Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon: A place of peace, harmony and tranquility

Last week while attending a training conference in Portland, Oregon, I was very fortunate to have the chance to visit what is considered to be the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.  It was designed by Professor Takuma Tomo in 1963 and encompasses 5 1/2 acres of land with five separate garden styles.

Japanese gardens have an ancient history influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies.  Upon entering a Japanese garden the hope is to realize a sense of peace, harmony and tranquility. 

There are three primary elements used in every Japanese garden design:  stone, the "bones" of the landscape; water, the life-giving force; and plants, the tapestry of the four seasons.  As you stroll through, you will see other important elements which include stone lanterns, water basins, arbor and bridges. 

The Wisteria Arbor leads us to an antique 5-tiered stone pagoda lantern given to Portland from its Sister City, Sapporo, Japan.

The Strolling Pond Garden (chisen kaiyu shiki newa) features the authentic Moon Bridge. 

The lower pond holds tortoise and crane stones, common symbols of longevity.

Within the Tea Garden (roji) there is an Inner Garden (uchi roji) which surrounds the ceremonial Tea House.

The Zig Zag Bride (yatsuhashi) leads through iris beds to the lower pond . . .  

. . . . which holds the Garden's beautiful koi, that swim beneath the very beautiful Heavenly Falls (I love that name).  

The Natural Garden (zoki no niwa) winds its way down the south hillside.

There are beautiful ponds, waterfalls and shallow streams that meander under small bridges, trees, scrubs, ferns and mosses.

The Sand and Stone Garden (karesansui) features the stark simplicity of weathered stones rising from a bed of "sand" raked to suggest the sea.  This garden style is typically found in Zen monasteries.

The Poetry Stone is inscribed with a haiku which reads, "Here, miles from Japan, I stand as if warmed by the spring sunshine of home."

The Flat Garden (hira niwa) is designed using a sea of raked sand.  The two islands of plantings depict a sake cup and gourd-shaped bottle, signifying pleasure and a wish for the visitor's happiness.  Very cool.

As you enter the garden visitors are asked to "discard worldly thoughts and concerns and to see themselves as a small but integral part of the universe".  

We are asked to turn off our cell phones so we may feel the Garden's mood of peace and harmony.  I love this rule.  Nothing would destroy my peace and harmony more than someone on their cell phone chatting away loudly. The price for admission is $9.50 for adults (with some discount prices offered for seniors and children) and it is so worth it.


  1. What a beautiful place. Your photos are wonderful! I love the "turn off your cell phone" rule too. Thanks for sharing this garden!

  2. Hi Annie, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad enjoyed the photos of this beautiful garden. And isn't that the best rule. :) It really did make it a more peaceful expeience because it was very quiet.

    Have a great day today.

  3. This is a tranquil looking space. You've captured it beautifully in your photos. I really like the idea of the Poetry Stone. What a wonderful way to invoke that elusive feeling of "home".

    Thanks for this photo journey. Enjoy your day, A :)

  4. I've read a lot about these gardens - they look lovely. I really enjoy the tranquil setting you find in Japanese gardens - far better than the chaotic look of an English garden.

  5. Hi Anne & Jerry, thank you so much for your comments. . .

    Anne, as soon as we walked in, we immediately felt the peacefulness of the gardens and we were just at the entrance. As we followed the map to the different garden styles we just saying to our selves, beautiful".... I also love the idea of the poetry stone. Just very well thought out garden in every sense. Have a great weekend.

    Jerry, we were actually headed to see the Rose Garden and the bus driver told us that after we see the Rose Garden we simply must see the Japanese Garden too because it is amazing. So we followed his advice and although the Rose Garden was very beautiful too, the Japanese Garden was incredible. Every bush trimmed, all the elements woven intricately together to create this very tranquil setting. We caught the same bus back with the same driver and thanked him for his tip because he was right.

    Thanks again and hope you have a wondeful and tranquil weekend. :)

  6. How very beautiful, and serene. This must have been a wonderful experience, Kathy -- thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Sandra, thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you liked it. Yes, it was such a lovely experience. So peaceful. It really put me in a tranquil mood before the start of our training. :)

    Welcome home! I really loved reading your blog about your wonderful experiences in Italy. It really sounds like you had a fabulous time. Can't wait to hear more about what you saw, ate and experienced. Hope your transition home goes smoothly.

  8. What a cool place! Looks so peaceful. Love your photos :)

  9. Hi Girasoli, thanks so much. I'm glad you like my photos.

  10. So happy you were able to visit. I enjoyed my first visit there this past January. Lovely and serene setting. Magical really.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.