#Portland: The Japanese Garden

Peace, serenity, and harmony weave themselves throughout Portland’s Japanese Garden

“This is a place to discard worldly thoughts and concerns and see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe.”

Brett and I knew that no stay in Portland would be complete without a visit to the Japanese Garden, located in Washington Park in the west hills. The Garden overlooks the city and yet is a world away, transporting visitors to a soothing location where they can relax, unwind, meditate, and realize a sense of peace and harmony no matter the season or the weather. The tranquility of the Garden envelops you the moment you enter, and everyone who enters seems to slow down in order to be able take it in.

There’s an leisurely climb from the ticket office through stands of Douglas fir to the garden’s entrance gate.
Seating is placed throughout the garden so that visitors can not only stop to rest but reflect on the views as well.
Heavenly Falls is one part of the double-level Strolling Pond Garden. As in all Japanese gardens, although everything appears to be completely natural, each part of the setting and each stone and plant was carefully designed and placed for maximum effect.

Designed in 1963, each section of the garden incorporates the three main elements of Japanese garden design: stones, water, and plants with stones forming the bones of the landscapes, water the giving the garden its life force, and plants providing the fabric of the four seasons. The Portland Japanese Garden contains eight distinct garden styles ranging from a traditional tea house to a raked rock garden to meandering streams and a spectacular view overlooking the city. Each garden design is asymmetrical, and presents an idealized form of nature within human scale so that visitors feel a part of nature versus overwhelmed by it. Seating is placed throughout the garden so that visitors can stop to reflect on different views and landscapes as they rest.

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The cost to enter the garden is $18.95 per person for adults, $16.25 for seniors aged 65 or older, students are $15.25 and children $13.25. Although the price seems rather steep, it is very easy to lose track of time once inside – Brett and I easily spent more than two hours wandering through the garden, often stopping to sit for a while to take it all in. The Garden also has two gift shops and a restaurant, and visitors are allowed entrance into the art exhibits that are shown in the Pavilion Gallery. The Garden has a parking lot at the bottom of the hill but Brett and I rode public transportation to the Oregon Zoo and then took the free shuttle over from there.

All the roses throughout the test garden are in bloom in June, Portland’s Rose Festival month, and the garden is full of sensational aromas.

Located at the bottom of the hill, and across the parking lot from the Japanese Garden is the International Rose Test Garden, containing over 10,000 rose plants of over 650 different varieties. Rose cultivars are sent to the garden from all over the world to be evaluated. It is the oldest rose test garden in the United States, and roses are in bloom from April through October. Admission to the garden is free.

My favorite roses are always the multicolored ones.
Both Brett and I named this rose our favorite, the Coretta Scott King, a grand floribunda.

10 thoughts on “#Portland: The Japanese Garden

  1. I spent a wonderful day with friends there last June. Such a wonderful place to visit! I was iffy on spending the money on the Japanese Garden, but my friend who lives in Portland told us that is considered the best Japanese garden outside of Japan. I’m so glad I listened to her!


    1. I have been to lots of Japanese gardens and this one really does have it all. The garden’s architect is quite famous in Japan (wish I could remember his name). I loved how everyone (well almost everyone) got quiet when they stepped through the gate – it was so peaceful. It really is a place that should not be missed when visiting Portland (and more so if you live here!).

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  2. I actually live in the county where Coretta Scott King was born, although I live in the southern tip of Perry County, so nowhere close to where she was born.


    1. The Coretta Scott King rose was hands down the most beautiful one there, in both Brett’s and my opinion. I looked it up online when I got home and the pictures showed roses with more white in them, but the deep red with the small amount of white that we saw at the garden was far more luxurious and beautiful in our opinion.

      I wonder if anyone in your county is growing the rose named for her?


  3. Heavenly Falls – perfect name. I love the roses. Will show them to my mother tomorrow. Wish she were healthy enough to travel to see them


    1. My mom loved roses, and the Rose Garden was always her favorite place to visit in Portland. It’s almost overwhelming for me because there are so many varieties and colors, and the scents are amazing.


    1. We visited a couple of times when we lived here, but I know realize it wasn’t enough. It’s a very special place . . . .


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