Water, Stone & Greenspiration: Inside The Portland Japanese Garden

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Celebrating their milestone 50th Anniversary this year, The Japanese Garden is a must-see for all who love incredibly inspiring beauty.  And who doesn’t? With the acclaim of being the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan plus five holiday ceremonies a year for families, this is the time to get to know our Japanese Garden.

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Curious Garden
Your mini wanderers will love trekking into the Japanese Garden. It’s an uphill trail-o-twists and turns…ready to set imaginations soaring as to what awaits! Once you arrive prepare for knock-your-socks-off splendor. Set the young amblers towards temples, a poetry stone, koi ponds and gorgeous bridges. Keep those eye spy eyes peeled for whimsical statues, colorful flags and symbolic artifacts at every turn.

Water is everywhere…waterfalls, ponds and water features. Also abundant is stone. Stone pathways and steps, stone statues and monuments and stone lion dogs are but some of the many interpretations.  Checking in with volunteers and docents is a fab way to get the story behind and history of all these gems. Nothing is without thought and purpose here. Get the background to truly make it come alive.

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Serenity Now
The Japanese Garden sprawls and sways into five verdant gardens: Flat Garden, Tea Garden, Strolling Pond, Sand & Stone Garden and Natural Garden. Spending time in each will give your crew a real sense of how mighty this place is. Everything has a reason and a there’s a reason for everything.  Legions of volunteers work tirelessly to make this spot the pristine venue for all that it is; how incredible is their collective attention to detail!

taiko drummers

The tea ceremonies and holiday festivals are rad times to bring the gang out for a visit. New Year, Doll, Star and Chrysanthemum Fests and a Children’s Day dot the calendar with symbolic dates of 1/1, 3/3, 5/5 and you get the picture.  Step out of the everyday and try some tea or wear a kimono with members of Kashintei Kai. Sit in on a flower arranging demonstration, try your hand at ink painting, or bang your hearts out at a Taiko workshop. History AND culture for the minis? High five, super-parents!

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Follow the Garden Path
The Pacific Northwest backdrop of Washington Park blends amazingly with the Japanese Garden’s well-manicured landscapes.  It’s also fam-tastic in its location because it’s adjacent to the International Rose Garden and Washington Park’s fabu playground, and it’s a stone’s throw from the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center and Children’s Museum.  You can make a whole day of it if you bring a picnic or hit up one of the aforementioned dens of indoor zeal for their cafes and lunch fare.

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Know Before You Go
It’s a circular journey around the garden. But it is not always stroller friendly. If you’re bringing some wee ones, try a carrier. New walkers may struggle with the stone paths, boardwalks without railings, and uneven steps. There are also plenty of spots off limits to visitors and it’s certainly a tranquil environment, so go when your kiddos are fresh and mellow.

As of October 1, 2013 The Japanese Garden is open noon-4:00 pm on Mondays and 10:00 – 4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday.  Adults are $9.50, kiddos 6-17 are $6.75 and the under 5s are free.  BTW, you know someplace is special when they charge extra to bring in a tripod. Aw yeah. And be sure to note: no outside food or drink allowed except water and no go for an onsite cafe, so snack it up before you arrive.

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. It’s THE 50th Anniversary (!) and many special events abound all year long.

The Portland Japanese Garden
611 SW Kingston Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205

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Let’s just say nothing here is garden variety. So tell us, what is your favorite thing to see at The Japanese Garden? 

— Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of Liz Overson and The Portland Japanese Garden Facebook page.

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