Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Japanese Gardens

The Japanese Gardens of Washington Park

Mass transit will take you most anywhere in Portland proper but it’s important to know where to get off. Especially if you’re heading to the Japanese Gardens in Washington Park. If you get off at the right place but at the wrong stop, you might – as Bill and I discovered -- be in for a long walk.

Getting off at the Washington Park stop (Zoo) might not be the best place to disembark – when our main reason for going was to see the Japanese Gardens. If however, we’d wanted to get an idea of Washington Park’s many offerings, the zoo stop was a very good place to get off. To get to the Japanese Gardens from the Zoo stop we had to traverse a few miles (or so it seemed) of the park’s meandering trails, many of which were in an uphill direction.

The trails through Washington Park are quite wonderful. They lead to overlooks, and through various terrains. My favorite trail, leading (we hoped – we had no map) toward the Japanese Gardens, was the Magnolia Trail adorned as it was with a variety of magnolia trees, most of them in full bloom.

As we made our way down a rather muddy trail toward the Gardens, we noted a crowd of people and tents stretched along the entry way to the gardens. An annual plant sale of some sort which we bypassed quickly. Once within the garden confines, I felt the noise and bustle outside its walls fall from me like a discarded cloak.

The Japanese garden concept goes far back in history and is influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophy and is intended to create a sense of peace, harmony and tranquility. Every garden contains three primary elements: stone, water, and plants (for a four season tapestry).

The Portland Japanese Gardens include a variety of styles – each of them exquisite with the varying textures and colors of carefully selected trees, shrubs, and flowers. There are two gardens with raked sand, a ceremonial tea house with both inner and outer gardens, a strolling garden with an upper pond and moon bridge and a lower pond with a cascading waterfall, and a natural garden with smaller ponds, waterfalls, and tiny bridges and on the far east side of the gardens a view of downtown Portland and Mount Hood.

As Bill and I left the gardens, having little desire to return the way we came, we asked a man wearing a badge the shortest way back to the trains and we treated to what had to be one of the most involved, intricate, and confusing directions we’d ever encountered in all our traveling days. We were rescued by a “stranger” who wasn’t as acquainted with the gardens but whose directions saved the day. “Go down through the Rose Garden, stay to the left, and keep going down until you reach the road.”

And so we did.Publish Post

1 comment:

tinker said...

What a trek you had! The photo of the waterfall is beautiful, though - I think I could sit and gaze at that for hours.