2022 was an incredible year for Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute. Through the support of our community, we continued to exist as a space to provide respite from the challenges of our busy, modern lives: a place that allows one to be inspired by harmony & peace. We are grateful for the approximately 400,000 vistors we welcomed at the Garden in 2022.
Take a look below at all the exciting events, gatherings, and exhibitions that took place not only here in Portland, but around the world. Click here to see a selection of some of our best media coverage in 2022.
After having to postpone and outright cancel many of our events due to the pandemic, we were delighted to begin the year with an in-person gathering. Our O-Shogatsu celebration included the exciting shishi-mai, or lion dance, and presentations of tea ceremony, and koto music.
Kengo Kuma Retained
Portland Japanese Garden also started off the new year by announcing 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 our Japan Institute campus. Kuma and his team are partnering with Portland-based Bullseye Glass to work in art glass for the first time in his illustrious career to transform what is currently an aging chapel into an auditorium and performance center.
Large Tree Falls in the Natural Garden
Prior to the December holidays, a Douglas fir that had grown at least 80 feet in height succumbed to the harsh winter weather that fell upon the Portland metro area. A confluence of saturated ground from weeks of persistent precipitation and strong winds unmoored this friendly giant from its footing and all of its massive frame crashed to the ground. Its untimely descent caused temporary closure of the Natural Garden and otherwise disrupted its environs. In January, Garden staff worked with arborists to remove the tree before repairing the stone wall and path.
Fashion and Fantasy: The Art of Netsuke Carvings
Drawing on a gift from The Netsuke Collection of James R. Coonan, Denise C. Bates and Lurline C. Menzies, the Garden opened Fashion and Fantasy: The Art of Netsuke Carvings in February. The exhibition presented a glimpse into this little-known art form from pre-modern Japan. Each netsuke was highly detailed, imaginatively depicting people and animals from everyday life as well as folktales and fables.
The Art of Vitality: Peter Shinbach Bamboo Art Collection
The Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery hosted Art of Vitality, an exhibition of Portland resident, Peter Shinbach’s fine art bamboo collection. Showcasing his newest acquisitions, this latest exhibition included work by some of the most revered names in Japanese bamboo art: Maeda Chikubosai I, Kibe Seiho, and Honda Syoryu.
Ambassador Tomita Visits Portland Japanese Garden
On March 24, Portland Japanese Garden had the profound honor of receiving His Excellency, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America, Koji Tomita. Ambassador Tomita was greeted by Chief Curator and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center Sada Uchiyama, Garden Curator Hugo Torii, and Japanese Liaison Manager Natsuko Takahashi, as well as Board President Drake Snodgrass and Board Vice President Cal Tanabe.
Updated Mission: Inspiring Harmony & Peace
On the heels of the pandemic, upon the launch of Japan Institute, and on the verge of our 60th anniversary in 2023, we took time to re-evaluate our mission. The results of this important soul-searching was ﬁrst the realization that Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute could share a mission, and second, that mission could be distilled down to four simple, but powerful words: Inspiring Harmony and Peace.
Japan Institute Celebrates Purchase of New Campus Property
On April 21, Portland Japanese Garden celebrated the acquisition of a property that will house its new sibling organization, the Japan Institute. Speakers at this event included U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, Oregon Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, Consul General of Japan in Portland Masaki Shiga, Salvation Army Major Bob Lloyd, and Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom.
Robert Zagunis bids farewell as Board of Trustees President
In April’s issue of the The Garden Path, former Board of Trustees President Robert Zagunis penned a letter to Portland Japanese Garden’s members looking back at his time leading the Board and looking ahead to the future. Zagunis noted, “I am also honored to be among the stewards who helped the Garden not only navigate this misfortune but continue its growth. When I became President in 2019, I wrote that the Garden’s future would be different from its past, but bright and exciting nonetheless. The sentiment remains.” Zagunis and his wife Deborah are still very active as leaders of Portland Japanese Garden, having made a generous contribution towards the Japan Institute to help fund its peace programming in Japan, the United Kingdom, and in four more cities over the next two years.
Behind the PSU Kabuki Curtain
Attendees watched Portland State University prepare for its mainstage kabuki production of The Sardine Seller’s Net of Love at Lincoln Performance Hall. Professor Laurence Kominz explained the production as a student actor applied stage makeup and got dressed in costume by Toshimi Tanaka, a professional kimono dresser.
Mado, Ikebana Display Presented by Saga Goryu School North American Chapter
The Saga Goryu North America Chapter offered an ikebana installation for Hana Matsuri called Mado 窓 (Window) at Portland Japanese Garden from April 6th through 9, 2022.
Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art
Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art, explored how beloved plants such as irises, wisteria, azaleas, and rhododendrons voyaged across an ocean to establish new roots in the United States. The exhibition also showcased historical artifacts that revealed the story of Japanese flora and the people who shared them with the world.
