Portland Japanese Garden Guide – The Portland Japanese
Garden is a popular Portland attraction located on the edge of Downtown
Portland in Washington Park. Proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre haven of tranquil beauty nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland, Oregon.
The Japanese Garden is one of my favorite locations in Portland, and I’m
sure I am not alone with that opinion. The garden is peaceful and
beautiful, and is full of gorgeous plants, trees, water features, and other
Japanese inspired scenery. I find the garden changes throughout the
seasons in Portland, but always offers something worth seeing.
Throughout the year, the Japanese Garden offers special events and different
exhibits, and the Japanese Garden gift shop is a great place to find unique
gifts. The Japanese maple trees offer excellent photo opportunities for
amateur and professional photographers. I personally have used the
Portland Japanese garden as a source of inspiration for several oil paintings
of the beautiful Japanese maple trees with graceful branches and delicate
lace-like leaves. The garden is an amazing source of inspiration to all
who visit, artist or not.
“The 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is composed of five distinct garden styles. When we enter 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. In a deep sense, the Japanese garden is a living reflection of the long history and traditional culture of Japan. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, there is always “something more” in these compositions of stone, water, and plants than meets the eye.”
Current Events at the Portland Japanese Garden
at the Garden – The Japanese Garden Society of Oregon was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1962 and is maintained through admissions, memberships, special gifts, and donations. The Society currently has over 4,500 members and relies on the dedication of the many volunteers who generously give their time to help with Garden events and activities.
Five Festival Celebrations – The cycle of life from birth to death is reflected in the quiet passage of a year in the Garden. Out of the cold, barren days of winter, the first buds appear on the plum and reassure us that spring will come again.
Blessed with a climate much like that of central Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden enjoys the same dramatic changes of the seasons, celebrating them with a series of five traditional festivals called Go-sekku that have been observed in Japan since at least the 6th century.
Marking the subtle changes in weather that accompany each passing cycle of the moon, the five festivals were celebrated by farmers who sought the help of the kami, or gods, on these occasions to move the cycle of life forward and bring their crops to harvest successfully.
Five Gardens at the Portland Japanese Garden
There are five distinct areas or garden styles that make up the overall
Garden – The Flat Garden (hira-niwa) is an example
of how gardens in Japan have continued to develop the dry landscape style of
the karesansui garden over time. In a garden such as this one, the designer
worked to balance the relationship between the flat planes (the ground) and
the volume of stones and clipped shrubbery and trees to create a sense of
depth of space.
Garden – Our Stroll Garden (chisen kaiyu shiki teien)
consists of Upper and Lower Ponds connected by an enticing stream. The Upper
Pond features a Moon Bridge, while the Lower Pond has a zig-zag (or yatsuhashi)
bridge through beds of iris against the backdrop of a stunning waterfall.
Garden – Japanese tea garden (cha-niwa or roji)
is a place for quiet reflection on the beauty of nature and the art of living
in harmony with one another and with all things. Amid a wooded setting, a
pathway with carefully placed stepping stones and lanterns leads through the
rustic garden to the teahouse. The gardens are designed to present a peaceful,
natural space that serves as an intervalboth in space and timea place to
detach oneself from the hectic everyday world before entering the teahouse and
the tranquil world of chanoyu (tea ceremony).
Garden – The Natural Garden was created to be an environment that
encourages visitors to rest, relax, and reflect on the very essence and
brevity of life. This garden in its current configuration is the most recent
addition to the Portland Japanese Garden, and it is also the most contemporary
style, referred to as zoki no niwa, a style which
includes plant materials that fall outside the list of plants traditionally
associated with Japanese gardens.
and Stone Garden – Gardens of raked sand (or gravel) and stone are
referred to as karesansui (literally, “dry
landscape”) gardens. This style was developed in Japan in the later
Kamakura period (11851333). Many Chinese landscape paintings of the
Southern Sung dynasty were imported to Japan in the 14th and 15th centuries by
Zen Buddhist priests, and they were emulated by Japanese artists like Sesshu
Admission to the Portland Japanese Gardens
Your admission gains access to the Garden, the Garden Gift Store, and when offered, public tours and exhibitions. (Some special events are not included with admission. For more information, please see the events page.)
Admission prices effective January 1, 2010.
Garden Visitor Hours
The Garden is open to visitors seven days a week year-round, closing only on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
The Garden is open until 4pm
Shuttle from parking lot to gate runs on weekends
Guided tours at 1pm on weekends
Summer Season: April 1September 30
Winter Season: October 1March 31
Garden Mission and Values
The 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is composed of five distinct garden styles. When we enter 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. In a deep sense, the Japanese garden is a living reflection of the long history and traditional culture of Japan. Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, there is always “something more” in these compositions of stone, water, and plants than meets the eye.
The purpose of the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon is to create, maintain, improve, and administer an authentic, world-class Japanese garden in the city of Portland and to offer compatible educational, cultural, artistic, horticultural, environmental, and charitable activities.
- Core Values
We believe in and strive for:
Inspiration, serenity, tranquility, and the aestheticism of nature.
Excellence in the management and maintenance of the garden.
Japanese culture, tradition, and aesthetics.
Cultural authenticity directed to the needs of diverse local, national, and international communities.
Environmental awareness and conservation, and the pursuit of environmental sustainability in the operation of the Garden.
Mutual respect and harmony within the board, staff, membership, and with surrounding communities.
Portland Japanese Garden Directions and Map
We hope you enjoy your visit to the city of Roses and to the Portland
Japanese Garden. If you have photos
of the Portland Japanese Garden you’d like to share, please contact us or
post them on the Portland photo gallery.