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The Best Summer Vacation Includes a Visit to Portland Japanese Garden

Visitors take in the koi that swim alongside the Zig-Zag Bridge in Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Jack Jacobson.

PORTLAND, Ore. – April 28, 2023 – There is no better place for summer travelers to visit than Portland Japanese Garden. With the days growing warmer and sun shining longer, the higher elevation of the Garden and its lush and verdant surroundings in a Pacific Northwest forest provide a cool respite to those who journey here. What better place to escape the heat and be present in the moment than the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan itself?

Portland Japanese Garden was founded 60 years ago when Portland civic leaders transformed the abandoned remains of an old zoo into an urban oasis. Opened to the public in 1967, the Garden has helped repair ties between Portland and Japan as well as provide Portlanders and visitors to the area a place to experience inner peace. Not only a world-class garden, Portland Japanese Garden is also North America’s foremost Japanese cultural organization and provides a bevy of programming and events that can help introduce the many gifts of Japan without need for translation.

Two young visitors to Portland Japanese Garden hold wishes on bamboo sticks during a Tanabata festival celebration. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

This summer, Portland Japanese Garden has a wide variety of family-friendly events and offerings, including:

  • Behind the Shoji: July 1 to September 4 | The Garden’s beloved annual summer marketplace, Behind the Shoji is held in our Pavilion Gallery with views of our Flat Garden on one side and a majestic view of Mt. Hood on the other. This marketplace gives visitors the opportunity to purchase Japanese and Japanese-inspired wares that they might not be able to otherwise find short of a trip to Japan itself.
  • Tanabata, The Star Festival: July 2 | The Star Festival, one of Japan’s most cherished holidays, commemorates the one day a year the star-crossed lovers Orihime, the Weaver Star (Vega), and Hikoboshi, the Cowherder Star (Altair) meet in the sky. At Portland Japanese Garden, the holiday is celebrated with storytelling, taiko performances, and the tradition of hanging tanzaku, or wish strips, to bamboo.
  • Cultural Demonstrations & Performances | Multiple times throughout the week, visitors have the opportunity to see many intriguing performances and demonstrations led by expert practitioners. This includes ikebana flower arrangement, bonsai care and maintenance, live koto music, tea ceremony, and more!

Then there is the everlasting beauty of Portland Japanese Garden. Replete with meandering pathways, streams and waterfalls, and contemplative raked gravel gardens, summer is when some of the Garden’s most cherished flowers bloom including stately irises along our Zig-Zag Bridge, itself aside the waters where colorful koi swim.

Behind the Shoji in Portland Japanese Garden’s Pavilion Gallery. Photo by Jonathan Ley.

What People Are Saying:

“The clue is there, on the hillside above NW 23rd Avenue, where Portland Japanese Garden changes the tone. The antithesis of the fractiousness of the summer of 2020, it was set up in 1963 – the happy product of a new twin-city relationship with Sapporo and a desire to reconnect with post-war Japan. Half a century on, it still serves its purpose – its ornamental bridges, koi-carp ponds, sand gardens and maple trees forging a special oasis.” – The Telegraph

“One of the many attractions in Washington Park, the Japanese Garden is one of Portland’s brightest gems…The garden’s elevated location in Portland’s West Hills offers a quiet escape above the city. The Japanese Garden is always lovely, but in the fall it is stunning.” – USA Today

“The immaculately manicured garden is a dream for plant lovers—lush and green in the summer, and a riot of red, orange, and yellow in autumn. Slow your heart rate and breathe in as you stare into the zen rock garden, admire the ponds thick with koi, and wander through pathways lined with bonsai trees. Then recharge with tea at Umami Café, a building with a design inspired by Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple.” – Marie Claire

A young woman takes in the view on the Moon Bridge in Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Roman Johnston.

Hours and Admission:

  • Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm | Wednesday – Monday, closed Tuesdays
  • Adult admission: $21.95
  • Tickets can be purchased at

Visual Assets:

Images can be found in this Dropbox folder. Photographer name is in the file name. Please stylize the credit as “Courtesy of Portland Japanese Garden, photo by [fill in name].”

Media Contact:

Will Lerner | Communications Specialist | (503) 542-9351 |

About Portland Japanese Garden:  

Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization originally founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II. A hallmark in the City of Portland, the Garden was founded on the ideals of peace and mutual understanding between peoples and cultures. Portland Japanese Garden is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and the foremost Japanese cultural organization in North America.