Portland Japanese Garden

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Portland Japanese 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 9.1 acres (3.7 ha)
Opened 1967
Visitors 350,000[1]
Status Open to the public
Collections Strolling Pond Garden
Natural Garden
Sand and Stone Garden
Flat Garden
Tea Garden
Entry Garden
Bonsai Terrace
Website japanesegarden.org
Flat Garden
Sand and Stone Garden
Strolling Pond Garden
Wintertime vista

The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 9.1 acres, located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon, United States. It is operated as a private non-profit organization, which leased the site from the city in the early 1960s. Stephen D. Bloom has been the chief executive officer of the Portland Japanese Garden since 2005.[citation needed]


The 9.1 acre Portland Japanese Garden is composed of eight garden spaces and a Cultural Village.[2]

  • 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,[3] 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.[3]
  • 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).[3]
  • 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.[3]

In 2017, the Cultural Crossing expansion added three new Garden spaces.

  • The Entry Garden is home to a series of cascading ponds welcome visitors. The garden continues along a zigzagged walk up a terraced stone pathway through towering firs and cedars growing naturally along the hillside
  • The Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace provides a space for the Garden to showcase seasonal bonsai specimens. The Garden partners with local bonsai practitioners in Portland and from around the region, giving visitors a chance to see a variety of bonsai examples and techniques.
  • The Tsubo-Niwa is a modern Japanese garden style. This tiny "vignette" garden incorporates the essential elements of a Japanese garden – stone, water, and plants – while placing nature as a central focus of the surrounding Cultural Village.

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.[4] The west veranda faces the Flat Garden, and the east veranda overlooks downtown Portland and Mount Hood, which resembles Mount Fuji.[5] 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.[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. 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.[2] 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.

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.[3] In a study conducted in 2013 by the Journal of Japanese Gardening, it was deemed the finest public Japanese garden in North America out of more than 300 such gardens surveyed by Japanese garden experts.[6] 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."[2] 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.

In April of 2017, the Garden unveiled its Cultural Crossing expansion project. This $33.5 million expansion added 3.4 acres to the Garden. The addition included three new garden spaces and a Cultural Village, designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma. The Village is home to the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center, the Garden House, and the Umami Cafe by Ajinomoto. The new space will be used for additional educational and artistic programming and to make room for the 350,000 guests the Garden sees each year.


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.

Because the Portland Japanese Garden is a non-profit organization which receives no funding from the city of Portland, there is an admission fee:

  • Adult $14.95
  • Senior (65+) $12.95
  • Student $11.95
  • Youth (6-17) $10.45
  • Child (5 and under) Free 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. ^ a b c Johnson, Patrick. "Rest and repose in the Portland Japanese Garden". Oregon.com. Oregon Interactive Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Portland Japanese Garden". The Oregon Encyclopedia. 
  4. ^ "Ishimoto Yasuhiro's Katsura at Portland Japanese Garden". PortlandArt.net. February 11, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Frommer's Review of Portland Japanese Garden". NY Times. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  6. ^ "North America's Best Japanese Gardens" (PDF). Sukiya Living Magazine (JOJG). Retrieved January 17, 2016.