One of the small joys of living in a place year-round is that you get to experience your home city in each season. Although seasons in the Netherlands are far more mild than those of my home country, I still have a huge soft spot for fall and spring here in the Netherlands. One of the best places to ring in spring and fall is at the Japanese garden in Den Haag. I’ll be including advice for visiting the Japanese garden in both seasons, including getting to Clingendael.
History of the Japanese Garden in the Hague
The beautiful Japanese Garden in the Hague was created in 1910. This beautiful garden was endowed by Marguerite M. Baroness van Brienen, who was known as Lady Daisy. A big fan of Japan, she sailed multiple times to Japan shortly after Japan opened itself up to the world. Like many, Lady Daisy was taken with the beautiful gardens that she saw. She ended up collecting beautiful pieces to create her garden with, including numerous lanterns.
The garden historically was private property part of the Clingendael estate, a beautiful country property that belonged to one of the wealthy families in the Hague. (The family is responsible for Hotel Des Indes as well.) Today, this garden belongs to the municipality and it’s free to visit although the dates are limited as it holds many rare plants that are fairly difficult to maintain. To date, this is the largest Japanese garden in the Netherlands and it is a protected site.
Opening dates of the Japanese Garden in Den Haag for spring
Unfortunately, the dates that the Japanese garden is open during in spring are quite limited. The garden is open from April 28th until June 10th from 9am to 8pm. (Expect similar dates for 2019. I will update accordingly!) Tickets are not required for the Japanese garden and it is absolutely free to visit during this period!
Opening dates of the Japanese Garden in Den Haag for fall
For autumn, the Japanese garden is open in late October from October 13th to October 28th from 10am to 4pm. Given that this past summer/fall was quite warm, I suspect that the best time to visit will be towards the end of the opening period to see the best colors! Tickets are not required for the Japanese garden and it is absolutely free to visit during this period!
Tips for visiting the Japanese Garden
Given that visitors must cross one of the beautiful Japanese bridges, access is limited for those in wheelchairs unfortunately. Those in wheelchairs can still visit, but will be limited in how much they can see as the paths are fairly narrow.
One of my biggest tips for visiting the Japanese Garden in Den Haag is to go on a weekday in the morning or late evening. Although everyone would prefer to go with their families on a beautiful day on a weekend, it’s very hard to get good photos without the crowds. The garden is not that large, so try to time you visit towards closing times.
For the most beautiful colors, check Instagram daily to see if the colors are what you expected. I went this week to see the fall foliage and I was a bit disappointed with the colors, but I intend to head back in the coming week as it’s been quite an unusual fall thus far.
If you’re intend on doing a photoshoot, I recommend bringing minimal gear as the crowds make it very hard to position a tripod (except by the pavillion). You need to be quick as the crowds mean that people wait for you to take your photos. (Many opt for a selfie stick, making visiting the Japanese Garden on a weekend into an obstacle course for avoiding getting hit by selfie sticks!)
Nearby, there’s a lovely tea house where you can enjoy a bite to eat although picnics are unfortunately not allowed in the garden itself. Similarly, bikes are banned from the garden.
Getting to the Japanese Garden in Den Haag
The Clingendael Garden is a bit outside of the Hague and it’s easiest to reach by bike, especially on a lovely day. (You can rent a bike from a number of places around the Hague. Look up the Haagse Stadsfiets or contact tourist information to find out how to rent bikes in the Hague.)
The Japanese Garden is well marked by signs close to the entrance near the ANWB winkel. You’ll find bike parking hidden off to the side shortly after entering.
If you wish to drive, there’s very limited parking. The nearest parking lot is the Parkeerlocatie ParkBee – Bronovolaan. It might be easier to take the 18 bus from Den Haag Centraal towards the last stop (Clingendael) or bus 22 towards the western corner of the park.