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Japan Institute Donates Gift of Friendship to Johannesburg Botanical Garden

Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute CEO Steve Bloom using a shovel to put soil over a tree that was donated to Johannesburg Botanical Garden.
Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute CEO Steve Bloom participating in the planting of a tree at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. Photo by The City of Johannesburg.

Photos of the event will be shared when available.

PORTLAND, Oregon, U.S. & JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – December 5 – On December 5th, Japan Institute, a global cultural initiative and sibling organization of Portland Japanese Garden, itself an American nonprofit cultural institution and public garden based in Portland, Oregon, U.S., had the distinct honor of making an addition to the stunning grounds of the Johannesburg Botanical Garden: a Celtis africana.

This gift of a Celtis africana commemorates the friendship between Portland Japanese Garden and the Johannesburg Botanical Garden, two organizations separated by geographical distance but closely linked by a common cause to provide their community and visitors a place of great natural beauty. Both cultural landmarks are projects borne in the 1960s, taking overdeveloped and scarred landscapes and transforming them into immaculate examples of horticultural art. Importantly, they recognize and advocate the peace that is inspired through a garden – if space is provided for one to achieve inner peace, it can be something they express and extend to others. The planting of this tree is an expression of hope and a message of peace that transcends any individual person’s lifetime. The hope is that visitors to the Johannesburg Botanical Garden will come upon this tree and reflect on the ideals of peace and how they may carry it forward in their communities and the world around them.

In an update later written by Getrude Mamabolo of the City of Johannesburg, it was noted that Member of Mayoral Committee for Community Development Cllr Lubabalo Magwentshu shared:

“As we gather for this significant occasion today, may this tree taking root in our African soil symbolize the enduring spirit of peace and cooperation between nations. May these joint ventures inspire creativity, build bridges, and leave an indelible mark on our shared journey toward a more peaceful and interconnected world.”

Mamabolo also reported that Portland Japanese Garden Board of Trustees President Drake Snodgrass shared:

“As we plant this Celtis africana, I envision a future where it blossoms into a magnificent symbol of our fruitful partnership. In 20 years, may this tree stand tall, reflecting not only the growth of nature but also the enduring strength of the bond between our communities,” said Snodgrass.


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


Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II. A hallmark in the City of Portland and the state of Oregon, 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 among the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in the world.  


Japan Institute was established in 2022 as a global cultural initiative of Portland Japanese Garden. This sibling organization is the programmatic arm of Portland Japanese Garden, allowing us to share and expand our cultural programs more broadly around the world, deepen international partnerships, and continue to engage diverse people in shared experiences and conversations about peace, beauty, and connection of nature. Japan Institute consists of three centers: Global Center for Culture and Art, International Exchange Forum, and International Japanese Garden Training Center. 

Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute share the mission: 

Inspiring Harmony & Peace