Portland Japanese Garden

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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden maple.jpg
Japanese Maple in the garden
Type Japanese garden
Location Portland, Oregon, United States
Coordinates 45°31′07″N 122°42′29″W / 45.51872°N 122.7080°W / 45.51872; -122.7080Coordinates: 45°31′07″N 122°42′29″W / 45.51872°N 122.7080°W / 45.51872; -122.7080
Area 5.5 acres (2.2 ha)
Opened 1967
Operated by Japanese Garden Society of Oregon
Visitors 300,000[1]
Status Open to the public
Collections Strolling Pond Garden
Natural Garden
Sand and Stone Garden
Flat Garden
Tea Garden
Budget $2,980,000 (2010)[needs update][2]
Website japanesegarden.com
Flat Garden
Sand and Stone Garden
Strolling Pond Garden
Wintertime vista

The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 5.5 acres (22,000 m²), located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon, United States. It is operated by the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon, a private non-profit corporation, which leased the site from the city in the early 1960s and whose members elect the trustees of the Society. Stephen D. Bloom has been the chief executive officer of the Japanese Garden Society since 2005.[citation needed]


The 5.5 acre Portland Japanese Garden is composed of five sub-gardens.[3] As a Japanese garden, the desired effect is to realize a sense of peace, harmony, and tranquility and to experience the feeling of being a part of nature.[citation needed] The garden has five major sub-gardens, each a different degree of formality:[3]

  • The Strolling Pond Garden is the largest and contains multiple areas. In one, rocks built into the path are arranged as the Big Dipper constellation. There is a 100-year-old five-tiered pagoda lantern,[4] a gift from Portland's sister city of Sapporo with ornamental rocks forming the shape of Hokkaidō island and a red stone for Sapporo. Several ornate or whimsical bridges cross the creeks between ponds. There is also a handmade moon bridge.[4]
  • The Natural Garden has multiple ponds, waterfalls, and streams. Trees, shrubs, ferns, and mosses grow in their natural state.
  • The Sand and Stone Garden contains weathered stones rising from rippled sand suggestive of the ocean. The tranquil rake patterns are often present in karesansui (Japanese rock gardens).[4]
  • The Flat Garden is typical of urban garden design, but here it contrasts with the park's folds and contours. Raked white sand represents water and vividly contrasts with lawn, moss, evergreens, and azaleas.
  • The Tea Garden has two areas, each devoted to enhancing the tea ceremony: an outer waiting area and an inner garden surrounding the authentic tea house, constructed in Japan by Kajima Construction Company and assembled onsite in 1968.[4]

Three of the essential elements used to create the garden are stone, the "bones" of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons.[3] Japanese garden designers feel that good stone composition is one of the most important elements in creating a well-designed garden. Secondary elements include pagodas, stone lanterns, water basins, arbors, and bridges. Japanese gardens are asymmetrical in design and reflect nature in idealized form. Traditionally, human scale is maintained throughout so that one always feels part of the environment and not overpowered by it.

The Garden Pavilion was built in 1980 in Japanese style by local builders: it has a tiled roof, wooden verandas, and Shōji sliding doors. It is the center of several Japanese cultural festivals, art exhibitions, and other events.[5] The west veranda faces the Flat Garden, and the east veranda overlooks downtown Portland and Mount Hood, which resembles Mount Fuji.[6] Dozens of stone lanterns are present throughout the garden. The lower entrance features a 100-year-old temple gate, a 1976 gift of the Japanese Ancestral Society of Oregon.[4]

History and awards[edit]

The garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tono. The garden was dedicated and design began in 1963; the garden opened to the public in 1967.[4] In a study conducted in 2004 by the Journal of Japanese Gardening, it was ranked second out of 300 public Japanese gardens outside Japan for highest quality.[7] The Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Nobuo Matsunaga, said "I believe this garden to be the most authentic Japanese garden, including those in Japan."[3] This is notable because a traditional Japanese garden normally takes hundreds of years to evolve and mature, but the Portland Japanese Garden evolved much more quickly—a fusion of hurried western style and stately eastern expression.

The garden adopted an expansion plan on January 7, 2011.[8] As of August 2014, the plan called for the garden to grow by more than three acres, adding a chabana garden, ticketing pavilion, garden house, tea café, cultural center, and a gift store.[1] Plans for the $33.5 million expansion were finalized in July 2015. Kengo Kuma and Associates will lead the design of 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) of new areas. Groundbreaking took place in August 2015, with construction projected to be complete by early 2017; the garden was closed for several months between late 2015 and early 2016, reopening in March of that year.[9]


The Japanese Garden is close to Washington Park's main entrance, at the top of Park Place, just above and a short walk from the International Rose Test Garden. Parking can be scarce on sunny days, but TriMet line 63 stops nearby, as does the Washington Park Shuttle.

The Portland Japanese Garden is across from the tennis courts. Also, the Washington Park and Zoo Railway has a station by the rose garden. During the summer, it connects to the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, MAX, Portland Children's Museum, Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Hoyt Arboretum.

After a short ascent up the hillside one reaches the admissions gate. The Japanese Garden provides a shuttle from the parking lot for easier access to the gate. Handicap parking is also available at the top.

Even though located in a public park, there is an admission fee (ranging up to $9.50 per adult as of 2016).[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Koffman, Rebecca (August 29, 2014). "Portland Japanese Garden's expansion plan moving ahead, with some neighbors satisfied and others not". oregonlive.com. The Oregonian. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  2. ^ "2010 Annual Report". May 10, 2011. p. 7. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d Johnson, Patrick. "Rest and repose in the Portland Japanese Garden". Oregon.com. Oregon Interactive Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Portland Japanese Garden". The Oregon Encyclopedia. 
  5. ^ "Ishimoto Yasuhiro's Katsura at Portland Japanese Garden". PortlandArt.net. February 11, 2011. 
  6. ^ "Frommer's Review of Portland Japanese Garden". NY Times. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  7. ^ "North America's Top 25 Japanese Gardens". Sukiya Living Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  8. ^ "Garden Expansion". Portland Japanese Garden. Archived from the original on 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  9. ^ Patail, Marty (July 16, 2015). "Portland Japanese Garden Unveils Major $33.5 Million Expansion". Portland Monthly. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Hours & Admission". japanesegarden.com.