A trip to the Washington Park area necessitates a visit to Portland's Japanese Gardens. We took advantage of a beautiful day to visit and enjoyed it very much. There is a fee to get in, $9.50 for adults, but it was well worth it.
We managed to hook up with one of the volunteers and enjoyed a guided group tour. Our guide, Libbi, did an excellent job of describing the various garden styles and providing insight into the placement of various objects.
Within the gardens, you will find it to be very quiet and tranquil. Lots of people will just walk through or sit and meditate.
The Portland Japanese Garden is located on a hill overlooking the city, inside Washington Park near the Rose Garden (the actual Rose Garden, not the big concrete arena on the east side of the river). While much of the facility is in forest, the garen includes one of the famous photo locations in Portland, as for decades any time you would look up Portland, Oregon in the encyclopedia or other location the photo of the city would be of the Rose Garden overlooking the city, from a location near the Rose Garden. The most popular of those locations overlooking the Rose Garden is located inside the Japanese Garden.
As you can see in the first photo, the city view from here is today still very popular with photographers and tourists.
As much as possible, the garden is modeled after a true Japanese garden, and even Japanese visitors marvel at how authentic it is made. Portland's sister city in Japan has a bit of credit to take for that, as well.
Water features, including ponds, fountains, a Japanese bird chaser (water powered noise maker) and waterfalls are scattered through the garden. There is a house modeled after a Shinto temple which sometimes features special art shows and art sales. Near the house there is a Japanese style rock garden.
Photo 2 shows one of the ponds in the facility, and photo 5 shows people on one of the stone walkways watching the fish in the pond.
Watch your step!: many of the pathways are irregular genuite stone pathways, just as are found in Japan, and as such are not what the average American is used to having in such a public facility.
The management of the facility says "the Portland Japanese Garden requires the location credit "Portland Japanese Garden, Portland, OR" in all uses of Garden photos in print, on the web, in broadcast, and in any other public medium," and thus you will notice all of my photos carry this caption.
The gift shop features a number of "Japanese" type items, but unfortunately they are mostly Chinese made imitations.
NOTES: There is a $2 fee for tripods, and there is a strict photography policy (including no potrait photography - for details see their web site, below).
This part of Washington Park has a lot of popular attractions, including the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden and several playgrounds, plus an outdoor theatre that occasionally sees concerts. If you are physically able to do so, I highly recommed taking TriMet bus route #63 up the hill. If it is a nice day, you will most likely not find any parking places anywhere near the Japanese Garden.
Unfortunately, bus route #63 only operates on a sporadic timetable now - it was cut back recently, and possibly will not be reinstated. There is talk of cutting the route completely. However, during the peak tourist season, there is also a "Washington Park Shutte" bus that operates from the Washington Park MAX station to the Rose Garden, and is as close as you will get to the Japanese Garden by public transit.
If you don't mind walking, you can walk from the Goose Hollow MAX station as well. Go up the hill on Jefferson Street (the street MAX runs on, and goes under the arch bridge). As the road starts to go around the curve to the left, enter Washington Park (continue going straight on a road that is now disused). You can then weave up the side of the hill on this old road. Follow the signs to the Rose Garden. Once in the Rose Garden, continue climbing to get to the Tennis Courts. From the Tennis Courts, cross the street and small parking area and the entrance road to the Japanese Garden is right there. As the garden is located on the ridge above the Rose Garden, there is a Japanese Garden shuttle van that operates on peak weekends to take visitors the extra way to the entrance, but if you are physically able to do so I suggest taking the pathway.
A Garden where a japanese/chinese culture is very rich. Afternoon tea by the manmade lake is also available for purchase and a tour is avaible every 2 hours. More infor visit
The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 5.5 acres located within Washington Park in the west hills of Portland, Oregon, USA.
The garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tono beginning in 1963, though the garden opened to the public in 1967. In a study conducted by the Journal of Japanese Gardening, it was ranked first out of 300 public Japanese gardens outside of Japan and considered to be one of the most authentic.
According to traditional design, the garden combines three elements which represent the earth: stone represents mountains and islands for strength and support, water is the center and represents purity, and plants grace it with texture, color and growth.
View the website included in this tip for official garden and visitor information.
The pictures for this Travel Tip were taken on August 25th, 2007 - over this travelers birthday weekend. It was a pleasure to stroll the five major sub-areas which compose Portland’s Japanese garden and among the highlights of this experience are the changing views, including picturesque panoramas of Portland’s city center.
Exploration of this garden is for everyone and can serve as a cheerful stopping point on a busy sightseeing agenda in Portland. In addition to these gardens, Washington Park also boasts some of Portland’s favorite destinations, such as: Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, Oregon Vietnam Memorial, Hoyt Arboretum, and the acclaimed International Rose Test Garden.
The Portland Japanese garden receives a great recommendation, for cultural exposure, beauty, and calming environs with something to cause everyone to smile.
Backpacker Alert: Washington Park including the Japanese Garden is the perfect low-cost offering for budget travelers. Even if the PJG $8 admission is out of budget, don’t miss the other exploits of Washington Park, with several low or no-cost travel and entertainment options.
Tucked away above the International Rose Test Garden- and a painful walk for me considering we'd summited Hood the following day- is the strikingly beautiful Japanese Garden. We paid the $8 admission fee and entered the tranquil and zen like garden.
