Portland has both a Japanese Garden and a Chinese Garden. My daughter and I thought we would only have time for one or the other, and so we read the descriptions and reviews of both gardens and tried to choose just one. They both got rave reviews, but as my daughter had lived in Japan twice, we opted for nostalgia and the Japanese Garden. The evening before we flew home, however, we discovered that our flight had been changed, giving us just enough time to add the Chinese Garden.
So which was better? Having been to both, I still can't make a recommendation of one over the other.
THE JAPANESE GARDEN covers 5.5 acres in Portland's West Hills neighborhood, a nice break from the noise and commotion of the city, which is important as traditional Japanese gardens seek to unite the visitor with nature and provide a sense of peace and tranquility.
We visited the garden at the end of the day when there were very few other visitors, and it was definitely peaceful and tranquil.
There are five sub-gardens: the Strolling Pond Garden, the Natural Garden, the Sand and Stone Garden, the Flat Garden, and the Tea Garden.
Two different zen gardens in different areas of the park promote meditation.
Paths crisscross and meander between and among the gardens, all with places to sit, rest, and contemplate the glorious surroundings:
There was a bridge that looked vaguely familiar, like I'd seen it somewhere before. I checked it against Monet's Japanese Bridge, and yup, it was a match:
And, of course, there must be all types of water--trickling, bubbly, glassy, tumbling, placid, reflective:
We went on a day when free admission was offered in exchange for two cans of food for the local food bank, so it was relatively crowded. I wouldn't describe it as a tranquil place.
There is a definite serenity in water that captures silhouetted shadows:
So many wonderful places to explore:
Just don't explore too closely:
Each sidewalk has a different personality:
Stones and living things sometimes look a lot alike:
Talk about atmosphere. There was even some lovely, screechy, live music played on an erhu by a charming man who broke into "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" when a child stood in front of him to watch him play:
Our snack energized us for more exploration:
Who could possibly pass up the opportunity to walk down this pathway?
Final Analysis: Japanese Garden or Chinese Garden?
I can't imagine choosing one over the other. Just plan your time to do both!
This was the final venue of our fantastic Mother-Daughter Adventure (if we don't count the chocolate tasting at the Portland Airport). Thanks to my lovely daughter for being one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden of my life. Our trip was a blast, and I hope some day we will be able to do it again!