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The Cultural Crossing: April 2 is Your Day

Photo by Bruce Forster

When the doors to the Garden’s new welcome gates open to you on Sunday, April 2, we believe your experience will be exceptional.

That Sunday in April is your day, and you will be among the very first to step through the gates entering into the Cultural Village. After almost 18 months of waiting patiently, you will see what years of planning and your generous contributions and support have created.

The Cultural Crossing expansion brings together Pacific Northwest materials, Japanese craftsmanship and design, and environmental sustainability at the highest level of functionality and comfort.

As construction winds down, Garden Curator, Sadafumi “Sada” Uchiyama and our team of gardeners are focusing on planting and landscaping the new garden spaces you will see when you visit the Cultural Village in April. Our gardeners worked with an outside contractor to safely store valuable shrubs, pines, and Japanese maples over this last year. Many mature trees, with their roots balled with burlap and moved off-site during construction, have returned and are now being replanted. We will also add hundreds of new plants to the site, often in places where invasive species, like English ivy, have been removed.

The monzenmachi or “gate-front town” concept preserves the essential experience for each individual visitor, spreading out needs such as admissions, education, orientation, shopping, eating, and sharing experiences outside of the 5.5-acre Garden.

The Garden’s new buildings, designed with careful thought by renowned architect Kengo, are intended to blend seamlessly into the landscape. “The perimeter glass is all openable, all the corners open out, and so we have a continuity that is not just along the eaves or the roof edges, but also functionally throughout the buildings. Our intention was to never draw a hard line between the inside and the outside. That we always have some measure of connection to nature,” said Balazs Bognar, Chief Manager, Kengo Kuma and Associates.

The authentic Umami Tea Café will provide a much needed place for visitors to rest and refresh, while experiencing a traditional Japanese tea service firsthand. With a design reminiscent of Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple, the finished café will cantilever over the hillside and provide never before seen views of the area’s natural beauty. Tea will be provided by the Tokyo-based Jugetsudo tea company, while snacks will come via a partnership with Japanese food company, Ajinomoto as well as several local Japanese confectioneries.

/ Photo by Bruce Forster

Garden Retail General Manager Ashley McQuade and Garden CEO Steve Bloom have been working meticulously to select every element of the café from the tea served with Japanese inspired sweets, to the tea ware – specifically selected to complement each type of tea.

And as always, the original five gardens will stand in quietude, linked by the water that runs through them—including the dry “waves” raked into patterns. In the new gardens, which will surround and protect the original Garden, the flow of water will provide a connection throughout the entire 12-acre hillside. The breathtaking new spaces will offer a taste of diverse aesthetic design.

Our goal is to safeguard the preservation of Japanese garden art and culture around the world. The Cultural Crossing educational and event facilities were expanded to fulfill this important role and responsibility.

Join Us for the Grand Opening - April 2nd

Join us at the Portland Japanese Garden for the Grand Opening and unveiling of the Cultural Crossing expansion. We’ll be having welcome ceremonies and festivities all day on April 2nd, and throughout the week to commemorate this historic event.

Our expansion hopes to protect your visitor experience by providing additional space to accommodate our rapid visitor growth. This new space and Garden spaces will allow you to have a more complete, human experience – a place for congregating and socializing. And equally important, a place for meditation, peace, and calm.

Japanese Garden Renovation Aerials / Photo by Bruce Forster