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The Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon: Spectacular Views

Our two-week Oregon vacation was fantastic, making us wish to someday see more of this most scenic of states in the beautiful northwest.

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden of Portland, Oregon, is in Washington Park, and if one wishes to find serenity, this beautifully designed garden will provide the perfect place.

Professor P. Takuma Tono was the designer of Portland's Japanese Garden. He is internationally known as an expert in Japanese garden designs, and the one in Portland ranks at the top in authenticity.

Vacationing one summer with my mother and niece, we had hoped to escape some of Houston's summer heat. We planned a trip to Oregon, which is in the Northwest part of the United States, thinking that we would enjoy some cooler temperatures for our two-week stay. Alas! A headline in The Oregonian, the Portland, Oregon's newspaper, said the following, on August 4, 1987: "August sun roasts Oregonians..."

Despite some record-breaking heat, we started our sightseeing and were delighted to find the soothing and restful grounds of Portland's Japanese Garden. Walking through a garden filled with artistically placed rocks, plants, and trees of varying heights and color hues, shimmering fish in the tranquil ponds of water, and other discoveries was so enjoyable that we almost forgot the heat.

In order to comprehend the beauty of a Japanese garden, it is necessary to understand - or at least to learn to understand - the beauty of stone.

— Lafcadio Hearn

Strolling Pond Garden

There are five distinct garden styles within the Japanese Garden, and the Strolling Pond Garden is aptly named.

Wandering through this Strolling Pond Garden, which is the largest of the five gardens within the Japanese Garden, the water reflections bounce back distorted images of the surrounding plants, rocks, and even passing clouds in the sky. It provides the subject matter for plein air painters or photographers who wish to freeze some of these delightful images in place for remembering later.

The bridge pictured in some of my photos in the Strolling Pond Garden is called The Moon Bridge and is a typical Japanese design. The crane is a typical sculpture found in Japanese Gardens no matter where in the world the gardens are located. It seems to fit in nicely with this aquatic setting.

The Flat Garden

In gardens like this, the raked sand has patterns symbolizing waves in the sea. There is not a footprint seen by the people who carefully instill these designs into the sand.

This Flat Garden was next to the Garden Pavilion, of which I did not take a photo. The Pavilion is the site for Japanese-type events as well as Society functions. It is not typically open to the public. On the east side of the Pavilion, a panoramic view of Portland and the gorgeous snow-capped Mount Hood is in the view from this elevated position.

The Natural Garden

In this portion of the garden, one discovers small waterfalls splashing into streams of water with colorful fish swimming in the company of one another.

Trails lead one under native trees, which form a protective canopy of shade for the ferns and mosses which thrive in this environment. Other colorful shrubs and flowers, plus the occasional sculpture, add punctuation marks to this serene setting.

Other Areas

The other two gardens are called the Sand and Stone Garden and Tea Garden.

Visiting Portland's Japanese Garden is a treat for the senses and would offer a variety from season to season. I can imagine the gorgeous colors of the azalea bushes in the spring of the year or the multitudes of irises in bloom in early summer and the spectacular colored fall leaves which would adorn this garden! Winter, of course, would serve up its pristine beauty.

Portland's Japanese Garden sits on only five and a half acres which is not particularly large. One can linger, perhaps even meditate in all of the various settings within this invitingly scenic garden. We, however, were on a tour of the city, and my mother, niece, and I had to keep up with our tour group in moving throughout the grounds.

Please enjoy these photos and the videos in this article.

The Japanese garden is a very important tool in Japanese architectural design because, not only is a garden traditionally included in any house design, the garden itself also reflects a deeper set of cultural meanings and traditions. Whereas the English garden seeks to make only an aesthetic impression, the Japanese garden is both aesthetic and reflective. The most basic element of any Japanese garden design comes from the realization that every detail has a significant value.

— E. J. W. Barber

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 22, 2021:

If you enjoy visiting Japanese Gardens, this one is a beauty!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 11, 2018:

Hi Robert,

Yes I have visited the Japanese Garden in San Antonio. It is a beauty because of the setting. We have a nice one here in Houston also. It is in a portion of Hermann Park just north of the Texas Medical Center. The rocks used are all Texas granite which makes it interesting.

Robert Sacchi on March 11, 2018:

Have you ever visited the Japanese Garden in San Antonio?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2015:

Hi amazmerizing,

You are lucky to be living in such a gorgeous part of our country. The northwest is indeed beautiful! Glad you liked the photos taken in this particular Japanese Garden located in Portland.

amazmerizing from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA on January 29, 2015:

So lovely... the Pacific Northwest is where we have always lived. There are numerous lovely botanical gardens everywhere. We always visit as many as we can. This garden is absolutely stunning, and your photos are fabulous. I love the koi ponds! Thanks for sharing! Thumbs up!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 26, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

The two weeks we spent exploring the State of Oregon were glorious. There is so much spectacular beauty in that state! Hope you get a chance to visit up there someday. Thanks for the votes and shares, etc.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 25, 2015:

Hi peachpurple,

It certainly gives one an idea of what the Japanese gardens would look like in Japan. Serene and peaceful and beautiful comes to mind. :)

C E Clark from North Texas on January 24, 2015:

I've never been to Oregon, but I've heard how scenic it is in lots of places, and seen for myself in gorgeous photos like yours in this article. What a lovely day it must have been to spend in such beautiful surroundings.

Gave you 5 more stars, voted up and BAUI, pinned to my 'Travel' board, and will share.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 24, 2015:

wow, the japanese garden is beautiful, needn't fly to japan

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 07, 2013:

Hi pstraubie48,

Wow! Getting to see Japanese Gardens in Japan must be amazing! How long did you live there? These types of gardens are truly soothing to the soul. Thanks for your comment. Sending angels back to you!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 06, 2013:

Thank you, Peggy. These gardens are so calming and soothing. I visited Japanese gardesna while living in Japan and there was just somethng so

incredibly peaceful about sitting there and relecting.

Great hub

Sending Agnels to you today :) ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 28, 2012:

Hi Suzie HQ,

Happy to hear that you liked the virtual tour of this Japanese Garden in Portland. Thanks for the link in your hub about the Japanese Garden in Ireland. I added a link to your hub in mine also. The one in Houston, Texas is also gorgeous but what makes it different is the use of local granite stone. Appreciate your comment.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on October 27, 2012:

Hi Peggy!

What a lovely tour you went on, the garden looks stunning and I can the weather was glorious, not the cool temps you were hoping for! The stone ornaments are beautiful in your pictures. Voted up, interesting and beautiful. Will link to mine as I would definitely recommend people visit here if in OR:-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 24, 2012:

Hi Mary,

Too bad about your bamboo fencing blowing away in your backyard Japanese Garden setting. Guess if the house made it through, that is the main thing. Right? You could always get some more bamboo... Thanks for commenting & sharing the info about the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. It is a beauty! We have a different styled one in Houston that I have written about. It is a little oasis in the heart of the city.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on July 24, 2012:

I have always loved Japanese gardens! I built a little waterfall in my backyard once, put a lantern in the setting and put up a bamboo fence. It was SO cute. Then we had a hurricane and my fence blew away. I still have the waterfall and the lantern though.

I enjoyed this tour through the Japanese Garden of Portland, Oregon.

I voted this UP, and will share the beauty

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 26, 2011:

Hi Kathy Sprinkle,

Thank you for adding this post regarding the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon to your blog. Appreciate it!

