Planning a Visit
When is the best time of year to visit?
Any time of year is a good time to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. Japanese gardens are created with imagination and designed to display nature’s beauty in all seasons. Spring is the time for fresh greenery and subtle blossoms. Cherry blossoms appear briefly in late March, while late spring flowers include azaleas, camellias, and wisteria. Summer’s sunlit shades of green yield an unbroken, calming visual experience. The vibrant colors of fall make autumn a popular visiting time. Autumn is a celebration of nature’s gift of life in the past year, and a transition to the peacefulness of winter.
How much time should I allow to visit the Garden?
Depending on your pace, it usually takes most visitors one and a half to two hours to tour the Portland Japanese Garden. The Garden is also a place to linger, reflect, and meditate, so we encourage you to take your time and enjoy.
Are pets allowed in the Garden?
No pets are allowed, only ADA (or trained) Service Animals are permitted inside the Garden.
Is the Garden wheelchair/stroller accessible?
According to ADA standards, the whole of the Portland Japanese Garden is not legally accessible. However, the new Cultural Village, the upper Flat Garden, and the Pavilion are legally accessible by ADA standards. A free shuttle bus from the Welcome Center to our Cultural Village operates during regular Garden hours.
Strollers can be folded up and taken up to the Garden on the shuttle. When you visit, please ask a staff member about where strollers can be stored in the Garden.
Do you have wheelchairs/scooters for rental/loan?
We do not have any wheelchairs or scooters available for guests.
Does the cost include Admission to the Rose Garden also?
The Rose Garden is a separate park run by Portland Parks & Recreation that doesn’t require admission. The Portland Japanese Garden is an independently run not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Garden’s operating budget comes from gate admissions, retail sales, membership dues, and donations.
Do you have reciprocal access with any other organization?
During the month of November, we have reciprocal access with Lan Su Chinese Garden for our members. Learn more about member benefits.
May I rent the Garden for a wedding, commitment ceremony or reception at the Garden?
To protect the Garden’s tranquility, authenticity, and environment, we do not allow public rentals for events, weddings, commitment ceremonies, or receptions. We refer those interested in a garden setting to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Corporate Members interested in hosting events in the Garden should contact Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer Ingrid Arnett at [email protected] or (503) 542-0289 to discuss rental possibilities based on membership level.
Why do you have a tripod fee?
To keep the Garden an accessible and enjoyable experience for all visitors, we ask everyone to please be considerate when photographing the Garden. There is a $10.00/person charge for using a tripod (for anyone not a Garden Member) because the Garden has a lot of narrow pathways and tripods can take up the space of a person when set up for photos.
How do I request a photography/videography shoot in the Garden?
Entities wishing to shoot still or video photography for commercial use must submit a Photography and Video Shoot Application.
What is the Garden shuttle?
Our Garden shuttle transports guests between the Welcome Center and the Cultural Village every 15 minutes during open hours. It is complimentary and is available to all our guests.
Is the Garden run by the City of Portland?
No. The Portland Japanese Garden is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that leases its land from the City of Portland. The Garden works with Explore Washington Park, Portland Parks & Recreation and the Bureau of Development Services to ensure that community needs are taken into consideration in any operating decisions. The Garden’s operating budget comes from gate admissions, retail sales, membership dues, and donations.
How many Japanese gardens are there in the United States?
There are nearly 60 public Japanese gardens in the United States. Most are connected to city park systems or botanical garden societies. By contrast, our independent, not-for-profit organization is devoted solely to the Portland Japanese Garden and operates year-round through admissions, membership dues, and donations.
Who runs the Garden?
The Portland Japanese Garden’s Board of Trustees hires a Chief Executive Officer to operate the Garden. The Chief Executive Officer is supported by department heads as well as administrative, retail, gardening, and operational staff. Currently the Garden has 83 full time employees.
Do you donate admission tickets for fundraisers or auctions?
We provide two admission passes to twenty applicants each month, selected from requests received between the 1st and the 10th of the month. Please visit our Donation Request Form to learn more and to submit your application.
What’s in bloom now?
Bloom times vary significantly based on weather. However, the list below is a good place to start. Follow us on social media for the most up-to-date photos of what’s in bloom.
– Camellias: Winter through Spring (depending on variety)
– Dawn Viburnum: Mid- to Late-Winter
– Andromeda/Pieris: Late Winter through Early Spring
– Cherry Trees: March through Mid-April
– Azaleas: April through May
– Magnolias: April
– Rhododendrons: Late April through May
– Wisteria: Mid-May
– Iris: Late June through Early July
– Fall Color: Late October through Early November
If you’d like to learn more about the Garden’s featured plants, The Tapestry of the Four Seasons book is available now in the Garden Gift Shop.
Why is there no water flowing down the hill?
You must have visited on a day when it was not raining. As it rains, water comes off the roof and is funneled into a series of swales that have been made into The Entry Garden. Our Garden Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama has beautifully designed The Entry Garden space to look like pockets of nature. We have a series of channels running down the hill that culminate into two major water retention tanks underneath the parking lot that our guests will never see. You will only see water running through the Entry Garden when it’s raining.
There are some flowers, but why aren’t there more?
Japanese gardens are not about showcasing plant material in nature. Rather, all elements live in harmony. Flowers don’t compete with foliage. In the words of our Garden Curator, Sadafumi Uchiyama, “Foliage has a role throughout the year. It gives texture and color in different seasons. Flowers give us seasons, and they give us time. Each has a role. That is the idea of harmony.” During the summer months, we encourage you to visit our neighbor, the International Rose Test Garden, to view their beautiful array of roses.
Why aren’t there more signs?
In order to maintain our visitors’ experience, we intentionally have minimal signage and rely on our visitors’ restraint.
Is painting allowed?
To prevent potential damage to the Garden, we do not allow pigmented inks or anything that could stain. The only exceptions to this rule are graphite pencils, charcoal, and sketchpads.
What am I going to see? What is the Portland Japanese Garden like?
The Portland Japanese Garden was built as a living classroom with eight different garden styles. We see our Garden as a holistic environment. Throughout the year we have ongoing programs and events that are intended to expand people’s understanding of Japanese arts and culture in the setting of the Garden.
Since most of the questions our staff receives are about Washington Park, we encourage you to visit Explore Washington Park’s website before planning your visit to see us.
Why is there a Castle Wall?
The idea for the wall began with Garden Curator Sadafumi “Sada” Uchiyama. Due to the Garden’s position on top of the hill, it became clear early on that a retaining wall was needed to hold back the western slope. Instead of a more traditional retaining wall, Sada thought it would be an opportunity to feature yet another connection to Japanese heritage craftsmanship. The wall was built using traditional hand tools and techniques. Led by Suminori Awata, a 15th-generation master stonemason, it is the first of its kind to be built outside of Japan.
Visitors can find the Castle Wall at the west end of the Cultural Village.