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First Visit

Japanese Portland Gardens are a place of peace and spectacular beauty.

Yesterday my daughter and I took a tour with a very knowledgeable guide who is one of the 80 volunteers that help keep the gardens going. We were fortunate to be visiting on a day where the moss could not be greener and the blazing colors of deep yellows and fire orange Japanese maples are woven throughout many of the gardens. A record rainfall for this region added to the lushness.

A garden is a dream and this was clearly the dream and imagination of a true master, of design, balance and beauty. In 1963 Professor Takuma Tono designed 5 gardens on 5.5 acres and in 1967 it was ready to be open to the public.

Beautiful manicured Japanese gardens done with thoughtfulness, intentionality and impeccable grace. In all of the gardens there are three essential elements, stone, water and plants that represent the tapestry of the four seasons. Multiple ponds, waterfalls and streams are adjacent to trees, shrubs ,ferns and mosses that grow in their natural state. The exquisite asymmetrical designs allow you to experience things up close to feel part of the environment along with a sense of hide and reveal for various elements of the gardens that come more into view as you get closer, a 100-year-old five-tiered pagoda lantern that sits quietly at the edge of one of the ponds for one example.

The cascading waterfall that sits in the middle of the gardens has it’s own unique story. When Takuma Tono came to see the waterfall he said I don’t need to see it, just to listen. As you would tune an instrument he tuned the waterfall with having stones and rocks adjusted just so to produce the sound he was looking for.

A beautiful Haiku poem is inscribed on one of the rocks, sent as a gift to the Garden when it first opened and a friend of the Takuma Tono.

“Here, miles from Japan, I stand as if warmed by the spring sunshine at home.”