See Hanami at the Japanese Garden in Bad Langensalza, Germany
If seeing the famous Japanese cherry blossom is on your bucketlist (here’s a guide I wrote) but you’re in Germany, fear not. There’s an authentic Japanese Garden in Bad Langensalza, Germany. It was a huge project to capture and recreate the traditional Japanese style and a major magnet especially for its three Japanese festivals. Read on to find out more.
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Where is the Japanese Garden & how do I get there?
By car, it takes 85 minutes from Jena, 40 minutes from Erfurt and one hour from Weimar.
In case you’re doing a day trip from Leipzig, you can reach the Japanese Garden within 2 hours via the autobahn A38 and A71.
If you want to travel by public transport, catch a regional train to Bad Langensalza.
Should you stay in nearby Thuringian cities like Erfurt (see the interactive map), opt for the “Hopper-Ticket Thüringen“.
It’s available at train station machines only (not online). You can find it after clicking the button “VMT ticket“ on the start screen. A one way ride costs 5.60 EUR and a return ticket is 9.10 EUR. The ticket can be bought in advance. When you want to use it, validate it at a green ticket machine on the train platform.
Somewhat similar to the German word Bad is bud. The first syllable of the next word sounds like lung, add en (like in endeavor) and say salsa.
Why is there a Japanese Garden?
Bad Langensalza is also known as the Town of Roses thanks to its wonderful gardens. Just before the turn of the century, ideas were brainstormed on how to create a new charming addition to entertain the many visitors flocking for a relaxing wellness experience. After all, nature plays a big part in that.
When local garden architect Dipl. Ing. Silke Hasskerl-Schilling suggested pairing her thesis on Japanese gardenscaping with real life creation, the project was given the green light and completed in 2002.
When should you visit?
There are not many Japanese gardens in Germany, but this one is special due to its scenic location in the charming town of Bad Langensalza and its Japanese festivals.
Each year, you can celebrate three major Japanese festivals here, which are:
April: HANAMI (cherry blossom festival)
June: KOMOMO NO HI (kids festival)
July: TANABATA (festival of the stars)
The most popular is hanami, which celebrates the pink cherry blossom pedals. It gets crazy crowded during the weekend festival, so make sure to arrive early. It’s fun for the entire family and little ones can take part in handcraft activities.
As part of the events, you can witness Japanese martial arts, drumming, origami making and sample sushi.
What is special about the Japanese Garden?
The garden was named Kōfuku no niwa, which means Garden of Happiness. Everything in it centers around the concept of balance and fluidity.
Look close and find typical Japanese elements like round ponds, trickling streams, bonsai, swaying cherry trees, azalea bushes and a zen garden. There’s a meaning behind every detail.
(The little Buddha statue is the only thing that is a bit out of place. But it was a special price that the city won in a city competition and it works quite well here.)
Within the garden are smaller gardens inviting contemplation, such as the bamboo grove. In the northern part, there’s the dry garden with raked grit and pebbles. The bigger islands in the middle represent the heron and turtle, which are said to bring luck.
Cross the zigzag path (八橋, yatsubashi) over the pond and you get to leave evil spirits behind. To really settle into the calm, take a seat at the tea pavilion. Here, you can enjoy freshly brewed Japanese tea.
There’s the option to join an official tea ceremony lead by Ueda Sôko tea masters Dietrich and Jana Roloff. It lasts 90 to 120 minutes and costs 22 EUR (with spa card: 20 EUR). Inquire at the tourist information regarding upcoming tea ceremony dates as they don’t happen regularly.
Address: Kurpromenade, 99947 Bad Langensalza
Garden opening times: 10AM to 6PM (Mar & Oct), 10AM to 7PM (April to Sep), closed Nov to Feb
Tea pavilion opening times: 1PM to 4PM (March), 1PM to 5PM (April to Oct)
There are quite a lot of things to see in Bad Langensalza. It’s a popular spa town (Bad means “spa“ in German) and as such you can enjoy healing pools and wellness activities.
Next to the Japanese Garden, Bad Langensalza has many other parks to offer. Outside the Japanese Garden and along the historic city walls you can follow the spa garden and step into the Natur!Garten (nature garden), which shows you local flora.
Then there’s the Rose Garden with 450 roses, the magnolia garden with 33 magnolia types, the Apothecary Garden of the Thuringian Pharmacy Museum, the tree garden Arboretum with 130 tree varieties and the castle garden from the 17th century.
Furthermore, you can soak up the sun at TRACO-Park, where you can explore different ways of gardenscaping techniques and examples.
Need more inspiration? Check out these Germany travel tips
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