A Day At The Portland Japanese Garden

If you are ever in Portland I have the perfect spot for you to visit, the Portland Japanese Garden. A traditional Japanese garden occupying 12 acres, located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon. The garden is considered to be one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of  Japan and it's breathtaking! So without further ado, let's begin!

During our trip to Portland, we attempted to see as much as possible. I've been wanting to visit the Portland Japanese Garden for a while, and we were told that its' a place you do not to miss. So, I was very excited that it was in our itinerary during our trip. When you first enter the garden, you must hike a little way up to get to the top where the garden is located. No worries, it's pretty easy to hike and there's no steep inclines. 

Tip: Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, you'll be walking a lot. 
The Portland Japanese Garden was established in 1963, the 12 acre garden features eight public garden spaces that represent different styles of traditional Japanese gardening techniques. I'll try to talk about all eight gardens but I'm pretty sure I'll leave some out. 
One of the first gardens we saw was the Flat Garden [hira-niwa], and as soon as we enter this garden we felt immersed in traditional Japanese culture. This garden is the perfect example of how gardens in Japan have continued to develop the dry landscape style of the karesansui. I was immediately impressed, I felt very zen inside this garden and it was so beautiful and peaceful.

Like I mentioned earlier, The Portland Japanese Garden is considered one of the most authentic gardens outside of Japan. When his excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan." That's incredible! 
The next garden we enter is the largest garden, the Strolling Pond Garden [chisen kaiyu shiki teien], it consists of upper and lower ponds connected by a flowing stream. One thing I loved about this garden was the Koi. The Portland Japanese Garden has about 50 Koi and they draw a lot of visitors every year. You can see a few Koi swimming in the top and bottom photographs.

Friendly Reminder: Don't throw coins into the water, the Koi might think its food and eat it!
As you can probably already tell, the Portland Japanese Garden is incredibly breathtaking. People come from all over the world to visit, they are nationally recognized for their year-round beauty. One of the most popular landscape tree inside the Portland Japanese Garden is their famous Japanese Maple tree, this maple tree is rumored to be one of the most photographed trees in the United States, and when you see it in person, you'll understand why! Look at it, it's gorgeous!

Tip: Spring and summer are a beautiful time to visit the garden, you'll typically get  the best colors but it's also their busiest time of the year, so keep that in mind.
The next garden we entered was the Sand and Stone Garden, another (karesansui) dry landscape garden. As we walked around this garden, I definitely felt a sense of serenity and tranquility. Living in a semi-major city, it's not very often I get the opportunity to unwind, unplug, and enjoy nature. So, sitting near this garden was very relaxing. It was so peaceful and quiet, the perfect place to meditate, it was pure bliss.

Fun Fact: An important Japanese aesthetic principle about these dry landscape gardens is yohaku-no-bi, meaning “the beauty of blank space.”
After a lot of walking we ended up at the Natural Garden, this garden was created to encourage visitors to rest and reflect on the essence of life. It's the most contemporary garden, done in a style referred to as zoki no niwa, and it includes many plants not traditionally associated with Japanese gardens.
I loved the Natural Garden, everything just seem very natural and organic, I mean look at this beautiful glowing mossy hill.
Pro Tip: Don't miss the breathtaking view of Mount Hood at the back of the garden. I could've stood here all day, taking in this scene. At times there was some clouds covering the mountain but it was still so beautiful.
After walking around the entire garden, we went back to some of our favorite spots again. We ended up spending about two hours here, but I would say give yourself about an hour or so, that should be more than enough time to enjoy the entire place. I must admit, I truly had so much fun visiting the Portland Japanese Garden. I left feeling inspired, more connected to nature and with a greater understanding of Japan. If you’re ever travelling to Portland and looking for a place to zen out, the Portland Japanese Garden is great place to visit. It's really worth seeing at any time of year! Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you all next time!

For more Portland related posts, click here.

What's your opinion?

  1. Wow, this garden is beautiful. I love visiting places like this to hide from the world in. The Maple tree is so beautiful, it all gave me fall vibes which I'm already getting excited for.

    xo
    Juliana | Ohhjuliana

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Girl I feel you, I'm ready for fall because this heat is no joke.

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