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Mimi Gardner Gates Joins International Advisory Board

Support from Around the World

Portland Japanese Garden wouldn’t exist without the critical support from advocates from around the world who help to advance the work we do towards fulfilling our mission. One such group of advocates is our International Advisory Board (IAB). Today, we are pleased to announce the appointment of Asian art scholar, Mimi Gardner Gates to this esteemed group.

Gates was most recently Director of the Seattle Art Museum for 15 years (1994-2009), and after being appointed Director Emerita, she provided oversight for the Gardner Center for Asian Art and Ideas at theSeattle Asian Art Museum. Previously, she spent 19 years (1975-1994) as curator and then director at Yale University Art Gallery. During her time as the Director at the Seattle Art Museum, Gates presided over several ambitious projects, including establishing an art conservation department, expanding the downtown museum, and most notably, creating the award-winning Olympic Sculpture Park. Since retiring as a museum director, Gates, a specialist in the history of Chinese painting, has focused on the magnificent cave temples of Dunhuang in northwest China and co-chairs the Dunhuang Foundation.

Gates was married for 24 years to the late Bill Gates Sr., and together they were active members of the Seattle arts and philanthropic scene for nearly three decades.

Gates joins a roster of international leaders who are at the top of their field. Founded in 2011, the International Advisory Board is comprised of many of Japan’s business, cultural, and philanthropic leaders matched by counterparts in the U.S. and the United Kingdom who have a strong interest in Japan and Japanese culture. 28 regular members and two honorary members help lend their expertise and open doors to new opportunities.

With the much-anticipated launch of the Japan Institute in 2022, the commitment and extensive personal networks of our IAB members enable us to continue to expand our reach on a global scale and develop innovative programs. Here is just a small glimpse into the ways that our International Advisory Board members have supported the Garden since 2011:

  • Chief Priest Shigeho Yoshida of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine helped bring the ancient ritual of Mikagura to the Garden – the first time ever for these historic dances to be performed in the continental U.S. During this trip, members of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine also honored the Garden with a ritual tree planting, which now serves as a symbol of our friendship, as well as the connection between the U.S. and Japan.
  • Tadashi and Teruyo Yanai, founding family of global clothing retailer Fast Retailing, parent of Uniqlo from Tokyo, Japan. The Yanai family played a critical role in bringing a Kabuki performance to the Garden through an introduction to Shochiku Co., the premier kabuki company in Japan.
  • Kengo Kuma, world renowned Japanese architect who designed Portland Japanese Garden’s Cultural Crossing expansion, spoke about our work together at symposiums that took place in Japan in 2017, 2018, and 2019 on topics such as “Building Bridges in an Age of Walls.”
  • During the Garden’s effort to return two kasagi that washed up on the Oregon coast following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Masatoshi Ito, Chairman of Ajinomoto Co., Inc. offered the assistance of his own employees. He mobilized his staff with the directive to seek out shrines that had washed away during the earthquake and tsunami. In a country with over 10,000 shrines, this was no small task. His staff put aside their daily work for weeks to research the town that had suffered this loss and we were able to return the kasagi in a gesture of support, friendship, and hope.
  • The late Ron Herman, one of the world’s foremost practitioners and scholars on Japanese gardens, assisted and advised in establishing the International Japanese Garden Training Center. His legacy lives on through a recent gift made by his wife, Jenny Herman, which helped make the Japan Institute a possibility.

Thank you to these and other IAB members for their commitment, counsel, and shared vision. As we embark on the next stage of our evolution, we are honored to continue to work with these esteemed individuals and look forward to the myriad ways their efforts enhance and advance our work towards inspiring harmony and peace.