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At the Garden with Pico Iyer

Bestselling author Pico Iyer visited Portland Japanese Garden on May 24th / Photo by Jonathan Ley

Bestselling author Pico Iyer visited Portland Japanese Garden on May 24 for an afternoon of conversation with Curator Emerita Diane Durston about his new book, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells. Prior to the sold-out event, he took some time to absorb the Garden in its May glory and shared his impressions with his host, Training Center director Kristin Faurest.

“I was last in this garden 19 years ago. It’s still so penetrating. Whatever emotions Japan brings out in me, I felt here – it’s the collected stillness that you can feel.”


“The light is different here from Japan, but still I felt as if I’d come home. When I came here to visit, it was the first day in 10 months that I wasn’t missing Japan. I don’t think there can be a place like this anywhere in the world outside of Japan.”


“People need gardens to sustain their souls, to have time to reflect. Especially in a Japanese garden, it’s an invitation to stand still, to collectedness and composure, to sit and look and pay attention.”

“The garden is an expression of the contemplative temperament. People in Japan carry themselves with that candle of quietness inside. The fewer words used to express something, the deeper the emotion. It’s a culture that speaks in silence.”

The Garden+ Lecture Series puts the Japanese garden tradition in new light by connecting it to topics like nature, technology, health, architecture, culture, design, spirituality, and society. Garden+ brings designers, authors, and practitioners to share resonant ideas, thought-provoking research, and vibrant creative work.