Garden History

Garden Path Garden History

A Token of Good Will and Friendship: The Story of the Sapporo Pagoda Lantern

Of all the many stone lanterns throughout Portland Japanese Garden, none might be as visually arresting as the Sapporo Pagoda Lantern. No matter which way it is approached, through the Wisteria Arbor, the Camellia Tunnel, or along the slope of Cherry Tree Hill, its towering 18 feet draw the eye immediately. Grand and stately, the lantern’s form is that of a goju-no-to, or five-story pagoda.

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Garden Path Garden History

Letters from Portland Japanese Garden’s Original Designer Demonstrate Cultural Diplomacy was Foundational Element

When Portland Japanese Garden’s landscape was being planned, its original designer, Takuma Tono, determined that it should feature different garden styles that beckon back to different points in his native country’s history. While it was a departure from the norm, it was a brilliant decision that has helped inform millions of visitors on the nuances of Japanese garden design. That Tono would design the Garden this way comports entirely with a man who was a passionate educator.

Garden Path Garden History

High-Ranking Japanese Officials Who Have Affirmed the Authenticity of Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden’s reputation as “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan” is one that has been burnished over the decades by the many dignitaries from Japan who have walked its grounds. To have earned this reputation is something the Garden cherishes and does not take for granted. Photo: © 1978 Randy Wood / The Oregonian. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Garden History

Mt. Hood: Portland’s “Mt. Fuji”

The uninterrupted view of Mt. Hood from Portland Japanese Garden’s East Veranda is a beautiful example of shakkei, or “borrowed scenery,” in which a view of a natural landscape is incorporated into a garden’s design. It is reported that when the Garden’s original designer, Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo Agricultural University, saw Mt. Hood he likened it to one of Japan’s most beloved natural landmarks: Mt. Fuji.

Garden History

Three Years Old and Interned in an American Concentration Camp

In 1942, Portland Japanese Garden Board Member Dr. Calvin Tanabe and his parents were rounded up by the government along with other Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants living in Oregon. They were forced into Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho, one of ten American concentration camps constructed during World War II. It is his first memory. Tanabe sat down with Garden staff to share his story.

Garden History

A “Magnificent Visual Introduction”: The Antique Gate in Portland Japanese Garden

One of the most cherished elements of Portland Japanese Garden is something millions of its visitors have passed through for decades: the Antique Gate. Situated at the start of the hill of the Entry Garden, the Gate is believed to be about 200 years old and is from Sapporo, Portland’s sister city in Japan. Because of the expert care and maintenance it and its surroundings have received, it would be easy to believe that the Antique Gate has been in its location since time immemorial. However, its installation came nearly 10 years after Portland Japanese Garden opened to the public and only after original plans for it stalled.