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Japanese Garden Conference has lessons for life

Photo by Julia Taylor

PORTLAND, Ore. – Harmony, respect, tranquility. The elements that inform a Japanese garden are as sought after today as they were 1,500 years ago when Japanese gardens were first introduced.

It is these themes and more that will be explored by scholars, practitioners, and artists from around the world at the 2018 International Japanese Garden Conference in Portland, Oregon from September 29-October 1.

A Bridge to Japan

Portland, nicknamed Bridge City, is revered for its creativity, open attitudes, and connection to nature. Creative people choose it as a place where nature can inspire them. Urban planning is focused on humanity. And cultures from around the world are honored.

These values have created a mutual attraction between Portland and Japan. Portland is also home to Portland Japanese Garden which is considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and is one of the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in the world.

In addition to a world-class garden, Portland Japanese Garden runs the International Japanese Garden Training Center. Envisioned as a new education model, the Training Center combines traditional hands-on skills training with academic design lessons while incorporating immersive cultural experiences like tea ceremony. By incorporating “hands and heart” in its approach, the Training Center is preserving an ancient art form with modern day lessons.

The 2018 International Japanese Garden Conference now seeks to do the same. Portland Japanese Garden, along with the North American Japanese Garden Association and the Garden Society of Japan, invited attendees from 12 different countries to explore Japanese gardens as a global phenomenon. Conference presentations will focus on everything from Gardens as healing places to the impact of Japanese garden elements on our private lives.

Healing Gardens

In the United States, many Japanese gardens were created in the 1960’s as a way to build cultural understanding and heal the wounds from World War II. Today, the art form is more popular than ever with more than 300 Japanese gardens across North America.

In her welcome to Conference attendees, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown states, “It is no secret that Japanese gardens are a valuable resource in a community and that the cultural awareness these gardens provide nurture both mind and body. When we take care of such gardens, we take care of ourselves.”

For more information, go to NAJGA or contact Erica Heartquist,