The Portland Japanese Gardens


Ever since I was small, I remember my family taking trips to the Chicago Botanic Gardens. One of my favorite areas was always the Japanese garden, which is situated on a series of islands. Through the years, it always stood out to me because it was so serene + unique.

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Apparently these gardens (and the gardens we saw in our travels to Japan) had an impact on my dad as well. My childhood home, yes – the one on Evergreen Lane, had a small Japanese rock garden in the backyard. It was complete with a Japanese maple, a little wooden bridge, and a dripping fountain. It was probably my favorite corner of the yard.

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So when my friend Meredith tipped me off to the outstanding Japanese gardens in Portland, I knew I had to go. Thankfully, I had a free afternoon before the craziness of the World Domination Summit began, so I hopped on the bus + headed towards the gardens.

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It was a bit of a hike from the bus stop up to the gardens, but I got to appreciate the incredible natural foliage of the Pacific Northwest. While I love living in Colorado, sometimes I miss the abundant deciduous mess that you find in other parts of the country.

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In reading about the gardens, I learned that this was considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, and it is divided into five distinct sections: the flat garden, the strolling pond garden, the tea garden, the natural garden, + finally, the sand + stone garden.

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I love that Japanese gardens focus on creating serene vignettes + making the viewer feel like they are a part of the whole thing. As I walked the gardens, it was as if I was on a little treasure hunt to find the next hidden scene. And this treasure hunt comes with the most relaxing soundtrack, thanks to the element of water playing a huge role in many of the gardens’ designs.

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I could have wandered these gardens for hours, + wish that I had had more time to sit + write while I was there, but it was, unfortunately, close to closing time when I arrived, so the gardens had to be appreciated a bit more quickly than I would have hoped. As far as recommendations for what to do while in Portland, the Japanese gardens would without a doubt top my list.

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