Amid rainy evenings and vast expanses of trees in Portland, Oregon, lies a beautiful 5.5-acre space known as Portland’s Japanese gardens. Considered the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, these gardens attract thousands of visitors each year from all over the world. The park, which has existed for nearly 50 years, contains five different Japanese gardens: the Flat Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, the Natural Garden, the Tea Garden and the Sand and Stone Garden.
With a climate similar to central Japan, Portland presented itself as the perfect place for landscape architect Takuma Tono to design and construct an authentic Japanese garden. In 1967, the Japanese Gardens first opened to the public. Traditionally, Japanese gardens are intended to connect the viewer with nature and to provide feelings of tranquility, peace and harmony. Designers like Tono create Japanese gardens asymmetrically to accurately reflect nature’s aesthetic.
The five gardens consist of stone, water and plants, as well as a number of secondary features like pagodas, water basins and bridges. Designers envisioned that each garden would be utilized for a distinct purpose. For instance, the Tea Garden is meant to be a place for quiet reflection, so it contains picturesque pathways that represent journies. In the Sand and Stone Garden, however, the focus is on blank space, and so the landscape is open, empty and lacks much of the foliage seen in other gardens.