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Portland Japanese Garden Celebrates 65th Anniversary of Sister-City Relationship with Sapporo, Japan in New Art Exhibition

PORTLAND, Ore., United States—March 11, 2024—Beginning on March 16th, Portland Japanese Garden will debut its first new art exhibition of 2024. Titled Vision of Place, this show running through June 10th, will feature stunning photography from Portland’s sister city of Sapporo and the prefecture it is the capital of: Hokkaido.

In 1959, Portland and Sapporo entered one of the earliest and most meaningful sister city relationships between the U.S. and Japan in the aftermath of World War II. Sapporo and its people were highly instrumental in the founding of Portland Japanese Garden. Their generosity can be seen throughout the Garden, most notably through our impressive 18-foot and two-ton Sapporo Pagoda Lantern (image included in assets below).

Vision of Place will feature two different exhibits that capture the beauty of this part of northern Japan:

Shashin: Photographic Frontiers of Hokkaido

Cherry Blossom Season at Hakodate Goryokaku Castle ruins” 2022. Photo by Hisao Asano.

In our Pavilion Gallery, guests will see work from The North Finder, a Hokkaido-based group of photographers with the mission to “raise the image of Hokkaido through photography and help people to know Hokkaido more deeply.” The work of 23 photographers will present the diversity of natural environments, distinctive seasons, and notable sites of Portland’s sister city from the perspective of the people who live there. This will be the first ever show The North Finder has held in the United States.

Quiet Reflections of Hokkaido Winter: Photography by Sandra Chandler

Abstract photo composite of trees and lake with a texture overlay.
Surrounding Birches, 2023. Photo by Sandra Chandler

Connecting the perspective of Hokkaido with Portland is an exhibition of local artist Sandra Chandler, which is exhibited in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center. Chandler is a passionate photographer and longtime supporter of Portland Japanese Garden, serving as the organization’s Foundation Board Chairperson. Traveling the world using her designer’s eye, Chandler’s photography will showcase the essence of the serene winter landscape of Japan’s northernmost island.

Vision of Place will be on display in the Pavilion Gallery and Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center in Portland Japanese Garden from March 16th to June 10th.

Quick Facts on the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Relationship

A tall stone lantern next to a maple tree in late summer.
The Sapporo Pagoda Lantern, a gift from the City of Sapporo to Portland Japanese Garden in 1964. Photo by Roman Johnston.
  • In the 1950s it was reported by The Oregonian that Portland was considering a sister city relationship with two cities: Sapporo and Shizuoka.
  • In addition to the Sapporo Pagoda Lantern, which has been in our Strolling Pond Garden since 1964, Sapporo commissioned and donated a sculpted water fountain by Oregon artist Don Wilson in 1988 in honor of Portland Japanese Garden’s 25th anniversary. It is next to the Pavilion.
  • The City of Portland has donated a water fountain to Sapporo – a Benson bubbler in the city’s Odori Park near the Sapporo TV Tower.
  • In 2019, Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom joined Mayor Ted Wheeler’s official delegation to Sapporo and presented on behalf of the Garden a hand-crafted replica of our Peace Lantern. It stands today in the Japanese city’s Nakajima Park.
  • More about the sister-city relationship and our Sapporo Pagoda Lantern can be read here.

Visual Assets

Images can be found in this Dropbox folder. Caption and photographer information is included in a document. Please give courtesy to Portland Japanese Garden.

Media Contact

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

About Portland Japanese Garden

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.  

About Japan Institute

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