Kodomo no Hi
Kodomo no Hi returned to the Garden for the first time in two years! Kodomo no Hi, also called Children’s Day, is celebrated each year in Japan on May 5 to celebrate the growth and good fortune of children. Events included taiko drumming, a scavenger hunt, and take-home craft activities.
Annual Membership Meeting and Reception
Back in person since the start of the pandemic, Garden members gathered to hear Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom’s annual overview and plans for the Garden’s future. Board Members were introduced updates on Japan Institute were provided.
Drake Snodgrass Assumes Mantle of Board of Trustees President
In June’s issue of The Garden Path, newly elected Board of Trustees President Drake Snodgrass wrote a letter to members. Snodgrass noted that supporting Portland Japanese Garden is a family tradition, writing, “Take a walk with me and imagine standing under the Wisteria Arbor that marks the entrance to the Strolling Pond Garden. Now look to the right at the pergola post in front of you. There is a wisteria planted at the base of the post. My dad planted that wisteria. I have a photo from an article in The Oregonian showing him planting it 57 years ago. He had a big smile on his face!”
Black Men’s Wellness Holds Event at Portland Japanese Garden on Juneteenth
Portland Japanese Garden was honored to be among the locations for “Wellness Week 2022,” a series of mid-June events organized by Black Men’s Wellness, a Portland-based group that offers “culturally specific, trauma-informed workshops [that] engage African-American men of all ages to identify and discuss health concerns they are currently experiencing and/or are susceptible to.”
Portland Japanese Garden Co-Hosts APGA Annual Conference
Portland Japanese Garden was honored to be among the host gardens for 2022’s annual conference of the American Public Garden Association (APGA), titled “CommUNITY of Gardens.” From June 19th through June 24th, professionals representing 600 organizations from all 50 states and 20 nations convened at Hilton Downtown Portland to highlight how public gardens “ignite connection, protection, and change.” A highlight included a keynote speech by Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom about the power of vision, and how it can bring about transformational change.
Greater Portland Iris Society Show
The Greater Portland Iris Society returned to the Garden after many years to present a special, judged show of two varieties of late season irises, iris ensata (Japanese iris) and spuria. Both individual blooms and floral arrangements were judged by officials affiliated with the American Iris Society.
Representatives from Inhotim Brazil Visit the Garden
In June, the Garden hosted three representatives from Inhotim, a contemporary art museum and botanical garden in Brazil, as part of their visit to Portland for the American Public Gardens Association’s annual conference in June. The visit was an opportunity to learn more about each other in preparation for our upcoming Peace Symposium in São Paulo, currently scheduled for 2024.
Japanese Iris Expert Lecture
Chad Harris from the Greater Portland Iris Society, a Master Judge with the American Iris Society, spoke about Iris ensata, also known as Japanese iris or hanashobu in Japanese. As the owner of Mt. Pleasant Iris Farms, he has been growing many different species of irises in southwest Washington for 40 years.
Renowned Expert and Special Guest from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gives Lecture in Portland
On July 31, the Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden and Portland Art Museum co-presented a lecture by Richard Deverell, Director of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. Speaking in front of a full house at Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium, Deverell spoke to how Kew, one of the largest and most acclaimed gardens in the world, has transformed itself since he was hired as Director in 2012 in light of a changing planet.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown Speaks at TAWA PDX 2022
Portland Japanese Garden and Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA partnered to bring the program, The Alliance Working in America: Forum for Reimagining the Oregon-Japan Alliance to Portland, Oregon. This conference – TAWA PDX 2022 – explored the building blocks of the bilateral alliance through the lens of creative enterprise, climate, and sustainability industries. Among the highlights of the day was an address from Oregon Governor Kate Brown.
Behind the Shoji Artisan Marketplace
Behind the Shoji is Portland Japanese Garden’s annual show and sale of Japanese and Japanese-inspired wares including textiles, prints, clothing, ceramics, home décor, and much more. Located behind the shoji (sliding screens) of the Pavilion Gallery, visitors perused a variety of curated items often unavailable short of a visit to Japan itself.
Intimate Landscapes: Masterpieces from the Anderson Collection
Intimate Landscapes: Masterpieces from the Anderson Collection, an exhibition in the Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery that ran from July through September, featured a selection of exquisitely crafted ceramic art by Living National Treasures and other luminous masters from the renowned collection of Dr. Richard Anderson, a longtime member and volunteer at Portland Japanese Garden.
Portland Japanese Garden’s Chief Curator Receives High Honor by Japanese Government
On August 4th, 2022, it was announced that Sadafumi (Sada) Uchiyama, Chief Curator of Portland Japanese Garden has been awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation from the Foreign Ministry of Japan. This award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Japanese government, is given to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in international fields, and acknowledges their contribution of friendship between Japan and other countries.
