Tranquility of Portland Japanese Garden

Join me in a peaceful stroll through the Portland Japanese Garden, located in the hilltops overlooking Portland, Oregon.

Portland Japanese Garden Peace Lantern - photo by Julie Dodd

The tōrō  is a stone lantern that represents life elements — earth, water, fire and sky. Photo by Julie Dodd

I toured the Garden last summer and thought you might enjoy the calmness of these garden views that I photographed.

The Portland Japanese Garden is 12 acres and contains eight different styles of gardens.

The idea for the garden developed in the 1950s. The Portland mayor and members of the community decided to create a Japanese garden both to add a beautiful garden to Portland and to promote understanding and healing between the US and Japan, following World War II. The garden also reflected the growing cultural ties between Portland and Japan.

Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo Agricultural University designed the garden, traveling between Portland and Japan from 1961-1967 to work on the Garden. The Garden was built on the location of the Washington Park Zoo and originally was 5.5 acres. The site was dedicated in 1961 and formally opened to the public in 1967.

Portland Japanese Garden Kashintei Tea House

Kashintei Tea House – photo by Julie Dodd

As you begin your walk through the Garden, you pass the Kashintei Tea House. The tea house was constructed in Japan in 1968, shipped in two pieces, and reassembled in Portland.

You can see one of the many benches that are placed in the Garden, offering visitors the opportunity to sit and enjoy the view.

Portland Japanese Garden Strolling Pond Garden

Stone lantern and waterfall in the Strolling Pond Garden – photo by Julie Dodd

The Strolling Pond Garden is the largest of the eight gardens and includes ponds and waterways, providing reflection of plants and sky. Strolling ponds in Japan were part of the estates of feudal lords and aristocrats, with some being so large that they had to be viewed by boat.

Portland Japanese Garden Strolling Pond Garden

Crane sculpture – photo by Julie Dodd

Cranes are revered birds in Japan, so crane sculptures are included in many Japanese gardens. They represent peace, longevity, and luck. The cranes in the Portland Japanese Garden looked to be enjoying the afternoon sun.

koa in Portland Japanese Garden - photo by Julie Dodd

Koa swimming along the ZigZag Bridge – photo by Julie Dodd

Walking on the ZigZag Bridge is almost like walking on water, as you are just a few inches above the water. Colorful koa swam along with me. The still water was a mirror for the blue sky and clouds.

Portland Japanese Garden Sapporo Lantern - photo by Julie Dodd

Sapporo Lantern – photo by Julie Dodd

The 18-foot pagoda lantern is the Sapporo Lantern because it was presented to the City of Portland by the City of Sapporo, Japan. The lantern has five stories, symbolizing earth, water, fire, wind and sky.

Portland Japanese Garden Sand and Stone Garden - photo by Julie Dodd

Sand and Stone Garden – photo by Julie Dodd

The Sand and Stone Garden was created by Professor Takuma Tono in the 1960s. Referred to as a Zen meditation garden, the garden is an example of a karesansui garden — a dry landscape.

Japanese Maple in Portland Japanese Garden - photo by Julie Dodd

Japanese Maple – photo by Julie Dodd

The Garden includes numerous Japanese Maples that call attention to themselves with their bright red leaves.

Professor Takuma Tono, designer of the 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.”

I hope this visual walking tour has provided you with a feeling of peace and calm.


Check the  Portland Japanese Garden website for information about the Garden, more photos, and information about purchasing tickets to visit the Garden.

Portland Japanese Garden map

Portland Japanese Garden map


  1. What a lovely place to go for a walk. I particularly like the Japanese Maple and its twisted branches. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva


    1. Aiva – I’m glad you enjoyed the garden. This maple was particularly beautiful with sun filtering through its leaves.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cheryl Pell · · Reply

    Lovely post, Julie. Very serene. I felt as though I were there.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: