummers and Calligraphy

The event started with an impressive taiko drum demonstration by the group KAON, together with calligraphist Lanka. Accompanied by the drums, Lanka painted beautiful characters, such as the symbol for ‘feel’. This demonstration emphasized the purpose of the day: to feel and experience Japanese culture in all its aspects.

Shakuhachi – Japanese Bamboo Flute

In the beautiful Japanese garden, you heard the soothing sounds of the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. This music brought extra peace and depth. It matched perfectly, with the serene Japanese garden with flowing water, koi carp and bamboo.

Japanese Food at Japan Day in Hortus Overzee

Of course, delicious Japanese food couldn’t be missing during Japan Day. We ate delicious vegetarian yakisoba (fried noodles).

Playful Traditions

For the younger visitors (and the young at heart), there was a Kendama challenge – a traditional skill game that helps improve hand-eye coordination. Under the guidance of a Japanese master, I tried my skills with this ancient toy. It looked easier than it was, but it was a lot of fun to try.

Cosplay Samurai and Geishas

No Japan Day is complete without the colorful presence of cosplayers. Several warriors from samurai-events in full samurai armor and beautifully dressed geishas adorned the event. It was an impressive sight and brought a piece of historic Japanese culture to life. There were even stands where you could purchase traditional geisha kimonos.

Kyudo Archery Demonstration

The Kyudo archery demonstration was also special to see. The Japanese word ‘Kyudo’ means ‘the way of the bow’. It is a traditional form of Japanese archery. The demonstration, with the enormous Japanese Yumi bow, was impressive.
Of course, I had to try this out myself. Under the guidance of a sensei, I had the chance to practice some steps of the Kyudo technique myself, with a special training bow. It turned out to be a challenging but enriching experience.

My Experience of Japan Day in Hortus Overzee

Japan Day in Hortus Overzee was a great opportunity to discover Japanese culture. Like many others, I enjoyed the serene beauty of the Japanese garden, the exciting demonstrations, and the delicious Japanese delicacies. It was a day full of new experiences and appreciation for Japanese traditions. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in Japanese culture and wants to spend a nice day in a beautiful botanical environment.

Hortus Overzee
Address: Soembastraat 83
1782 SM Den Helder, Nederland


Travel Guide: Japan Day Hortus Overzee.

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