Monday, April 28, 2014

Y is for Yin and Yang (Portlandia A to Z)

Yin and yang is for Chinese and Japanese Gardens--Portland has both, and while they are different, they are both tranquil and beautiful.

Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is located in Washington Park (W is for Washington and Waterfront Parks). It's frequently touted as the best Japanese garden outside of Japan. We have visited a lot of Japanese gardens, in Japan and elsewhere, and this is my personal favorite. The Japanese ambassador to the U.S., Nobuo Matsunaga agreed with me, saying "I believe this garden to be the most authentic Japanese garden, including those in Japan." The two things that troubled me about the gardens in Japan were the proliferation of vending machines and people smoking--this garden fortunately lacks both of those features!

Occupying 5.5 acres, the garden has five major subgardens: the Strolling Pond Garden, the Natural Garden, the Sand and Stone Garden, the Flat Garden, and the Tea Garden. The lower entrance has a 100-year-old authentic temple gate. The garden was designed by Professor Takuma Tona, a famous Japanese landscape architect. Design began in 1963, and the garden opened to the public in 1967.

When our oldest son was a baby, we had an annual pass to the garden. I haven't been there for several years, but I'm longing to go back after looking at these photos! It's such a lovely place!

Makes me homesick for Japan!

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Front gate
It's hard to believe I've visited the Lan Su Chinese Garden only once, on my birthday back in 2008. It's a wonderful walled little gem in the middle of the Pearl District downtown. It occupies a full city block, about 40,000 square feet in Chinatown. It's modeled after the famous classical gardens in Suzhou, China.

The Chinese Garden is much younger than the Japanese Garden--it was a result of a sister city partnership between Suzhou and Portland. Then-Portland Mayor Vera Katz helped find a site for the Chinese Garden in the 1990s. Designed by Kuang Zhen Yan, it was built by 65 artisans from Suzhou on land donated by Northwest Natural Gas. 500 tons of rock from China were used in the garden, which opened in September 2000.

Previously it was called the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, but at its 10th anniversary in 2010, it was renamed to the Lan Su Chinese Garden...Su represents Suzhou and Lan represents Portland.

The garden has more than 400 species of trees, orchids, water plants, perennials, shrubs, and bamboo, all indigenous to China. The garden also has a lovely tea house and gift shop.

One of my favorite features of the garden is the gorgeous stone walkways. Well worth a visit, and time for me to return there!! These are photos of our visit to the garden in October 2008, when my little Nicholas was only two years old.

My favorite pathway!

Tomorrow's my last Portlandia blog post! Z is for Zoo! Read the rest of my Portlandia A to Z posts here.

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