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The Japan Institute: Updates on the Road Ahead

One of the buildings set to be renovated on the new Japan Institute campus. Photo by Michael Anderson

Portland Japanese Garden is more than 12 acres in Washington Park. It is also an expression of harmony and peace and the realization of a dream to discover the ties that bind us. The spirit of collaboration and community that motivated the Garden’s design in 1963 now guides our plans for the Japan Institute. The Japan Institute will allow us to offer more shared experiences in Japanese culture, art, and connection to nature.

Portland Japanese Garden is in the process of acquiring a campus – located just three miles away from the Garden in nearby Forest Park – as the Japan Institute headquarters to accommodate expanded programming. Previously owned by the Salvation Army, the property served as a center for healing for more than 100 years. We strive to honor this legacy with the continuation of service to others.

Historic aerial photograph of the campus in Forest Park where the Japan Institute will be located.

The purchase should be completed by early spring 2022 and we hope to move into permitting and construction shortly thereafter. The property is comprised of four buildings built between 1914-1965 on 3.65 acres of secluded, forested land. Portland Japanese Garden has retained landscape architects, Walker Macy, to reimagine this campus for the Japan Institute. Long-time members will recall that Walker Macy collaborated with Kengo Kuma to bring the Cultural Crossing expansion to life in 2017.

Once completed, the space will accommodate a host of new and expanded programs. This includes providing outdoor classrooms for garden workshops, housing artists-in-residence, and hosting culinary events that make use of a full-service kitchen. Accounting for supply-chain slowdowns, the hope is to welcome our staff and visitors into the new facilities in the summer of 2024.

Kengo Kuma Returns to Design the ‘Jewel’ of New Campus

Portland Japanese Garden is delighted to announce that Kengo Kuma, designer of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021, will redesign the interior of one of the buildings at the new Japan Institute campus. As you may recall, Kuma designed the award-winning Cultural Crossing expansion for Portland Japanese Garden in 2017 which marked his first public project in North America. For this next endeavor, Kuma and his team will partner with Portland-based Bullseye Glass to work in art glass for the first time in his illustrious career.

Kengo Kuma celebrating the opening of the Cultural Village in 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

Together, Kuma and Bullseye will transform what is currently an aging chapel into an auditorium and performance center. “Kuma-san has been such a good friend to Portland Japanese Garden” says CEO Steve Bloom. “His designs masterfully intersect nature and architecture which both complement and showcase our programming. We are thrilled to welcome him and his talented team back to create the ‘jewel’ of the new Japan Institute campus!”