One of the top things to do in Portland, according to the Internet, is to see the Portland Japanese Garden. Even if it weren’t so highly ranked, as someone who will forever love nature, I would have probably come here anyway while I was in Portland.
I love Japanese gardens, how simple, clean and minimalist the environment always is. The moment I step foot onto a Japanese garden, I always feel like I immediately go into zen mode. The one in Portland was no exception. And yet, despite its simplicity, there’s so much to see and plenty of space to walk around.
When Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Japanese ambassador to the United States, visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he called it “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve been to a couple of Japanese gardens. So far, the one in Portland is my favorite.
And probably my favorite part of the garden is the waterfall. I sat in front of it for several minutes before continuing my walk around the rest of the grounds.
Also within the garden, you can grab a bite to eat and some tea to drink at Umami Cafe. It was the first stop I made when I got in because I was hungry. I had a pleasant dining experience there, although the food is on the pricier side. But on the flip side, it’s a non-gratuity establishment + Portland doesn’t have sales tax.
I ordered the genmaicha with manju set ($11) and a chikara cake ($8). I loved the genmaicha tea, which has a roasted rice flavor. The servings are small but filling, and you can ask for extra hot water to fill your teapot if you finish your tea and want more.
Admission to the Portland Japanese Garden is $14.95 for adults, but I think it’s absolutely worth the price. I arrived at the garden about two hours before closing, and while strolling at a leisurely pace, I nearly missed a few sections of it. So there’s really a lot to see for that $14.95. I’d suggest coming at least three hours before closing at the latest if you plan on thoroughly enjoying the environment.
Portland Japanese Garden is located at:
611 SW Kingston Ave.
Portland, OR 97205
For more information on the garden, click here.
Within walking distance of the Portland Japanese Garden is the International Rose Test Garden, which is free and worth visiting as well. Click here to read more.