The Japanese Garden encompasses 5 acres and contains 5 separate garden styles, including the sand and stone gardens the ceremonial teahouse and pavilion where weddings and special events are held. You receive a map at the admission booth which shows where each garden is located and gives a brief description of what you will find in the garden as well as its significance.
The Japanese Garden Society, which owns and operates the garden, does an excellent job in making it a place of tranquility. Eating, drinking, talking on cell phones and smoking are prohibited. The society also has a strict policy on using photographs taken in the gardens and posting them on the web. So if you want to copy and use my photos for any reason, which I can't imagine since they're not that great, be sure to use the language in the photo caption.
The garden path meanders up and down through the various "scenes". The pavilion can be found near the top, and boasts an incredible view of Mount Hood.
The Japenese Garden in Portland is known to be very authentic..one of the most authentic outside of Japan! Its pretty good sized, about 5 acres. You could easily pop in and walk around for 30 minutes..but it is a place best enjoyed slowly and calmly. A perfect place for contemplation, fresh air and rejuvination! It can be a little crowded on weekends, especially if the weather is good. I visited the other day, when the weather was overcast with a light sprinkling of rain...I only saw 4-5 other people and was able to realy enjoy the beauty! Please respect the rules...no smoking, no food/drink, no pets and NO CELL PHONES..so that others may enjoy the gardens!
I am so thankful that I was child free when I came to visit here. I don't think I would have been able to enjoy these wonderful gardens if Patrick had come here. It's not really a kid friendly activity in my opinion. The Japanese Gardens are a great place to stroll along and get lost in your thoughts. It takes most people a little less than an hour to tour the entire garden, but if you are like me and you snap picture of just about everything, it's take you a bit longer. The gardens are open year round, 7 days a week. The hours of operation vary according to the season but are almost always open by 10:00 AM, except on Mondays when they open at noon. Admission to the gardens is $8.00 for and adult and $5.25 for children age 6 and older, younger children are free. Tours are usually offered at 10:45, 1:00 and 2:30, the Monday scheule is different with the first tour starting at 1:00. There are 5 distinct area of the garden, The Tea Gardens, The Flat Garden, The Strolling Pond Garden, The Sand and Stone Garden and The Natural Garden. Each one is extremely beautiful and sure to be pleasing to the eyes.
Located within Washington Park is this beautiful garden. This garden is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, and I can see why.
Boosting some of the best views of Portland and Mt. Hood these gardens are surrounded by tall evergreen trees with lush greenery. There is also a waterfall with koi in the pond, several smaller ponds, an authentic Japanese home, traditional tea house, and the stone gardens.
The visit can take as much as 2 hours, as little as 45 min.
The entrance price is $8.00 per adult. There is a reduced price for for children/students/seniors, but I didn't notice that price.
I went to the Japanese Gardens. They were very nice and quite worth seeing. But at $8 each to get in for something that was at most 45 minutes I don't think I'll be going back. That said everyone should spend one time here. Its quite peaceful and quiet. A good time to just spend with your thoughts or someone special.
The Japanes Garden is a lovely place to visit, It is very peaceful and serene. If you have never been before, take a guided tour, it is definitely worth it. I wandered around for several hours before I visited the Rose Garden, which is just down the hill a bit.
There are several different types of gardens, including a strolling garden and a tea garden. The landscapes are lush, and must do well in the rainy Portland weather. There are many small ponds, and even a few waterfalls.
There is an admission fee.
The Japanese Gardens are more beautiful than any photo can capture. When you are there you forget you are sitting above Portland and feel as though you have been transported into Japan.
The minute you walk through the main gates you feel calmer, you speak quieter and you walk slower. There are several pathways throughout the gardens and most are non directional. After visiting a couple of times you will find a direction that you enjoy best.
There are some pathways that are wide and easily acceptable for a wheelchair but the majority of the walkways are best visited without the help of a chair or walker. Of course I do not use either so I may be off the mark here.
There are some walkways that are very narrow and other that are steep so watch your footing. Fortunately someone was thinking and there are several opportunities to sit and take in the scenery along all the paths if your legs get tired.
If bringing children, PLEASE don’t let them run. This really is a great place to just reflect and it’s hard to do so when you have kids running back and forth past you.
During the summer months (until September) the tea house opens and you can see the traditional tea ceremony on the third Saturday of each month. It is wonderful to view and you can ask questions. For more information on the demonstration times please visit the website link below.
There are several types of gardens throughout. You will see sand and stone, pond with Koi, natural with trees and shrubs and others. I like the natural settings but also enjoy sitting at the large sand and stone garden. Although the Japanese Gardens don’t take up city blocks, there is a lot to see in the small patch that sits in the NW Hills.
For those looking for a special trinket there is a small gift shop located to the right after you enter the Gardens. However you can also order some items off their website.
Click HERE for a few photos I took while visiting the Japanese Gardens.
The Japanese Garden in Washington Park is an oasis of peace - at least if you wear earplugs. It's hard not to hear the announcements from the train station or cars along the adjacent road. However, the Japanese Garden itself, supposedly the most authentic outside of Japan, manage to instill relaxation throughout its five formal gardens.
My favorite was the Zen-inspired Sand and Stone Garden - no plants, just undulating gravel and upright rocks. Part of me wanted to jump in and mess up the carefully raked "waves" of sand, but another part - the one that won - sat calmly and peacefully.
Adult admission: $6.50. Look for a dollar-off coupon on the back of their brochure.