View all News & Photos

Looking Ahead: Our City Beyond the Trees

Since the Portland Japanese Garden was first established more than fifty years ago in the West Hills, the trees around us have grown significantly taller, more robust, and the surrounding vegetation has flourished.

Nowhere is that more evident than from the steps of the Garden’s Pavilion looking east toward Mt Hood.

A view of Mt. Hood from the Garden in 1968 / Photo by Robbie Robinson

A photograph taken just one year after the Garden opened to the public shows a clear view of the Rose Garden and city skyline with Mt Hood in the distance. It is a view similar to this, which a group of dedicated Garden advocates have been working to maintain. The group, the Garden Resource Committee (GRC) is comprised of board members, Garden staff, and friends of the Garden who have been working to establish the view corridor from the Pavilion’s east overlook, while still being good stewards of the environment.

“The view looking east from the Pavilion is one of the most iconic views in the city, one the original Garden designer, Professor Tono, valued highly. It needed to be defined, protected, and become a matter of record to preserve it for all time.” — Michael Ellena, GRC Member

Sketch by Garden Curator Sadafumi Uchiyama

While the neighboring International Rose Test Garden has six designated view corridors, there has never been a protected view at the Garden. As you might imagine, it’s no easy task to establish a view corridor. The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) works to protect quintessential Portland views throughout the city.

The process for the Portland Japanese Garden began five years ago when GRC committee members looking 50 years ahead realized the view to Mt. Hood would be gone unless it became protected. In September of 2016, board members testified before the BPS as a first step in establishing a protected view corridor for the Garden. Several meetings with the mayor and Portland city commissioners helped further the cause. Soon, the City expressed support for the Garden’s request to establish a protected view corridor and preserve the iconic view.

Photo by Julia Taylor

After a final City Council hearing this month, it is anticipated that the view corridor for the Garden will move through the process and become a defined and protected view as well as a matter of record in city documents.