Professor Takuma Tono, the designer of the Portland Japanese Garden, said, "A Japanese Garden is not only a place for the cultivation of trees and flowering shrubs, but one that provides secluded leisure, rest, repose, meditation, and sentimental pleasure... The Garden speaks to all the senses, not just to the mind alone." His creation certainly lives up to Tono's expectations. Using a mix of plants, stones, and water, the harmonious 5.5 acres constitute five different individual gardens with distinct styles: the Flat Garden, the Strolling Pond Garden, the Tea Garden, the Natural Garden, and the Sand and Stone Garden.
The Flat Garden is the most formal of the five. It encircles a hundred-floormat Pavilion hall and is comprised of deep evergreen and contrasting white sand in the shape of water to create a careful seascape. Symbolism and meaning is rampant in this flat garden of complete balance.
The largest of the five gardens, the Strolling Pond garden is so named because of the two pond in its interior. Within the Upper Pond is the island of Hokkaido, which visitors can reach by crossing the Moon Bridge. By the Lower Pond, the Zig Zag bridge wanders through the flowers, statues, and decorative stones.
The ceremonial Tea House, named Kashin Tei or Flower Heart house, is surrounded by two gardens. Originally the tea house was built in Japan, but it was disassembled and then reassembled in Portland. The Tea Ceremony is very important to Japanese culture and is performed very precisely, so the garden isn't excessively decorative in order to not detract from the ritual. Every element in the garden - every flower, water feature, and stepping stone - was specifically chosen to contribute to the peace of the Tea Ceremony.
The Natural Garden is a windy path lined with ponds, waterfalls, shallow streams, trees shrubs, ferns, and moss that have been left to grow naturally. The path through the garden is meant to b symbolic of the spiritual journey of life.
The abstract style used in the Sand and Stone Garden is typically used in Zen monasteries. Here, sand is carefully raked into designs with weathered stones placed on top. It is a simple yet unique garden method and is worth a look for anyone curious about Japanese culture.
When Portland and Sapporo, Japan became sister cities in 1958, locals gained an interest in Japanese culture until the Mayor decided to create a traditional Japanese Garden for citizens to view and learn from. In 1967, the Portland Japanese Gardens were finally opened to the public. Today it receives more than 200,000 visitors annually, and it has been viewed by many important Japanese officials. His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the Ambassador from Japan to the United States, said the garden was "the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan." His Excellency Ambassador Kunihiko Saito, on the other hand, exclaimed, "I believe this garden to be the most authentic Japanese garden, including those in Japan."