Tranquility abounds in these idyllic Japanese gardens, said by many to be the most authentic outside of Japan.
You’ll want to move slowly as you make your way around the five distinct areas of the Portland Japanese Garden. Often beauty is found in the small details rather than in bold statements; this garden is worth setting aside at least two hours for.
Notice the moss creeping across the stones in the Natural Garden, a symbol of the harmony between human creation and nature’s will. Observe the lines drawn by the rake in the Sand and Stone area, just like in the Zen gardens of Japan’s monasteries.
Head to the Flat Garden to see the cherry trees and azaleas in the spring, or the flame-colored maple leaves in the autumn. These bold statements of color emphasize the importance of the changing seasons in Japanese culture.
The Strolling Pond Garden is the biggest of the five areas. Look out for the stones in the shape of the Big Dipper Constellation, the 1000-year-old pagoda lantern and the handmade moon bridge. Experience a true taste of Japanese culture in the Tea Garden. Authentic Tea Ceremonies are held here every third Saturday.
Important cultural events on the Japanese calendar are marked throughout the year. There’s New Year’s celebrations, the Moon Viewing festival or the highly significant Obon ceremony, when families put on a feast in honor of their dead. Art lovers will find attractions in the year-round Art in the Garden program.
If the natural forms and serenity of the gardens leave you inspired, sign up for one of the gardening workshops. You will learn to prune, clip and plant. Take a little piece of Japan home with you from the gift shop. It sells everything from teapots to incense and books on flower arranging.
Public guided tours of the gardens last 45 minutes and are run three times a day. The price is included in your admission ticket. The garden is open on Monday from noon to 4 p.m. and Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.