Kathy Sprinkle on November 26, 2011:

Thank you for the inspiration! I added this post to my Speaking of Serenity round up! http://blisshabits.com/?p=3823

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 19, 2011:

Hello mljdgulley354,

Hope that you and your husband get to enjoy the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon together soon sharing the experience. It is so lovely and such a great setting overlooking the city from high atop a hill. Thanks for your comment.

mljdgulley354 on November 19, 2011:

I'm so glad I came across this hub. I visited the Japanese Gardens in Portland with my family when the kids were very young. Since moving back to Oregon, this is one place I want to share with my husband

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 17, 2011:

Hello trimar7,

Thanks for commenting on this hub about the Japanese Garden of Portland, Oregon and glad that you found the pictures enjoyable.

trimar7 from New York on January 17, 2011:

Gorgeous gardens. Beautiful pics - thank you for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 25, 2010:

Hello huggy3760,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub about the Japanese Garden of Portland, Oregon. I've always enjoyed visiting beautiful gardens when traveling or even staying close to home. Thanks for your comment.

huggy3760 from Bathgate Scotland on December 24, 2010:

A very interesting well put together hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 04, 2010:

Greetings sirrot,

Took a look and have already linked your great photos and hub to this one about the Japanese Garden in Portland. Thanks for commenting!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 01, 2010:

I agree with you, FirstStepsFitness. Portland's Japanese Garden is surely that!

FirstStepsFitness on August 01, 2010:

Beautiful garden !

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 25, 2010:

Hi epigramman,

Hahaha! No Geisha girls were spotted serving warmed saki rice wine in Portland's Japanese Garden the day that we visited. Maybe on special occasions? I suppose anything is possible! :-)

epigramman on July 25, 2010:

..lovely pictures you have put together ..... although I find my serenity through your hubs - and now that I've found a Japanese garden - I have the best of both worlds!!

So bring on the warm saki rice wine and my favorite Geisha girl!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 14, 2010:

Hi prasetio,

Japanese Gardens do seem to portray a certain feeling of calmness and serenity. This one in Portland, Oregon is a beauty and apparently very authentic. Thanks for the visit.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on July 14, 2010:

I always like Japanese Garden. I contain great philosophy about life. I am glad when it combine with beautiful pond, stone and other instrument which show that this was really Japanese garden. Nice pictures, I love it. I vote this Up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 14, 2010:

Hi billyaustindillon,

...and the Rose Garden and Miller Outdoor Theatre, plus the public golf course. All of this is in the same vacinity in Houston just north of the Texas Medical Center in Hermann Park for those who might not know. Houston is a great city! Slightly off topic since this is about the Japanese Garden of Portland, Oregon which we really enjoyed visiting while on vacation. :-)

billyaustindillon on July 13, 2010:

Yes it a great day out that the zoo and the new train ride around the park also with the museum of natural science nearby.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 13, 2010:

Hi billyaustindillon,

Glad you liked this Japanese Garden hub from Portland, Oregon. As to the Japanese Garden in Houston...I've been there several times and will visit it again in the future...especially with out-of-town company who may wish to see it.

billyaustindillon on July 13, 2010:

Gorgeous Peggy - you do put together some great travel hubs. Have you spent much time at the Japanese gardens at Hermann Park?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2010:

Hi Deerwhisperer,

Had you visited the Japanese Garden in Portland since you lived nearby? I totally agree with you that Oregon is a beautiful state! Thanks for the visit.

Brenda K Krupnow from Ravenden, AR on July 09, 2010:

What a beautiful garden! I used to live near Portland and thought it was a beautiful state.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 09, 2010:

Thanks jasper420,

Prayer and meditation would be a natural in the Japanese Garden in Portland. I agree...it is beautiful.

jasper420 on July 09, 2010:

Beautiful pics i would love to go there and pray it looks so peacefull and you did such a great job with this hub

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2010:

Hi suny51,

Glad you liked this hub about the Japanese Garden in Portland. We were introduced to it and other sites on a city tour of Portland, Oregon. When on vacations we generally did take tours as a matter of course when in a new place. After a tour, one can go back and spend more time in areas one enjoyed if time permits. Thanks for the comment.

suny51 on July 08, 2010:

Peggy I am really impressed with this japanese garden and the way you have presented it,beautiful as always.Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2010:

Greetings kgnature,

Nice to see you visiting here and I am happy that you considered these pictures from the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon a treat. Thanks for the comment.

kgnature from North Carolina on July 08, 2010:

Nice pictures. I'm on the east coast and not likely to find an opportunity to visit, but your pictures are a treat.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2010:

Hello heymcs,

Happy to hear that viewing and reading about Portland's Japanese Garden was "just what the doctor ordered" for you this morning. Glad I could fill that particular prescription. :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2010:

Hi Mike,

So you have relatives in the area. Can I join your family as a member? Haha! Even though we had to see Portland and more of Oregon as tourists, it left lasting memories of its beauty. Glad to hear that you liked these pictures of the Japanese Garden. It ALMOST made us forget the heat! (Actually we are used to the summer heat living in Houston...just wished to escape it for our two week stay).

heymcs from Utah and DC on July 08, 2010:

Peggy, Your hub was just what the doctor ordered for me this morning. I needed some beauty & serenity in my life and your hub (and those beautiful pics) did it. Thank you again for sharing your special adventures with us. Next time I am out west, I'd love to visit The Japanese Garden.

Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on July 07, 2010:

I had to chuckle when you started out by mentioning you visited Oregon during a heat wave. This beautiful place you saw could easily make one forget the heat. The bridges were beautiful, and the scenery was as well. I have some relatives in the area--might be time for a visit.

Oh, and as always, your photography was tremendous.

Mike

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hello Lee B,

When you visit the Japanese Garden in Portland, be sure and also visit the Rose Garden nearby. It is also a beauty.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hello Om Paramapoonya,

Very nice to hear such positive comments about this Japanese Garden hub from Portland, Oregon. Thanks!

Lee A Barton from New Mexico on July 07, 2010:

Your photos are so beautiful! I can hardly wait to visit Portland now. I'm not that far away, just don't know when I can get away, but I'm definitely motivated. Great hub!

Om Paramapoonya on July 07, 2010:

What a gorgeous place! Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures, videos as well as your wonderful experience with us, Peggy. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hi Micky Dee,

Glad to hear that you enjoyed this look at the pictures and videos of the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon. Thanks for the comment.

Micky Dee on July 07, 2010:

Very nice gardens. I enjoyed the videos and your pictures! Thanks Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hello Sally's Trove,

My husband and I have also visited the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. Beautiful spot! Thanks for commenting about the Japanese Garden in Portland. With a world-wide rating of being the number 1 most authentic outside of Japan, it is well worth a visit!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hi dahoglund,

You are always so complimentary! Thanks! Heading over to your Black Hawk hub now.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Greetings KoffeeKlatch Gals,

Love the name you have chosen! I used to enjoy doing that with some neighbors we had in Wisconsin way back in the 1970's. Fun!

Glad you liked these pictures of the Japanese Garden in Portland, and yes, I feel fortunate that we got to visit them. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 07, 2010:

Hi Hello, hello,

Thanks for viewing the pictures of the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon and commenting. Do you have any Japanese Gardens in your part of the world that you have visited?

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on July 07, 2010:

Peggy, thank you for the lovely tour. It brought back memories of living in California and visiting the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. I never ventured as far north as Portland, but should I some day, this beautiful Japanese garden you describe in words and pictures will be a destination.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on July 07, 2010:

You always do an excellent hub on scenic places. An essay of words and pictures.

I did a hub on Black Hawk if it interest you.

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on July 07, 2010:

The Japanese looks beautiful and serenehow lucky you are to have visited it. Great pictures.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on July 07, 2010:

Thank you for your glorious pictures of a beautiful garden.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 06, 2010:

Hi nifty@50,

Your grandfather's house must have been beautiful indeed if it reminded you of the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon! I am impressed! Thanks for the comment.

nifty@50 on July 06, 2010:

These pictures reminded me of my Grandfather's house! In his back yard, he had 20ft bamboo growing around his fence, for complete privacy and two large Gold fish ponds.

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