My Thursday adventures took me back to a lot of memories with the Pittock Mansion, the Rose Garden, and being in Washington Park in general. My high school, Lincoln, is right at the base of the West Hills and Washington Park and on the cross-country team we took great advantage of our location. We certainly ran in Washington Park often and we also had our traditional Pittock Mansion Assault (PMA)! We ran up the brutal MAC hill into Washington Park, past the reservoir, through the Rose Gardens, by the Japanese Garden, onto the Wildwood Trail (which is 40 miles in its entirety- though we only ran a small part of it for this), crossed Burnside in the canyon, and then ran up the steep hillside to the Pittock Mansion. I started my morning at Pittock, went through the Rose Garden, and then was going to walk by the Japanese Garden and walk a bit on the Wildwood Trail to re-live more good memories.
When I got to the Japanese Garden I came to realize that despite spending my life in Portland and running by countless times I was pretty sure I had never been in. I have no idea why, but that certainly was a reason for me to check it out. I was really happy I did because it was a cool, peaceful, and serene place to be. The Garden also says that it’s been proclaimed as the most authentic Japanese garden outside Japan! For those of you in South Florida looking for a similar experience definitely check out the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Delray Beach.
Both the Portland Japanese Garden and the Morikami Museum are beautiful and worth a visit! From my visits to both what I liked about the Portland garden is that it seemed to have a lot more small water features, such as ponds, streams, and fountains. The Morikami Garden has it’s massive lake in the middle that Portland has nothing close to, but I enjoyed the intimate nature of the many ponds and streams the Portland Japanese Garden had. Another difference (that can be both positive and negative) is that the Morikami Garden is one giant loop, while the the Portland Japanese Garden has a lot of different sections that are intertwined. That can make it a bit harder to make sure you’ve seen everything, but also again sets up more intimate areas and discoveries. Similarly to the Morikami Museum and Gardens there are many traditional Japanese structures, rock gardens, and sculptures, although the museum and exhibits are a bit smaller than at Morikami.
What I also loved about the Portland Japanese Garden was the contrast between the traditional Japanese plant-life in the garden and the towering Oregon trees that ringed it. Also since the Japanese Garden is at one of the highest points in the park it has some incredible views of the city.
If you’re in Washington Park and looking for a serene and calming experience and/or you have an interest in Japanese Gardens then I’d recommend the Portland Japanese Garden as a place to visit whether you’re from Portland or here on a trip!
Portland Japanese Garden- 611 SW Kingston Ave Portland, OR