The Ultimate Guide To Portland Japanese Garden

The Ultimate Guide To Portland Japanese Garden

The Ultimate Guide To Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden, a glimpse of Japan in Portland!

Portland Japanese Garden, home to eight distinct Japanese gardens along with ponds, wooden bridges, waterfalls, and authentic Japanese structures, creating a whole different world in the heart of Portland!

Built as an effort to rebuild the broken ties between the two countries post World War II, the Portland Japanese Garden symbolizes harmony and peace between Japan and the US. The Portland Japanese Garden was designed to reflect various aspects and styles of Japanese gardening practices in the different eras. The Portland Japanese Garden is home to eight distinct Japanese Gardens, a tea house, a cultural village showcasing Japanese arts and culture, a cafe serving Japanese fare, and hosts various seasonal exhibitions and performances.

Located in Portland’s West Hills neighborhood, the Portland Japanese Garden is a gateway to nature close to the bustling Portland downtown. Besides the Japanese Garden, the West Hills neighborhood is packed with several other attractions, including Washington Park, International Rose Test Garden, Oregon Zoo, Pittock Mansion, and an array of shopping and dining options.

Enjoy the various gardens, architectures and learn about the cultural significance on a self-guided or a guided tour of the Japanese Garden.

The Portland Japanese Garden can be enjoyed on a self-guided tour by simply strolling through the various gardens or on a guided group tour offered by the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden also offers private guided tours and photography tours of the gardens. Whichever way you decide to explore the garden, you will enjoy ethereal beauty and witness a whole new world in Portland Japanese Garden.

Here is my ultimate guide to Portland Japanese Garden, featuring essential trip-planning information, things to do in Portland Japanese Garden, nearby attractions, and recommendations on hotels and restaurants near Portland Japanese Garden!

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Planning Your Trip To Portland Japanese Garden

Planning Your Trip To Portland Japanese Garden

Every season offers a distinct scenery and experience at Portland Japanese Garden!

Best Time To Visit Portland Japanese Garden: Spring and Summer are the peak seasons, but given the mild Winters in Portland, the Portland Japanese Garden is a year-round destination. However, every season offers a different scenery at Portland Japanese Garden, including cherry blossom in the Spring, lush green Summers with several festivals and activities, gorgeous foliage in Fall, and snow-capped trees in Winter. 

Time Required At Portland Japanese Garden: I would recommend spending at least half a day at Portland Japanese Garden, leisurely exploring the several gardens, learning about Japanese culture at Cultural Village, exploring exhibits in the Pavilion Gallery, and trying some Japanese tea and food at Umami Cafe. If you’re planning to do a guided tour of the Garden, you may need additional time based on the tour you select.

Getting To Portland Japanese Garden: The best way to get to Portland Japanese Garden is by flying into Portland and then driving or taking a bus/shuttle to Portland Japanese Garden. Alternatively, you could also take a train or bus to get to Portland, Oregon, and then rent a car and drive, or use local transportation to get to Portland Japanese Garden.

  • Flight: Portland International Airport (PDX), Portland, Oregon, is the closest airport to Portland Japanese Garden, located about 15 miles from Portland Japanese Garden, and is served by all major airlines. 
  • Train: The Portland Union Station is the nearest Amtrak station to Portland Japanese Garden, located about 15 miles from Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Bus: Greyhound offers bus services to Portland, with the closest Greyhound bus stop being Portland and Portland Bolt Lloyd Center, both located within 15 miles from Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Local Transportation: Besides taxis and ride-hailing services, you could also use MAX Light Rail and connecting TriMet bus services to get to Portland Japanese Garden from Portland.

Parking In Portland Japanese Garden: There’s limited parking available at Portland Japanese Garden, but it might be challenging to find parking during the Summer months, which is the busiest season for the Garden and the nearby attractions in the area. You could beat the crowd by getting there early or using local transportation, MAX Light Rail and TriMet bus services.

Other Attractions Near Portland Japanese Garden: West Hills is a lively neighborhood in Portland, a popular dining and shopping district close to Portland Downtown, and home to serval other attractions besides the Portland Japanese Garden.

  • International Rose Test Garden: Located less than a mile, the International Rose Test Garden offers a unique opportunity to see several thousand rose trees from all over the globe.
  • Oregon Zoo: Cherished by families, the Oregon Zoo is located about two miles from the Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Pittock Mansion: The Pittock Mansion, a historic house and a museum, is another popular attraction and landmark near Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Portland Downtown: Within walking distance from the Portland Japanese Garden, the Portland Downtown offers several shopping and dining opportunities.

