Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 12 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.
The 12-acre (4.9 ha) Portland Japanese Garden is composed of eight garden spaces and a Cultural Village.
In 2017, the Cultural Crossing expansion added three new Garden spaces.
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. The west veranda faces the Flat Garden, and the east veranda overlooks downtown Portland and Mount Hood, which resembles Mount Fuji. Dozens of stone lanterns (tōrō) are present throughout the garden. The lower entrance features a 100-year-old temple gate, a 1976 gift of the Japanese Ancestral Society of Portland Oregon.
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. 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.
In 1958, Portland became a sister city of Sapporo, Japan. This inspired Portland business leaders and public officials to create a Japanese garden in Portland. On June 4, 1962, the city council created a commission to establish the garden in Washington Park. The Japanese Garden is built into a forested hillside in Washington Park on land that until 1959 was the site of Portland's zoo, when it moved to its current location. The garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tono of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. The garden was dedicated and design began in 1963; the garden opened to the public in 1967.
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. The former Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Nobuo Matsunaga, said in 1988 that the garden was “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside Japan.”
In April 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 is used for additional educational and artistic programming and to make room for the 350,000 guests the Garden sees each year. In the Tateuchi courtyard, one can admire a 185-ft-long castle wall traditionally built by a 15th-generation Japanese master stonemason.
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 inside Washington Park costs $2 per hour, to a maximum of $8 per day. TriMet bus route 63-Washington Park stops nearby and runs every day. The Washington Park Shuttle, a free service which connects MAX light rail at the Washington Park station to the Japanese Garden, operates seven days a week from April through October, and on weekends from November through March. Once at the garden, there is a shuttle that runs up the hill frequently.
Because the Portland Japanese Garden is a non-profit organization which receives no funding from the city of Portland, non-members must pay an admission fee: