Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden – The Water

This is one of those recycled posts I felt stands on its own. I was utterly captivated by this gorgeous garden – so much so that I produced 3 other posts relative to it in September and October of 2009.

The Portland Japanese Garden, very much like its Chinese garden, which I helped construct, provides one of the most beautiful Japanese Gardens in the world. It is very highly-rated as these things go and one can certainly see why once we tour it. So much unfolds there in front of us, it is far larger and more interesting than one had any right to believe.

This is a World Class garden.

(click pictures to enlarge……..for some…..a lot!)

This trip was a revelation to me. In spite of the fact that I have lived here on and off for 6 years, I am truly ashamed to say I had never visited this gorgeous garden. Wow! is all I can say. I am dumb. This garden is one of the most highly-ranked Japanese Gardens in the entire world and, without doubt, deservedly so. I have actually been to Japanese Gardens in Japan – Kyoto, in fact – so my failure to take this one in deserves a special sock in the chops for missing it. It was quite a revelation.

Fortunately, it was a warm and sunlit day here in late September – almost too warm in fact. We had some eastern winds (our version of Santa Ana’s) which brought the heat of the desert in and made my huge walk just a bit more challenging than I had figured it would. I put in about 5-6 miles before even landing at the Garden, I so enjoyed Washington park, inside which is this Garden, along with the Rose Garden across the street. But the peaceful serenity and the amazing eye candy upon entering was the perfect salve for the tired legs and flagging spirit I encountered briefly, before entering. My camera was very busy!

The simple fact is that there is literally so much to appreciate here, it dazzles the senses. As someone who had always appreciated the gorgeous and simple lines inherent in most Japanese Gardens. I was blown away with any number of things. For one thing, there is some sort of water just everywhere. Running creeks, some good sized lakes – there is more water in this particular garden than in any it has been my good fortune to see. Small waterfalls of a most placid sound and sight, leading to still ponds full of Koi.

Since I am dealing only with the aspect of water in the garden in this episode, I must pay my deepest respects to one of the single most beautiful waterfalls I have literally ever seen. This materializes out of the woods, as it were, in an extremely logical place, supposedly draining the mountainous hillside to its rear.

I took pictures from a few different angles, to try and capture not only its fairly impressive size, but also the utterly organic sense it provides, coming as it does off the nearby mountainside. Nor does the sound of it even matter – somehow it is not oppressive nor overwhelming in any way. I guess it is distant enough to stop all that. It seems to blend so well, it actually just seems – aurally – just another organic piece in a bigger puzzle. It does not stand out in any way but visually. But man, for this waterfall maven, it knocked my socks off. I absolutely love it in every way.

Seen here (above) we see the falls in the distance from the top of a nearby hill. Vantage points for these falls are everywhere, seen between the trees and the stupa sculpture below, complete with real, authentic tourists like me:

And that’s not all the gorgeous and settling water around this Garden. Here are a few other looks at more intimate settings, all of which grant a peaceful flow to this gorgeous park.

From the smallest and seemingly insignificant dripping effects of a bamboo water tube:

To a far more natural and extremely unique feast for the eyes:

The water features and the placements in general of flora and natural features represents the very best in the art of Japanese Gardens. I will close today with these pictures, focusing on water and those who live in it:

12 thoughts on “Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden – The Water

  1. wanted to visit there…oops! anyway, I loved seeing this another way. I have seen their website before, but you make it seem like being right there!

  2. I’ll have more going in tomorrow, or the next day, Phillip. That was just the water. The plants and the two – not one – sand/gravel gardens are amazing too.

  3. Working with arborist tree care and landscape design, one might expect me to like the Japanese Garden a lot more than I do.

    It’s the kind of place that I’d visit like every 5 years or so.

    That Portland Japanese Garden is not my style at all. What I like best about it, is the detail and overall control of the growth.

    There are many design elements I like within it.

    I think the water elements are among my favorite aspects of that garden.


    M. D. Vaden
    Beaverton, Oregon

  4. I agree, Mario – from a practical perspective – like ours – it is far too demanding to maintain for your average home owner.

    The water elements just plain stunned me, tho. I loved them and was surprised it was so pervasive. I am not sure what I even expected, lol, but it was a darn pleasant discovery.

  5. One other aspect I like about that garden which many home gardens could mimic in some ways, is the raked sand. Or gravels. I find that they can be very easy to maintain, and leaves rake or blow right off. And there are so many ways to arrange plants, flagstone, pots and boulders among the field of sand or gravel.

  6. What a beautiful garden and the water features are so striking. I can almost hear the water flowing. This garden truly reflects a feeling of relaxation. Thank you for the tour.

  7. Hello again.

    Just passed by this garden about 8 times the past two months, while scouting for locations in the natural park landscape for models (just started portraits first time late summer). So I went to the Portland Japanese Garden website because one model mentioned a special membership pass for photographers. Thinking hard about getting one in 2012.

    Cheers … Mario

  8. Hey Mario – nice to see you drop by. The Portland Japanese Garden is a sumptuous feast, no doubt about it. Are you taking up Photography as an alternate career? Or just expanding your personal licks a bit?

  9. I have heard of the Portland Japanese Garden but unfortunately never visited yet! It is a garden must to visit and is on my list. Thank you for sharing. Your photos give me many ideas about the garden. 😀

  10. Cool, Akiko. It is also amazingly peaceful, especially considering its location, in the middle of town.

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