With extended travels in Europe next on the Everywhere Once agenda, it’s going to be a while before we trek across Asia. In the meantime, Asian-themed and inspired places and exhibits (like the majestic Terracotta Warriors) are whetting our appetites for the sites we’ll see on the continent. Helping to further fuel the wanderlust were visits to Portland’s Japanese and Chinese gardens.
Portland Japanese Garden
Although Portland averages 150 rainy days a year, the weather didn’t dampen our spring visit to the city. Abundant sunshine compelled us outdoors, including to our first sightseeing stop: the Portland Japanese Garden, where a walk is almost as stress-relieving as a yoga session. How could it not be when every plant, pond, and pagoda has been strategically placed to create a sense of peace and tranquility?
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Unlike the Japanese Garden, which sprawls across several acres in the even larger Washington Park, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is tucked into a single city block amid skyscrapers and heavily trafficked streets. What it lacks in acreage, it makes up for with intriguing architecture, which is as much of a focus as the foliage.
Artisans from Suzhou, China, Portland’s sister city, journeyed eastward in 1999 to transform the space into a Ming Dynasty-era garden—a place for its wealthy owners to escape the problems of everyday life and also a way to show off their status. These talented craftspeople even brought their own tools and materials, hauling some 500 tons of granite boulders across the Pacific along with roof and floor tiles, hand-carved woodwork, and latticed windows. A lake, a tea house, pagodas, and other buildings—including those reserved for scholarly pursuits or music-making and game-playing—harmonize with the natural surroundings, creating a flow between the indoor and outdoor spaces.