If you are a fan of all things Japanese, you might be interested in various events being held at the Japanese Garden in Hasselt to celebrate its 20th birthday. My friends Saskia and Bart from the Japan Centre in Zoutleeuw are organizing a lot of the activities. This is a previous blog post on the Japan Centre.
One particular event that grabbed my attention is the Obon Matsuri Nocturne on August 18. This is an annual Buddhist event to commemorate one’s ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world to visit their relatives. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, obon dances are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas to guide the spirits back into their world.
In Hasselt the evening starts with exclusive Japanese dinner in the Japanese Garden (18:00 – 20:00), and afterwards the garden opens from 20:00 – 23:00 for the traditional floating of lanterns on the pond. The dinner is by Restaurant Oishii of Hasselt (this is the menu – Obon menu – which costs 45 EUR pp or 19 EUR for children. Registration and advance payment is necessary. Entrance to the garden afterwards is 5 EUR for adults’ free for under-12s.
For other events taking place in these lovely gardens, read this: Japanese Garden program.