Portland Japanese Garden
Portland OR 97205
- Mon: 12pm-4pm
- Tue: 10am-4pm
- Wed: 10am-4pm
- Thu: 10am-4pm
- Fri: 10am-4pm
- Sat: 10am-4pm
- Sun: 10am-4pm
Widely regarded as one of the more authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan itself, the Portland Japanese Garden covers 5.5 acres in the city's West Hills. Pagodas and patches of raked sand give way to foot bridges that cross sinuous streams, which, in turn, wind around Japanese maples, bamboo, plum trees and iris beds before transforming into waterfalls that spill into ponds. A traditional tea house features a clear view of snow-capped Mount Hood. Guided tours of the landmark's five gardens, each of which reflects a different style, are included with the price of admission. The gardens are popular among those interested in botany as well as anyone seeking a tranquil refuge.
Parking and public transportation at the Portland Japanese Garden
As part of Portland's Washington Park, the garden is accessible by mass transit in the form of Trimet buses and light rail from the city as well as nearby Beaverton and Hillsboro. Once at Washington Park, visitors can take a free shuttle connecting any of the park's attractions, including the Portland Japanese Garden. The shuttle runs every 20 minutes between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily from Memorial Day through Aug. 31 and weekends only the rest of the year.
Those who choose to drive to the garden, which features a parking lot, will have to pay parking fees between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Fees are $1.60 per hour or $6.40 for the whole day between April and September or $4 for the whole day between October and March.
The garden provides a free shuttle bus from its parking lot to its admission gate every 15 minutes during regular hours.
Best and worst time to visit the Portland Japanese Garden
Garden staff and volunteers say there is no bad time of year to visit, as the five gardens making up the attraction transform to showcase natural beauty no matter what the season. However, the bold colors of foliage in the fall tend to make an autumn visit well worth the time. Summer, on the other hand, tends to see the most people filing through, which makes it the least appealing time to visit for those who want to savor the garden's tranquility.
Admission to the Portland Japanese Garden
The cost to visit the garden ranges from $6.75 to $9.50 depending on age. Children 5 and younger are admitted free, while college students with school ID are given a discount. The price of admission includes access to the garden, exhibitions and the Garden Gift Store.
Must see/do at the Portland Japanese Garden
Although it is especially spectacular when its leaves change color in the fall, the 100-year-old Japanese maple known as "That Maple," is the chief attraction at the garden year-round. It is located within the Flat Garden. No visit to the garden is complete without a good look at the tree.
The Tea House is another can't-miss stop at the garden. Made by master craftsmen in Japan, it includes the traditional anteroom and sitting room of authentic Japanese tea houses. Its sliding papered doors create a sense of intimacy not found in many Western buildings.
Other places to visit at the Portland Japanese Garden
Washington Park, where the Portland Japanese Garden is located, encompasses more than 400 acres of forest and 15 miles of trails. Other attractions located there include the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children's Museum, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Hoyt Arboretum and International Rose Test Garden. The park is located only minutes from downtown Portland.
Insider tip for visitors to the Portland Japanese Garden
Many fans of the garden check its website or call to plan their visits in conjunction with one of the many garden events held year-round. The autumn moon-viewing nights, which include live music, Japanese food and tea and sake service, all under the moonlit sky, are popular among locals. Other events include art exhibitions, workshops, classes and traditional Japanese festivals.
Author's bio: LeeAnn Neal is a journalist, blogger and Pacific Northwest native.