Portland Japanese Garden

By Victor Block
This item appears on page 26 of the January 2022 issue.

Meandering along gentle pathways past and through a blanket of greenery highlighted by explosions of color, my wife, Fyllis, and I could have been in Japan, but we weren’t. 

A highlight of our visit to Portland, Oregon, in August 2019 was a stop at the Portland Japanese Garden (611 SW Kingston Ave.; 503/223-1321, japanesegarden.org)*, which provided fond memories of our sojourn to the Land of the Rising Sun two years earlier.

This oasis of beauty and serenity in the midst of a teeming city seemed to transport us to a different world, and time. That was only natural in a setting considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of that country.

Choosing to forgo the available shuttle bus, we took a leisurely stroll from the entrance gate to the top of the hillside into which the gardens are built. There we checked out the Cultural Village, avoiding the gift shop and heading straight for the terrace, which is adorned with a collection of graceful bonsai trees. We marveled at the time and patience it takes to produce such tiny renditions of much larger trees.

From there, we followed the path through the gardens, taking time to relax at various spots along the way and to enjoy sculptures vying with the flowers for top billing.

Other touches added to our fantasy of being in Tokyo…. 

Ornamental cherry trees provided a lovely backdrop. 

A perfectly contoured and raked sand garden was magnificent in its simplicity. 

Multihued koi lazily explored small ponds, as they have since those ornamental fish were first bred in their home country in the early 19th century. 

Other water features were lined by stone lanterns and spanned by graceful walking bridges.

This immersion in bountiful beauty took place on US soil but transported us, in spirit, to another country halfway around the Earth.

Washington, DC

*Admission to the garden costs $18.95, adult, or $16.25, senior (65+).