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Garden Updates

Planning a Visit to the Garden? Start here.

Photo by Roman Johnston

The Garden’s expansion has brought with it many new faces and we’re happy to see you! Many visitors coming into our expanded Garden have several thoughtful and interesting questions. Here are some of the top questions that our highly trained staff members at the Tanabe Welcome Center are happily answering:

Photo by Roman Johnston

How long does it take to see the Garden?

We recommend giving yourself two hours to see the Garden. Walk through once to see the different Garden styles, and possibly take a tour. Walk through a second time to really absorb what you’re seeing and appreciate the aesthetic value. The Garden is a place to linger, reflect, and meditate. We encourage you to take your time and enjoy.

Does the cost include Admission to the Rose Garden also?

The Rose Garden is a separate park run by Portland Parks & Recreation that doesn’t require admission. The Portland Japanese Garden is an independently run not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Garden’s operating budget comes from gate admissions, retail sales, membership dues, and donations.

Why do you have a tripod fee?

Photo by Nina Johnson

To keep the Garden an accessible and enjoyable experience for all visitors, we ask everyone to please be considerate when photographing the Garden. There is a $5.00/person charge for using a tripod (for anyone not a Garden Member) because the Garden has a lot of narrow pathways and tripods can take up the space of a person when set up for photos.

Why is there no water flowing down the hill?

Photo by Tyler Quinn

You must have visited on a day when it was not raining. As it rains, water comes off the roof and flows over the courtyard. It is then funneled into a series of swales that have been made into The Entry Garden. Our Garden Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama has beautifully designed The Entry Garden space to look like pockets of nature. We have a series of channels running down the hill that culminate into two major water retention tanks underneath the parking lot that our guests will never see. You will only see water running through the Entry Garden when it’s raining.

Do you have wheelchairs/scooters for rental/loan?
We do not have any wheelchairs or scooters available for guests.

Do you have reciprocal access with any other organization?
During the month of November, we have reciprocal access with Lan Su Chinese Garden for our members. Learn more about member benefits.

Where do we park?

The Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project has eliminated more than a hundred parking spaces near and around the Garden. Therefore, due to limited parking on Kingston Avenue in front of the Garden, we encourage our guests to either take public transportation, use a ride share service, or take the MAX to the Washington Park Zoo Station and ride the Explore Washington Park Shuttle to the Garden. The shuttle arrives approximately every 15 minutes from April-October.

When will the Wildwood Trail spur be reopened?
As of Sept 1, 2017: The Garden is working on building a new path which will lead down from the Wildwood trail, follow the outside of the Garden’s Service road, and ultimately lead down to the sidewalk on SW Kingston Avenue north of the parking lot.
The final completion date is currently pending construction of the final 220 feet which requires specialized skills and handwork to preserve the environmental integrity of the steep hillside.  The Garden remains committed to finishing the new trail as soon as possible.

Can we have our wedding/family event/private event/photo shoot at the Garden?

To protect the Garden’s tranquility, authenticity, and environment, we do not allow rentals for events, weddings, commitment ceremonies, or receptions.

Can I bring guests during Member Only hours?

Photo by Roman Johnston

Beginning with the Dual Membership level, you may designate a guest on your membership. You can add additional guests to any level of membership by paying $20 per guest for the year. Guest designations on your membership are transferable. Learn more here.

Can I make a reservation at the Umami Café?

The Umami Café is a first-come first-served establishment and does not take reservations. Please see our host upon arrival to be seated or added to the wait list. Due to limited seating, the Umami Café can only accommodate parties of 6 or less.

Why aren’t there more signs?

In order to maintain our visitors’ experience, we intentionally have minimal signage and rely on our visitors’ restraint.

There are some flowers, but why aren’t there more?

Japanese gardens are not about showcasing plant material in nature. Rather, all elements live in harmony. Flowers don’t compete with foliage. In the words of our Garden Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama, “Foliage has a roll throughout the year. It gives texture and color in different seasons. Flowers give us seasons, and they give us time. Each has a role. That is the idea of harmony.” During the summer months, we encourage you to visit our neighbor, the International Rose Test Garden, to view their beautiful array of roses.

What am I going to see? What is the Portland Japanese Garden like?

The Moon Bridge surrounded by autumn’s warm colors. / Photo by Roman Johnston

The Portland Japanese Garden was built as a living classroom with eight different garden styles. We see our Garden as a holistic environment. Throughout the year we have ongoing programs and events that are intended to expand people’s understanding of Japanese arts and culture in the setting of the Garden.

Since most of the questions our staff receives are about Washington Park, we encourage you to visit Explore Washington Park’s website before planning your visit to see us.

Have More Questions?

Check our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information about your visit to the Garden.