Japan Institute’s Inaugural Artist-in-Residence Program Begins
In 2021, Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden announced that the internationally-acclaimed Sasaki had been selected as the organization’s very first artist-in-residence. In August of 2022, Sasaki made the first of her two separate journeys east from her home base of Kanazawa, Japan. Working with our gardeners, Sasaki collected Portland Japanese Garden’s plant life for a 2023 exhibition.
Kenji Ide: A Poem of Perception
In September, Portland Japanese Garden opened a new art exhibition in its Calvin and Mayho Tanabe Gallery, a space within the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center in the Garden’s Cultural Village. In Kenji Ide’s installation, A Poem of Perception, the Kanagawa-based artist has created a constellation of found objects and small-scale sculptures that encourage viewers to heighten their sensitivity to their own experience of time, place, and imagination.
Chief Curator Recognized by American Society of Landscape Architects
The Oregon Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) announced that Portland Japanese Garden Chief Curator and International Japanese Garden Training Center Director Sadafumi (Sada) Uchiyama will be among those honored in their ASLA Oregon Recognition Awards program. This program “celebrates the spirit of the landscape architecture profession in Oregon by recognizing people and organizations for their outstanding service to the profession, design excellence, community leadership, and careful stewardship.”
Japan Institute Presents Peace Lanterns to Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo
In September, the Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden presented exact replicas of the Peace Lantern to the cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo ahead of the Japan Institute’s Peace Symposium, “Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature” in Tokyo.
Japan Institute Holds Inaugural Peace Symposium in Tokyo
On September 21, 2022, the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden held its inaugural Peace Symposium, “Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature” in Tokyo, Japan. Hosted by the International House of Japan, the symposium explored how public spaces can make transformative social impacts, using Portland Japanese Garden as a case study. Among the highlights of the day were remarks from Her Imperial Highness, Princess Tsuguko.
Ambassador Emmanuel Welcomes Japan Institute to Home for Reception
After the Symposium, a reception was hosted at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and Amy Rule. “It was such an eclectic range of people representing so many different professions, it was just amazing,” shared Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art, and Education, Aki Nakanishi. “Everyone was ecstatic to gather not only because they were meeting people they might not normally interact with, but also because it was first in-person social function in several years for many of the guests. Several attendees, including the former ambassadors, were impressed that a Japanese garden could provide such a dynamic cultural platform that allows for these kinds of gatherings to take place.”
Portland Japanese Garden CEO Given Kaneko Kentaro Award
In September Steve Bloom, Chief Executive Officer of Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute, was awarded the Kaneko Kentaro Award. The honor, referred to as the Kaneko Award, was established by the America-Japan Society in 2017 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of its founding. This award has been bestowed upon Bloom in recognition of his longstanding contributions to grassroots exchanges between Japan and the United States.
Expert on Japanese Culture Compares and Contrasts British and Japanese Royal Families
On September 7, the Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden hosted a lecture from Jason James, Director General of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in London, England. One of the United Kingdom’s foremost experts of Japanese culture and its unique relationship with the West, James offered intriguing insight into the rich history of the bond between the royal families of both Japan and the U.K.
Ikebana International Celebrates the Chrysanthemum
Ikebana International (Portland Chapter 47) celebrated the chrysanthemum in a special two-day-only exhibition at the Garden. Ikebana International Chrysanthemum show was first celebrated Kiku Matsuri at Portland Japanese Garden in 1983. Local ikebana artists from various schools, or styles, created arrangements featuring chrysanthemums, known as kiku in Japanese.
Moonviewing, or O-Tsukimi in Japanese, is the custom of gazing at the full moon and enjoying its sacred beauty. Portland Japanese Garden scheduled this beloved annual tradition to coincide with the harvest moon. In celebration of Moonviewing, the raked gravel in the Flat Garden is designed in a special, once-a-year checkerboard raking pattern; the alternating squares of white river gravel cast shadows in the moonlight.
Garden of Resonance: The Art of Jun Kaneko
October began with the opening of our final art exhibition of 2022, Garden of Resonance: The Art of Jun Kaneko. Open through February 2023, the exhibition showcases works spanning the internationally acclaimed Jun Kaneko’s career ranging from large, outdoor installations to his earlier paintings and glasswork.
Garden Selected to Receive Significant Cultural Property
In October we shared that Portland Japanese Garden has been selected as the recipient of a significant cultural property from Japan – a castle gate originally built at the turn of the 17th century just a few years before the beginning of Japan’s Edo Period (1603-1868). The Zeze Castle Korai Gate by Tokugawa Ieyasu, or “Zeze Gate” for short, once stood as the southern-most entrance to Japan’s Zeze Castle in Ōtsu. In 2023, the gate will be installed at the start of the hill in the Entry Garden, replacing the Antique Gate which has stood there since the 1970s.
