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Japan Government Sends Garden Staff to Japan

Group from Portland, Oregon Chosen for First-Ever Japanese Cultural Exchange

EMBASSY OF JAPAN, WASHINGTON D.C. – A delegation from Portland Japanese Garden will travel to Japan for a first-of-its-kind trip as part of the “KAKEHASHI Project,” a U.S.-Japan exchange program. The 10-person delegation, from what is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, will be immersed in Japanese landscapes and culture during their January 22 – January 30, 2018 visit.

Tyler, Sean, Megan, and Cathy at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Portland Team at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

“Portland Japanese Garden is honored to be selected for this immersive cultural opportunity,” said Steve Bloom, Chief Executive Officer of Portland Japanese Garden. “We are grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan for inviting ten of our Garden staff members – a first for this program – to participate in the exchange.”

During their weeklong trip, the Portland delegation will visit the Katsura Imperial Villa outside of Kyoto, which features a premier Japanese garden. They will also tour a Shinto shrine in the city of Kamakura and the Nezu Museum in Tokyo, among other cultural experiences.

“Portland Japanese Garden is an extraordinary display of Japanese heritage and culture here in the United States, and we are pleased to welcome this team to Japan,” said Takehiro Shimada, Minister for Communications and Cultural Affairs. “This is the first time Japan will host a Japanese garden delegation as part of the KAKEHASHI Project, which serves as an important bridge between Americans and Japanese. Through this unique bond, we look forward to further cultivating our friendship with Portland Japanese Garden and the American people.”

About Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden, celebrated as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside Japan, opened its $33.5M Cultural Village expansion in April. Designed by world renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who is also spearheading the National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the Garden’s new Cultural Village not only provides additional space to accommodate its rapid visitor growth, but also – and most importantly – enhances its ability to immerse visitors in traditional Japanese arts and culture.

Inspired in the late 1950s by growing cultural ties between Oregon and Japan, Mayor Terry Schrunk and members of the Portland community conceived the idea of building a Japanese garden on the site of the old zoo in Washington Park. Their reasons for building a Japanese garden were twofold: providing the citizens of Portland with a garden of great beauty and serenity, while forging a healing connection to Japan on the heels of World War II. At this time in U.S. history, Japanese gardens were founded across the country as a way to build cultural understanding. Needing no translation, an American could experience firsthand Japanese ideals and values, communicated simply through nature.

The site was dedicated in 1961, and Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo Agricultural University was retained to design the Garden. Professor Tono’s plan included five different garden styles laid out on 5.5 acres. This was quite a departure from gardens in Japan which typically follow one singular style. His intention was to represent different historical developments in Japanese garden architecture and through that communicate Japanese culture to create a cultural exchange. For more information, visit

About the KAKEHASHI Project

The KAKEHASHI Project builds friendship and cooperation between the United States and Japan through people-to-people exchange. Through KAKEHASHI, the Government of Japan selects uniquely qualified Americans to visit Japan and learn more about its people, policies and culture. In turn, the American participants share their own insights based on their experiences – fostering a greater understanding of our two nations and closer personal ties. KAKEHASHI participants range in age and come from diverse backgrounds from across the United States. KAKEHASHI means “an arched bridge” in Japanese. It is a bridge to friendship. The KAKEHASHI Project is America’s Bridge to Japan.