Portland Japanese Garden. Botanic Garden in Portland, Oregon

Portland Japanese Garden

Botanic Garden in Portland, Oregon

Famous Japanese Garden Tree in Portland Photo © Michael Matti

Cover photo full

Portland Japanese Garden

Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | Flickr

Japanese Garden - Portland Japanese
Japanese Garden - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Paul VanDerWerf
Situated in the beautiful West Hills of Portland, Oregon, in Washington Park Portland and near the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden is an extraordinary Japanese garden of meticulously maintained landscaped areas. This 5.5-acre horticultural beauty is often considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan; it includes a tea house, cozy walkway; meandering and bubbling streams, trimmed trees; and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood in the distance. Operated by the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon, the garden is made up of five separate themed gardens, each of which has a different level of formality, according to Japanese tradition.


After Portland became a sister city of Sapporo, Japan, the interest in Japanese culture grew and a few years later it was decided to develop an authentic Japanese garden in the city. The new garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tono in 1963; it was opened to the public four years later, in 1967. The tea house, one of the garden’s most notable features, was built in Japan, taken apart and reassembled in Portland in 1968. In 1988 the Japanese Ambassador to the United States visited the garden and proclaimed that it was the most beautiful and authentic garden outside of his home country.

 - Portland Japanese
Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by unknown


Multi Color
	- Portland Japanese Garden
Multi Color - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Wendy
The fact that this garden is regarded as such a beautiful one is interesting, because it normally takes hundreds of years for a Japanese garden to grow, develop and mature. The Portland Japanese Garden managed to evolve much more quickly, thanks to the combination of the rushed Western mentality and the elegant Eastern expression. The garden aims to create a sense of peace, quiet, tranquility, and harmony, and to allow visitors to experience the feeling of being a part of nature. The five differently styled gardens all have another degree of formality. A Japanese garden, in its deepest essence, is a reflection of Japanese society, the country’s history and its traditional culture.

The garden is influenced by Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto philosophies, meaning that there’s more behind the compositions of stones, plants and water than you would assume. These three elements are essential to any Japanese garden, representing respectively the bones of the landscape, the life-giving force and the decoration of the four seasons.

Flat Garden

The Flat Garden is best enjoyed from either the garden’s Pavilion or Veranda. It kind of resembles a landscape painting, combining elements such as raked sands, tiles, clipped shrubs, and plants representing all four seasons.

Strolling Pond Garden

The Strolling Pond Garden is the largest garden and consists of an Upper and Lower Pond, both connected by a magical-looking stream. The Upper Pond features the Moon Bridge, while the Lower Pond has a zig-zag bridge through iris beds and past a gorgeous waterfall. A highlight in this section is the five-tiered 100-year-old pagoda lantern, which was a gift from the city of Sapporo.

Upper pond - azalea hill in bloom -
	Portland Japanese Garden
Upper pond - azalea hill in bloom - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by pete260

Tea Garden

The lush Tea Garden is home to a stone walking path, meant to help visitors throw off their worries and clear their minds. It’s a place for quiet reflection on living in harmony with nature and with each other. This is the location of the authentic Tea House, used for tea ceremonies.

Sand and Stone Garden

Sand and
	Stone Garden (枯山水) - Portland Japanese Garden
Sand and Stone Garden (枯山水) - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Bruce Dailey
A place for silent contemplation (“zen”), the Sand and Stone Gardens consist of raked sand plains, dotted with weathered rocks and stones. The raked sand patterns are often beautiful.

Natural Garden

Filled with leafy plant and lush vegetation, the Natural Garden is meant to show off its seasonal changes. There are streams, several ponds; waterfalls, mosses; ferns, Japanese maple trees; shrubs, etcetera.

Essential Elements

After the essential three elements that are rocks, water and plants come the secondary elements, the decorative elements. These include bridges, benches, arbors, pagodas and stone lanterns.

Perfect Reflection - Portland
	Japanese Garden
Perfect Reflection - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Ryan Stavely

Visiting the Portland Japanese Garden

 - Portland
	Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Ryan Stavely
The Portland Japanese Garden is open seven days a week throughout the year and is only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. In spring and summer, the garden is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. all other days. In fall and winter, the garden can be visited from noon to 4 p.m. on Monday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on all other days.

Admission is $ 9.50 USD for adults, $ 7.75 USD for seniors and college students, and $ 6.75 USD for children between 6 and 17. Children 5 and under can enter for free.

How to Get There

The garden lies close to the main entrance of Washington Park Portland and only a short walk above the International Rose Test Garden. TriMet (Wikipedia Article) line 63 stops nearby; the Washington Park Shuttle does so as well. Finding a place to park in the area is nearly impossible in summer, so it’s advised to use public transportation, walk or bike.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other green areas in Portland include the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum (Wikipedia
	Article), and Oregon Zoo. History buffs should consider visiting the Portland Art Museum, Fort Vancouver, and the Pittock Mansion.

Do you see any omissions, errors or want to add information to this page? Sign up.

Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Apr 17, 2015

Pictures of Portland Japanese Garden

Japanese Maple [Explore 5/26/14] - Portland Japanese Garden
Japanese Maple [Explore 5/26/14] - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Joe Parks

“That Tree” at the Lower Pond - Portland Japanese Garden
“That Tree” at the Lower Pond - Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Rosa Say


Portland Japanese Garden: Report errors or wrong information

Regular contributors may earn money from their contributions. If your contribution is significant, you may also register for an account to make the changes yourself to this page.
Your report will be reviewed and if correct implemented. Your emailaddress will not be used except for communication about this report if necessary. Thank you for your contribution.
This site uses cookies.