Among the dozens of Japanese styled gardens in the United States, the Portland Japanese Gardens are unique. Operated by a not-for-profit unaffiliated with any municipal authorities or botanical societies, the Japanese Garden in Portland Oregon is independently designed and maintained. Open year-round, the Garden offers busy Portland residents and visitors a respite from the noise and bustle of the world and a place to rest, reflect and renew their spirits.
Visitors of all ages are welcome in the Portland Japanese Garden, which regularly hosts events and festivals to introduce guests to aspects of Japanese life and culture they might otherwise never encounter. Beautiful and soothing, the Garden not only draws visitors from all over the nation, but plays a key role in fabric of the local community. From bringing art and culture to the underserved to renting out distinctive spaces for private events, the Garden is an integral part of Portland and not to be missed anyone planning a visit to Portland.
Sometimes referred to as the Japanese Tea Garden of Portland, the Garden is a serene space intended to foster calm and reflection in its visitors. On average, it takes just under two hours to fully tour the Garden, but visitors are invited to take their time and to spend as long as they like enjoying the site’s quiet beauty.
Aside from its Umami Cafe and gift shop, the Garden is divided into a series of separate spaces and smaller, themed gardens including the:
- Strolling Pond Garden.
- Tea Garden.
- Sand and Stone Garden.
- Flat Garden.
- Natural Garden.
- Entry Garden.
- Bonsai Terrace.
The Garden’s newly constructed Cultural Village includes an art gallery, library, educational center and courtyard in which events are regularly hosted. Virtual tours of the new space are available online for visitors who wish to get a feel for the space before their visit.
Unlike other attractions that can be unpleasant to visit during peak hours due to crowds and noise, visitors will find that there is not necessarily a single best time to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. This is because the Garden’s guidelines for visitor behavior create a peaceful, pleasant atmosphere at all times.
For example, visitors are asked to silence and avoid speaking on their cell phones while in the various areas of the Portland Japanese Garden. Smoking, pets, and foods and beverages are all prohibited, with the exception of water. For the safety of the gardens’ flora, visitors are asked to keep to appointed paths and for everyone’s enjoyment, basic courtesy rules surrounding photography and other forms of artwork are enforced. These rules ensure a safe and relaxing visit for all guests, regardless of when they come.
In addition to offering a restful space amid the city’s hubbub, the Portland Japanese Gardens provide a window into Japanese culture for the city’s residents and visitors. Almost every week, particularly during the busiest times of year, the gardens offer an array of events both small and large that invite visitors to explore portions of Japanese heritage and national identity they may not encounter anywhere else. Recent examples include:
- Tea ceremonies.
- Sake tastings.
- Japanese cultural festivals.
- Musical performances.
Availability can vary, as smaller events may have participation limits while larger festivals do not. Visitors interested in Garden events are encouraged to review their options and their specific ticketing procedures ahead of time.
Planning Your Visit
As with many downtown attractions, Portland Japanese Garden parking options are limited. Visitors are strongly encouraged to use public transportation whenever feasible to avoid the hassle and out of respect for the environment. Near the Portland Japanese Garden hotels may offer bicycles or shuttles for guests wishing to visit, and many provide maps with walking paths and public transit lines clearly marked for guest convenience.
In general, visitors can take TriMet bus #63 or the Red or Blue MAX light rail lines to the Washington Park/Oregon Zoo stop to reach the Garden. From Washington Park, a free shuttle service takes visitors to and from the Garden. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes daily from May to October, and then on weekends the remainder of the year.
For visitors planning to hit more than on attraction in a day, it can be helpful to know that Washington Park shuttle stops not only at the Garden, but the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Hoyt Arboretum and the Holocaust Memorial, as well.
From March through September, Portland Japanese Garden hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On Mondays, the Garden opens at noon and closes at 7 p.m.
Portland Japanese Garden winter hours run from October to February and are slightly more limited. Monday hours are from noon to 4 p.m. and the Garden is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every other day of the week. Additionally, the Garden opens for members only from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and during special, members-only events. The Garden is closed two days per year on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Portland Japanese Garden tickets can be pre-purchased online in advance or in person at the Garden. Children five years of age and younger are welcome in the Garden free of charge. For other visitors, ticket pricing is:
- $18.95 for adults.
- $16.25 for seniors over 65 years of age.
- $15.25 for students with appropriate ID.
- $13.50 for youth between six and 17 years of age.
Portland Japanese garden admission is free for members. Group rates are available, and reservations are required for groups including 10 or more children. The Garden also charges a $10 tripod fee for any visitor using a tripod to take photos unless he or she is a member.
Some visitors may qualify for a Portland Japanese garden free day. For example, the Garden offers free admission to United States Military service members during Fleet Week in June and on Veterans Day each year.
A Portland Japanese Garden coupon for free or reduced-cost admission may also be available to qualifying individuals or families via the Arts for All program, which serves low-income individuals and families receiving SNAP benefits.