Night of 1000 Cranes
Janet and John Jay hosted Night of A Thousand Cranes, an exclusive evening at Portland Japanese Garden celebrating the organization’s leadership donors who contribute $5,000 or more annually. The event posthumously honored Ron Herman, acclaimed landscape architect, major influencer in the field of Japanese gardens, and former member of the International Advisory Board.
Distinguished Historian and Landscape Architect Discusses 20th Century Japanese Garden Design
Marc Treib, a prolific critic, author, and historian of architecture and landscape architecture explored what influenced 20th-century garden designs in Japan in a lecture inspired by his most recent book, “Thinking a Modern Landscape Architecture, West & East: Christopher Tunnard, Sutemi Horiguchi.”
Sogetsu Portland Fall Show
In October, Portland Japanese Garden hosted the Sogetsu Portland Fall Show. The Sogetsu School of Ikebana believes ikebana can be practiced anytime, anywhere, by anyone. Local artists from Sogetsu Portland Branch created a wide range of styles from basic to abstract which use objects of sculptural intent and character.
Portland Japanese Garden’s Curator Emerita Bestowed High Honor By Japanese Government
On November 3, 2022, it was announced that the Government of Japan has awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays to Diane Durston, Curator Emerita of Portland Japanese Garden. The Consular Office of Japan in Portland shared that Durston was chosen to be among the recipients of the Japanese government’s 2022 Autumn Commendations “in recognition of her contributions to the introduction of Japanese culture in the United States, and to the promotion of mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.”
LAIKA brings Kubo and Coraline for Garden Visit
In November during peak fall colors, LAIKA, an award-winning stop-motion animation studio based in the Portland area, staged a photo shoot in our Garden spaces. This photo shoot, featuring beloved characters from Kubo and the Two Strings and Coraline, was under heavy supervision by Garden employees and involved a bit of photo editing magic. Human feet are not allowed on the moss at all times.
Trail Blazers Icon Bill Walton Visits the Garden
On November 22, Portland Japanese Garden had the pleasure of receiving NBA Hall of Famer, Bill Walton. Walton led the Portland Trail Blazers to a championship in 1977, was a key contributor to the Boston Celtics’ 1986 championship, and has been named to both the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and 75th Anniversary Team. Wearing a Blazers hoodie that was decorated with tie-dye accents, Walton took time to enjoy our historic garden spaces. The basketball legend remarked how beautiful the Garden was and mentioned he had visited back when he was still playing.
2022 Peter Freedman Memorial Oregon Go Championship
Taking place in the Yanai Classroom in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center at Portland Japanese Garden, the 2022 Peter Freedman Memorial Oregon Go Championship saw 32 players square off. The tournament was complemented by a presentation on the 5,000-year-old game by Stewart Towle of Portland Go Club.
Japan Institute Holds Second Peace Symposium in London
On December 6, 2022, Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden held its second Peace Symposium, “Peacemaking at the Intersection of Culture, Art, and Nature” in London, England. Held in Guildhall, the symposium featured leaders from numerous cultural, intellectual, and diplomatic fields, who came together to discuss the evolving role of public spaces as the platform for peacebuilding and community engagement. Among the highlights of the day were remarks from Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Nobel Peace Center Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad. More about this auspicious day will be shared in a forthcoming issue of The Garden Path.
Japan Institute Presents Peace Lantern to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
On December 8th, Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden presented an exact replica of the Peace Lantern to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “Receiving this important symbol of peace is a source of great pride for all of us at RBG Kew,” said Kew Director Richard Deverell. “We have always sought to leverage the power of nature and our stunning living collection to make a positive impact in our shared world. The lantern will be a beautiful and important addition to the Japanese Landscape here at Kew Gardens and we hope that visitors will come from far and wide to enjoy it and learn about its important meaning.”
Japan Institute Hosted by U.S. Embassy in London for Reception
Ahead of its second Peace Symposium, a reception was hosted by the U.S. Embassy in London. Attendees heard words from Deputy Chief of Mission, Matthew Palmer, Nobel Peace Center Executive Director Kjersti Fløgstad, and James Chau, Host of The China Current and WHO Goodwill Ambassador. Chau additionally served as a speaker and panel moderator at the London Peace Symposium.
Kadomatsu returns to Garden as New Year Approaches
A Japanese custom to welcome the New Year is decorating the front door with kadomatsu, which translates literally to gate pine, implying a guard for the house. These decorations usually come in pairs, sitting on either side of the entrance. Green bamboo, Japanese black pine and plum are the components traditionally used in these New Year’s decorations. The kadomatsu placed this year are in memory of Portland Japanese Garden Trustee, Gwyneth Gamble Booth.