Hokkaido, Japan

Japan is a country that is remarkably vast and varied, despite its relatively small geography. For the second year, Portland Japanese Garden celebrates the country’s unique diversity across its geography by focusing on a specific region, its culture, and its customs. This upcoming year is a special one for the Garden and the city of Portland. It marks the 60th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Portland and Sapporo, located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Hokkaido has experienced a history like our own here in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps most notably in the rich indigenous cultures of both native traditions. Like the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, the Ainu peoples of Hokkaido were originally hunters and fishermen who depended on nature for their livelihood. The commonalities between these cultures, like the commonalities of Portland and Sapporo, remind us that the Pacific Ocean acts not as a barrier but a bridge between our two countries.

Portland Japanese Garden celebrates the strong relationship between Portland and Sapporo with a focus on Hokkaido for its 2019 Art in the Garden programming:

Ice and Stone: Suiseki Viewing Stones and  Hokkaido Landscape Photography
February – March 2019

Suiseki is the Japanese art of stone appreciation, which values the beauty of stone as a metaphor for stability, longevity, and immortality. Formed through time by wind and water, these naturally shaped stones can take many forms and shapes, reminding us of mountains, islands, and other natural phenomenon.

This exhibition, on loan from the prestigious Huntington Library and Gardens, features a selection of Suiseki Viewing Stones from the collection of James Greaves, to be curated by the Huntington’s Cultural Curator Robert Hori in collaboration with Mr. Greaves himself.

Paired with the viewing stones is a selection of black and white photography of ruggedly poetic Hokkaido landscapes by Michael Kenna, considered one of the most influential landscape photographers of his generation.

Northern Lights: The Return of Ceramic Art from Hokkaido
April – May 2019

On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Portland-Sapporo Sister City relationship and the 50th Anniversary of the Hokkaido Pottery Society, Portland Japanese Garden will host an exhibition of work by more than 20 members of the Hokkaido Pottery Society.

The first Northern Lights exhibition was held in 2008—the inaugural year of the Art in the Garden program—to demonstrate the wide array of ceramic forms and styles created by Hokkaido potters. New works by several of the original artists will be featured in the exhibition along with work by a number of new members.

This exhibition also celebrates the long-time, special relationship between Hokkaido and Oregon potters, who recently returned from a reciprocal exhibition held in Sapporo earlier this year.

Forest of Dreams: Ainu and Native American Wood Carving
June – July 2019

The third exhibition in the Garden’s Year of Hokkaido celebrates the artistry and traditions of indigenous peoples of Japan and North America. Wood carvings in the form of power boards (similar to totem poles) and objects for use in daily life celebrate the cultural and artistic contributions made by Ainu artists of Hokkaido and Chinook artists of the Columbia River region to their respective cultures across the Pacific. Welcome posts will be erected on the Garden’s Pavilion Overlook and wood carvings will be displayed in the Tanabe and Pavilion Galleries.

Japanese Fashion Design: Noritaka Tatehana
October – December 2019

In conjunction with Portland Fashion Week 2019, the Garden will feature an exhibition of the artwork and contemporary Japanese fashion design of Noritaka Tatehana, whose extreme platform shoe sculptures make historical reference to the okobo platform shoes worn by maiko (geisha apprentices) and have caught the eye of Lady Gaga and other fashionistas.