Portland’s Japanese Garden

We ascend the long, gradual wooden staircase to the entrance of the garden. The cloudy sky threatens rain, heavy moisture accumulates around us dampening the air. It is a curious thing, climbing to the top of the hill to enter this garden; almost as if one must earn entrance with the sweat of the climb.


The path meanders, as is customary in many a garden. It branches off here and there throughout the Strolling Pond Garden with quiet places to sit that are likely far more desirable on a sunny day. The tea house is closed yet entrance into it is unbarred; we discover this by accident as we wander the path and unwittingly enter the simple room with clean lines. It takes a few moments to discern what the room is used for. There are no tables just open space which we imagine to be filled with floor pillows when the weather allows. Realizing it is a tea house we back out of the room as if children having entered a forbidden area, hoping we won’t be caught.
The path continues to wander. The waterfall has a calming presence. There are a surprising number of people who have gathered around it. Among them, two friends are posing for selfies with the waterfall in the background; a couple and their son ready themselves to leave, debating what direction they should head.
My sister and I are okay with the indecision in our direction. We head this way, then we head back when the path intersects a place we have already been. Dove tailing around we arrive at the Sand and Stone Garden. Visible from above at the start of our journey, I am surprised at its large expanse. I think of the kitch miniature rock gardens that were amongst the clutter on many an office desk a few years back. I suppose this is the most readily available frame of reference I have for such a garden despite its origins being this setting more than that. The pristine sand impeccably smoothed gives way to the deliberate patterns that ring the mossy stones.
There is a special quiet to this garden. Perhaps it is the wet day’s deterrence of crowds. Perhaps it is the presence of the forest that surrounds it. It is easy to forget I am in a city. I suppose that is the ultimate goal of such a tranquil space.

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