Yesterday we were at the Japan Market in Leiden. This event is co-organised by volunteers and the SieboldHuis, a Japan museum. The Japan Market is created as a commemoration of a visit by the Japanese emperor. He visited Leiden in 2000, so the event is quite new for Leiden standards. Every year people gather here to enjoy all things Japan. You can eat Japanese food, watch Japanese performances and art, but don’t forget about meeting all of the other Japan fans here! Many people, both travelers as well as the Japanese community in the Netherlands, visit Leiden this day. But did you know Japan and Leiden have been connected for a very long time?

Guest of Japan market. Her outfit is inspired by Japanese anime.
Girl in anime costume during Japan Market in Leiden

The Netherlands and Japan: A Long Friendship

Holland has long historical ties with Japan. Did you know the Dutch were the only foreigners allowed to have trade relations with Japan? This was the case in the time period of 1640 till 1853. But not only Holland as a country had a special bond with Japan. The city of Leiden has plenty of history tied with Japanese culture.

Leiden and Japan: Siebold, Mural Poems and More

In Japanmuseum SieboldHuis these ties are well preserved and presented. . For instance, there is a Japanese courtyard in the university’s botanical gardens. Japan and Leiden have exchanged large amounts of plants and knowledge here. In fact, one of the plants botanist Philipp Franz Von Siebold brought to Leiden has caused quite a problem! Siebold brought the plants to Leiden and placed it in the botanical gardens. However, the plant quite enjoyed the Dutch climate and spread its seeds around the country rather quickly. Not only is this plant a problem in Holland, but also in countries like the United Kingdom. Knotweed destroys walls, other plants and exhausts the ground’s nutrition. Thankfully, Siebold has also brought a lot of great things from Japan to Leiden!

But you can also see some beautiful murals by Japanese poets. Did you know Leiden has 113 mural poems spread throughout the city? And did you know these poems are written in nearly 40 different languages? Leiden has not only got a Japanese mural, but they have three! During the Japan in Leiden walking tour an experienced guide will bring you to these poems and tell you all about the history of them.

Japanese Mural Poem in Leiden
Japanese Mural Poem in Leiden

If you like to know more about how Japan and Leiden are connected, book our Japan in Leiden walking tour. The guide is very experienced and speaks English and Dutch. You can become more knowledgeable about the Japan-Leiden relations than locals! If that is not your thing, perhaps we will see you at the Japan Market next year?