A Tale of Two Gardens

Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, the natural backdrop at the Japanese Garden in Portland, OR, is an artfully arranged tableau.

Influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies, the natural backdrop at the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, is an artfully arranged tableau.

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?

A Japanese Laceleaf Maple graces the Flat Garden, one of five different gardens to explore.

A Japanese Laceleaf Maple graces the Flat Garden, one of five different gardens to explore.

A waterfall cascades in the Strolling Pond Garden, reminiscent of recreational sites the wealthy created on their estates in ancient Japan. Water, the life-giving force, and stone, the “bones” of a landscape, are two of the essential elements of a Japanese garden.

A waterfall cascades in the Strolling Pond Garden, reminiscent of recreational sites the wealthy created on their estates in ancient Japan. Water, the life-giving force, and stone, the “bones” of a landscape, are two of the essential elements of a Japanese garden. The resident colorful koi are there for their graceful and calming presence. The duck dropped by for a visit.

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.

Even the lyrical names given to garden spaces inspire a sense of calm, like the Courtyard of Tranquility or, seen here, a pavilion called Painted Boat in Misty Rain. The boat-shaped structure represents the vessel that traveled from Suzhou to Portland.

Even the lyrical names given to garden spaces inspire a sense of calm, like the Courtyard of Tranquility or, seen here, a pavilion called Painted Boat in Misty Rain. The boat-shaped structure represents the vessel that traveled from Suzhou to Portland.

The Scholar’s Study was a place to read, write poetry, and practice calligraphy. It’s also where the men in the family would prep for the civil service exams that could secure them prosperous jobs.

In the Tower of Cosmic Reflections (background), women would manage household finances and family affairs. This building contains a tea house which, unlike the ceremonial one in the Japanese Garden, is open for business. They serve tea in a format we’re familiar with—flights, with three or more varieties to sample and savor.

In the Tower of Cosmic Reflections (background), women would manage household finances and family affairs. This building contains a tea house which, unlike the ceremonial one in the Japanese Garden, is open for business. They serve tea in a format we’re familiar with—flights, with three or more varieties to sample and savor.

Tags: , ,

13 Comments on “A Tale of Two Gardens”

  1. John July 26, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    The Japanese garden is fabulous.

    Like

  2. dalecooper57 July 26, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    Wow! Those maples are amazing. Great photos.

    Like

  3. tiny lessons blog July 26, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Both gardens are very beautiful! I’ve not visited either, but visited a Japanese Garden in Fort Worth and many Chines gardens in China a few years ago.Looking forward to reading about your travels on other continents!

    Like

    • Shannon July 28, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      It’s neat to find gardens like this in various places around the country. We’ll be sure to check out the Japanese garden in Forth Worth if we’re in the area. And yes, please do come along for the virtual ride as we venture overseas!

      Like

  4. Lauren @ Peaks and Passports July 26, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Beautiful! I was in Portland this spring and we didn’t make it to either of these gardens. I’m disappointed after reading this post, but we had such a jam-packed weekend there that I don’t know where we could have fit them in. Yet another reason for a return trip!

    Like

    • Shannon July 28, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      I agree Portland deserves a return trip, and hopefully one is in our future as well. Definitely add one or both of the gardens to your itinerary — they’re similar in many ways and yet so different in others, including their locations.

      Like

  5. Jennifer Smith Nelson July 29, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    Wow, the Portland garden looks stunning!

    Like

  6. Victoria Fuller July 29, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Our spring WAS rainy… Almost a bit wistful for that now since we are into 70 plus days with no rain. The natives are actually beginning to complain – a tiny bit – about the long stretch of 80 degree days, making these two gardens and the shady walks they provide especially popular.
    Your pix are great. The Japanese maple with light filtering through is really nice. The Lan Su garden in particular can be tricky for photography when the white stone and stucco reflects so brightly yet the various trees can give such deep shade. Well done.

    Like

  7. Edward July 30, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    What beautiful gardens! The maple tree was particularly spectacular. I could certainly while away a few afternoons wandering around those grounds.

    Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. JARDÍN JAPONÉS – Sigeld - September 19, 2016

    […] everywhereonce.com […]

    Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: