The Japan Institute

Advancing our Mission

Portland Japanese Garden was created in 1963 by Portlanders who sought to create a world-class Japanese garden for the community.

The Garden was founded to honor the business ties and friendships across the Pacific that had been nurtured since the mid-19th century, to rebuild peace and understanding between our nations after World War II, and in response to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the war. It was a citizen-led effort to create a world-class asset and legacy for the community of Portland.  

From the inception, Portland Japanese Garden set a precedent by seeking a designer and a lineage of curators from Japan in order to create and continually nurture the most authentic and finest Japanese garden outside of Japan. After nearly 60 years, Portland Japanese Garden has become a cornerstone of the Portland community, and as Portland has become a significant national and international tourist destination, the Garden’s influence has expanded to include all 50 states and more than 90 countries. 

Through the decades, our mission has always remained the same – to bring the ideals of Portland Japanese Garden to the world through art of craft, connection to nature, and experience of peace.  

To advance our mission for the next 60 years and beyond, we recently announced the evolution of Portland Japanese Garden as The Japan Institute. This new path formalizes the concept of how we continue to share and expand on the existing programs from the Garden by building on our current foundation with global collaborations, experiential education, and innovative programing. It will create a more inclusive and expansive canopy allowing more of Japan’s greatest gifts to be explored, more robustly, with more people around the world. The goal is to formally launch The Japan Institute in 2022. 

This expansion of programming means the need for space. We are currently in the process of purchasing a 3.65-acre satellite campus to serve The Japan Institute’s needs. The property, previously owned by the Salvation Army, is located in Forest Park in NW Portland, just 3 miles from Portland Japanese Garden. It is a beautiful setting with buildings designed by one of Oregon’s most prolific architects, A.E. Doyle. Much like the Garden, this property is tucked away from the busy everyday world, surrounded by towering trees, and feels like an urban oasis.  

 This campus will provide the necessary space for administrative offices as well as our programs, allowing us to meet audience demand that exceeds our capacity at our current and main site in Washington Park. The new space provides a host of opportunities, such as housing artists-in-residence with studio space, conducting hands-on classes and workshops, offering demonstrations and lectures with renowned artists, cultural practitioners, and scholars, holding multi-day seminars for Japanese garden enthusiasts and professionals, creating a greenhouse space for the bonsai collection – the list goes on.  

The purchase of the property is made possible by numerous and generous Garden donors and fundraising is still ongoing.