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Embracing A New Reality

On a clear day, the view of Mt. Hood from our Pavilion Outlook is a sight to behold. / Photo by Julia Taylor

From Aki Nakanishi, Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art and Education

For those of us in the culture, nature, and people-focused business, social distancing is excruciating, to say the least.

We realize, however, that not being able to congregate and socialize with others whom we love dearly has been and will remain a crucial part of our everyday life for the next while.

Yes, we say this pandemic has proven itself to be one of the most devastating and far-reaching catastrophes in the history of humanity, affecting all people in every corner of the world in the way time invariably reaches everyone. But you and I also know that culture transcends space and time, and plants a seed of hope in people’s minds no matter where it comes from, as long as one is open to new things and perspectives channeled through real or virtual experiences.

culture transcends space and time,

and plants a seed of hope

We believe in the resilience of culture and its fundamental power to heal, inspire and uplift our souls. Our longing for nature – for we are all part of nature, and nature is a part of us – never ceases, backed by our insatiable appetite for knowledge and discoveries, both scientific and artistic. That is why all civilizations have sought a perfect paradise, a place of repose, delight and bliss, be it the Judeo-Christian concept of Garden of Eden or ancient Indian belief in Brahmaloka, and have attempted to create an imitation of the metaphysical landscape on earth for living humans.

A misty summer view of the Flat Garden.

Strolling through Portland Japanese Garden these days, so empty and so quiet, I am reminded that a Japanese garden is one human embodiment of the ideals of peace and invigoration developed through millennia of interaction with other cultures.

As we look to embrace this new reality, I reached out to friends of Portland Japanese Garden to share content that takes us back to why it is that we revere those gardens so much and how those gardens have also became a platform for other art forms that inform how we experience the garden.

Enjoy These Captivating Videos of Japanese Culture

Japanese gardens

This 10-minute film was produced by NHK World (Japan’s PBS International) and navigated by my friend Peter Barakan (a long time resident in Japan and one of the country’s best known radio personalities and music critiques).

Staying at Home with Zen Meditation

Produced and shared by one of the Garden’s close friends in Kyoto and one of Japan’s most prominent Buddhist masters, Rev. Daiko Matsuyama of Taizo-in (Myoshinji Temple).

And there are many more videos from our friends at Taizo-in on their YouTube channel.

The Tea House and Spirit of Omotenashi

This 28-minute film was also made by our friends at NHK World and focuses on an integral part of the Japanese Garden: Tea.

Those, I am quite certain, will provide you with critical insights into the genesis of some of those familiar settings at Portland Japanese Garden beyond their aesthetics, while equipping you with ways to put yourself on a mental journey in the comfort of your home, as well as gradually getting you ready to return to the garden with fresh perspectives on what you see in the programs at the garden.

Wishing you all well and safest days ahead.

Aki Nakanishi