Tucked into the scenic West Hills of Portland, above Washington Park and near the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden is a haven of meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty. Proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) space includes an authentic Japanese tea house, meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.
Founded in 1963 as a symbol of healing between the World War II adversaries, the grounds feature five separate garden styles, working in harmony to create a sense of peace. The lush Tea Garden is focused on a stone walking path designed to help visitors shed the concerns of the outside world. The Strolling Pond Garden would be a display of wealth in Japan, but in this case reflects the rich landscape, with a bridge zigzagging through beds of iris by a waterfall. The Natural Garden is full of leafy trees and plants, deliberately placed to show off their changes through the seasons. Designed before Zen Buddhism became popular in the U.S., the Sand and Stone Garden uses the elements as focal points for quiet contemplation. And the Flat Garden, which can be best enjoyed from the garden’s pavilion, is reminiscent of a landscape portrait, combining various elements into a serene, four-season tableau.
In April 2017, the Japanese Garden completed its first-ever upgrade since it opened, enhancing its five original areas — the Flat Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden and Sand & Stone Garden — with the Cultural Crossing Expansion. The massive undertaking added LEED certified buildings and seven new garden spaces, all with the goal of expanding the garden’s teachings and maintaining its tranquil vibe.
Guided tours are included with cost of admission, and the garden also hosts frequent events. Among the Portland Japanese Garden’s most popular affairs are its autumn moon-viewing nights, which feature live music, tea and sake service and seasonal Japanese foods under the illuminated sky.