19 Beautiful Moments I Captured in the Portland Japanese Garden

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  • Post last modified:February 23, 2019

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We visited the Portland Japanese Garden in September and I’m here today to share some of the serene beautiful moments we experienced there. This post is about photos, more than text, but I will start with a quick review of our visit  and an outline of what you need to know if you plan on visiting this magical place.

About Portland’s Japanese Garden

Sometime in the late 1950’s Portland found itself a Japanese twin sister: Sapporo. A few years later, the city decided to follow the  gesture by establishing its own authentic Japanese Garden. Authentic in the sense that it was fully designed by a Japanese landscaper: Takuma Tono of the Tokyo University of Agriculture.

This garden has since won multiple awards for its genuine style. Experts agree that it’s the best example of Japanese landscaping in North America.

The garden is open to the public seven days a week, usually between 10am and 7pm (Mondays and winter time, they have different hours, so check their website when planning your visit. The cost of admission is $14.95 for adults with discounts for youth, seniors and students.

Our visit to the Portland Japanese Garden – A Quick Review

In September, we visited Portland for a couple of days, en route from Alaska back to Los Angeles. We had visited the city before and basically stopped to wait for a few pre-ordered items to find their way to a local Amazon locker. I checked online to see which are the most popular attractions in Portland to make sure we weren’t missing on anything. Sure enough, the Portland Japanese Garden seemed to be the no. 1 attraction in town.

So, on a typically rainy and cloudy Portland day we went to town. We parked our car in a lot in Downtown Portland and walked from Pioneer Square to Washington Park. We hiked uphill through beautiful woodland all the way to the Japanese Garden.

I hadn’t researched admission rates prior to arrival. We had visited the nearby Rose Garden in the past so I assumed this would be either free or low-cost. Wrong. As a family of four, it cost us almost $50 to get inside.

So, did we like it? Yes, we did. This is an absolutely magnificent garden and I only had two issues.

Admission rate is a bit high

First, the garden is too small. Yes, that’s sort of a compliment but that’s also my way of saying the admission rates are too steep for the length of the experience. We walked fairly slowly and stopped to appreciate the many small gardens within the garden and yet, within one hour we were done. $50 for an hour is a bit steep for our family’s travel budget.

Food options are limited

The second issue is the food. All that walking made us hungry. There is what appeared to be a lovely Japanese tea room but my boys are not that adventurous culinarily. What’s more, I wanted to take a Japanese ice tea and cookie to go but was told you have to get a table. No “to-go” options. well, I couldn’t very well drag the rest of my family to sit in a fancy Japanese restaurant just because I wanted ice team and a cookie.

So, if you’re visiting with your family – get something to eat before you go into the garden and/or bring snacks along with you. And yes, we survived (it was only one hour) but it would have been nicer had we been able to grab a quick bite.

Finally, the photos!

This garden is a photographer’s dream. I’m not a photographer yet was able to capture some really gorgeous shots. I hope you enjoy these – Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post  Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post

Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post

Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post  Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post Portland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog postPortland Japanese Garden - one of 21 shots shared in this blog post

I hope you enjoyed these photos. If you’ve been to the Portland Japanese Garden, do share your own impressions in a comment – thank you!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. R. Fernandez

    Photos are beautiful. The garden is, in fact, magnificent. Price of admission too high? Maybe debatebale. Art is priceless, in my opinion. It’s not a kids trampoline park. Its living art for the soul.
    But the complaints about food and take-out? Well, now that just sounds like gentrification in the flesh. Sadly, the most important experience lesson of a Japanese garden was completely missed. Sad. But thanks for the photos.

    1. Anne

      Ummm ok. This is a personal blog and I’m not sure why you felt the need to leave such a patronizing comment. Sad.

    2. Gina

      It is a beautiful garden, I was just there with a friend a month ago to enjoy the azaleas and camellias (which were unusually gorgeous this year because they weren’t ruined by the rain). I’m guessing they don’t want people walking around with food because there are pigs that live among us and they have enough to do just keeping the garden up let alone collecting garbage. We had to make an appointment to get in because of covid so there was a limited number of people and that was kind of nice.

  2. holly

    How superb… thank you for sharing and I have started my own small (minature) version in my garden… this will be great inspiration.

  3. Betty Ellis

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and comments
    It’s on my list of places to visit close to my visit to Seattle to see family

    1. Anne Moss

      Thank you for your comment, Betty. I hope you enjoy your visit there.

    2. Gina

      You may also enjoy the Chinese Garden (even smaller), the Oregon Garden quite large and it has a Frank Lloyd Wright house on the property.

  4. Kathy Coughlin Burke

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks so much for sharing. Don’t know when I’ll get back to the pacific northwest but wish I could go right now.

    1. Anne Moss

      It is a gorgeous area, for sure. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Kathy – much appreciated!

  5. Donna

    You are right about it being a lovely place… and I think you did an amazing job with the photos.

    1. Anne Moss

      Thank you!

      1. Kate

        Thanks for sharing your photos. We’re just starting to build one and these offer ideas and inspiration.

        1. Anne Moss

          Hi Kate, thanks for the comment! So glad the photos helped!

  6. Rebecca Surette

    Thanks to you and your travels, I get to see places I never knew existed, and others I only dream of seeing! What lovely photographs you took!

  7. Wow that looks beautiful. I went to Tokyo a couple months ago and really loved the “Zen” like gardens they had in the middle of a bustling city. You can just go and forget that you are in Tokyo.

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