Lodging Near Portland Japanese Garden: There’re several lodging options in Portland, ranging from chain hotels to luxury boutique hotels. Here’re my top picks for hotels in Portland

Dining Options Near Portland Japanese Garden: While the Umami Cafe is an excellent place to try Japanese fare inside the Portland Japanese Garden, given the Garden proximity to Portland Downtown, you will also find several other great dining choices nearby. Here’re my top picks for restaurants near Portland Japanese Garden – RingSide Steakhouse for classic steaks and American fare, Carina Lounge for great Mediterranean food, Serratto Restaurant and Bar for exceptional Italian food, and Brazil Grill for all you can eat variety roasted meats.

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Things To Do In Portland Japanese Garden

Things To Do In Portland Japanese Garden

Stroll the gardens, explore the several exhibits, enjoy seasonal performances, and savor Japanese fare at Umami Cafe!

The Portland Japanese Garden, encompassing an area of 12 acres, features several Japanese Gardens, waterfalls, bridges, and structures, allowing visitors to experience different gardening styles and Japanese culture. The serene nature at Portland Japanese Garden is further complemented with various exhibits, seasonal performances, and amazing views of Mount Hood.

The Eight Gardens Of Portland Japanese Garden: Each garden styled according to a distinct gardening style practiced in Japan offers an entirely different landscape and experience as you meander from one garden to another.  

  • Entry Garden: The Entry Garden is the first garden at the entrance of the Portland Japanese Garden, welcoming visitors with the views of a cascading pond and a stone pathway lined with towering ancient trees.
  • Strolling Pond Garden: The largest of all gardens, the Strolling Pond Garden comprising two ponds and two bridges, is a luxurious gardening style practiced in Japan. 
  • Tea Garden: Showcasing a traditional Japanese tea garden decorated with stepping stones and lanterns, leading to a Tea House, the Tea Garden reflects Japanese culture and traditions.
  • Sand & Stone Garden: The Sand and Stone garden designed only with gravels and stones, a minimalist garden, represents the gardening style that emphasizes the beauty of blank space.
  • Flat Garden: Striking a balance between empty spaces and extravagant gardens, the Flat Garden represents a minimalist style that uses sand, gravel, and shrubs that are often molded in various shapes. The Flat Garden is also home to the Pavilion gallery, which hosts several seasonal exhibitions.
  • Natural Garden: Owing to its name, the Natural Garden offers tranquil nature with a meandering pathway passing through a lush and mossy garden with a cascading creek.
  • Tsubo-Niwa: This section features a style of gardening practiced in Japan during the Heian period, showcasing how small gardens were incorporated in urban settings.
  • Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace: Featuring the art of bonsai, the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace showcases several bonsai trees and miniaturized potted plants.

Cultural Village: Owing to its name, the Cultural Village in Portland Japanese Garden offers several opportunities to learn and experience Japanese culture through its several exhibits, artworks, structures, seasonal performances, and demonstrations. The Cultural Village is home to the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace, a Concierge desk providing information about the tours and events, and a few other buildings listed below.

  • Learning Center: Also known as the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center, with a classroom, library, gallery, and auditorium, the Learning Center provides an opportunity to experience Japanese culture through its several exhibit and demonstrations. 
  • Tanabe Gallery: Located inside the Learning Center, the Tanabe Gallery hosts various seasonal exhibitions in Portland Japanese Garden.
  • Umami Cafe: Serving authentic Japanese fare and tea, the Umami Cafe brings Japan’s culinary experience to Portland.
  • Garden Gift Shop: The Garden Gift Shop is an excellent place to buy a genuine Japanese handicraft and other items as a souvenir of the Portland Japanese Garden. 

Significant Sculptures & Structures: There’re several historically and culturally significant sculptures and structures present in Portland Japanese Garden, ranging from replicas of designs and buildings from Japan to historically important statues.

  • Antique Gate: The Japanese-style entrance gate, located at the entrance of the Portland Japanese Garden, is an antique gate that was gifted to the Garden by the Japanese Ancestral Society.
  • Peace Lantern: Located in the Strolling Pond Garden, the Peace Lantern is a stone lantern inscribed with the words “Casting the Light of Everlasting Peace,” a gift to Portland from the city of Yokohama, Japan, and is part of the Garden since its opening in 1967.
  • Sapporo Pagoda: The Sapporo Pagoda, featured in the Strolling Pond Garden, is an ancient five-tiered lantern that was a gift to Portland from the city of Sapporo, Japan.
  • Moon Bridge: Located in the Strolling Pond Garden, the Moon Bridge is a Japanese-style wooden arch bridge, installed in the year 1967 and symbolizes a passage to unity and peace.
  • Zig Zag Bridge: The Zig Zag Bridge, located in Strolling Pond Garden that leads to the Heavenly Falls, is a Japanese Yatsuhashi bridge, a bridge made of wooden planks forming a zig-zag pattern.
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Planning Your Trip To Portland Japanese GardenI hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Portland Japanese Garden, and I hope this will help you plan your trip to the Portland Japanese Garden. You can find other Oregon attractions in my Oregon Travel Guide.

Happy feeding your soul!

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