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Forest of Dreams: Fostering Grassroots Cultural Exchange

A critical component of Portland Japanese Garden’s mission is to promote the work and experience of peace. This mission is at the heart of the Garden’s programming and activities and has been a driving force since our inception: to foster understanding and friendship between cultures.

Our current exhibition, Forest of Dreams, has taken on that mission in full, promoting cultural understanding and peace at both an official level and grassroots level.

The exhibition helps commemorate the 60th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Portland and Sapporo (the capital of Hokkaido, Japan), a relationship that was instrumental in the establishment of the Garden. Mayors of both cities, Mr. Ted Wheeler of Portland and Mr. Katsuhiro Akimoto of Sapporo, were in attendance to celebrate the opening of this groundbreaking exhibition on June 7.

During the opening weekend, native peoples from both continents–the Ainu of northern Japan and Native Americans of the Columbia River Basin–came together to share their songs, dances, and cultural and artistic practices in public events at the Garden. This stimulating exchange culminated in a daytrip of our visiting guests from Hokkaido to the headquarters of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. The visit was led by tribal member and Language and Cultural Specialist, Bobby Mercier. The day included sharing food and festivities, a visit to a language school teaching Chinook Wawa (the trade language of regional tribes), and a private tour of the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center.

Both at an official level and in the important work of people-to-people diplomacy, Portland Japanese Garden will continue helping to bring peoples, ideas, and cultures together for mutual appreciation and understanding.

The exhibition continues through July 21.