The London Peace Symposium. Photo by Hayley Madden.

The International Exchange Forum connects global communities for dialogue through exploring those ideals of Japanese culture which resonate in every culture around the world, including appreciation of fine craftsmanship, a deep personal connection to nature, and the search for internal and external peace. The Exchange Forum connects individuals and organizations around these shared interests. Together, participants build global relationships, exchange and explore ideas critical to modern life, evolve theory and practice in their respective fields, and collaborate to implement the ideals of Japanese gardens, arts, and culture in varied and meaningful ways for communities around the world.

Japan Institute’s peace programming is made possible through Robert and Deborah Zagunis.

International Peace Symposia

The London Peace Symposium. Photo by Kyle Mannock.

Our public Peace Symposia series features leaders from numerous cultural, intellectual, and diplomatic fields, coming together to discuss the evolving role of public spaces as the platform for peacebuilding and community engagement. Japan Institute will hold six Peace Symposia on six continents over the course of three years:

London Peace Symposium keynote speaker Kjersti Fløgstad, Nobel Peace Center Director. Photo by Hayley Madden.

These symposia explore the interplay between and convergence of landscapes, architecture, and arts in shaping new civic conversations and efforts for peacebuilding through cultural diplomacy.

Read a one-page on our Tokyo Peace Symposium by clicking below:

Tokyo Peace Symposia Photo Slide Show:

London Peace Symposia Photo Slide Show:


Yumi Fuzuki reads her work, ‘Gathering the voices,’ at Japan Institute’s Tokyo Peace Symposium. Photo by Ken Katurayama.

At the conclusion of all six Peace Symposia, Japan Institute will publish a book of the poetry that has been included in their programming. It will include work by winners of a challenge sponsored by Japan Institute and the Poetry Society of the U.K., a globally respected organization founded in 1909 that advances poetry through its publications, competitions, and collaborations with international organizations.

Commissioned Poets:

Peace Lantern Dedications

The Peace Lantern donated to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in their Japanese Landscape. Photo by Hayley Madden.

In September 2022, Japan Institute presented replicas of Portland Japanese Garden’s Peace Lantern to the cities of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Tokyo ahead of its Peace Symposium in Japan. Then, in December of 2022, Japan Institute presented a Peace Lantern to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England.

These gifts are inspired by a gesture in 1954 by Yokohama, Japan’s then-mayor, Ryōzō Hiranuma. In an effort to repair friendships in the aftermath of World War II, Hiranuma began gifting stone lanterns to different locations around the world to “cast the light” of peace.  Portland was one the recipients. At first, the lantern was installed in the International Rose Test Garden and then finally in 1967, it was placed in Portland Japanese Garden’s Strolling Pond Garden. While its journey concluded more than 50 years ago, its significance has not waned. Rather, it inspired the generations that followed. To read more about the Peace Lantern, click here.

Peace Lantern Dedication Photo Slideshow:

International Tours

Japan Institute staff and their patron tour outside the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway.

The International Exchange Forum creates customized national and international travel programs for audiences to explore and contrast Japanese gardens, art, and culture with other similar and contrasting destinations around the world, as well as destinations and organizations that align with Japan Institute’s mission of Inspiring Harmony & Peace. Through this exploration, individuals find renewal for themselves as well as opportunities to understand people from other cultures.

Oslo, Norway Photo Slideshow:

Concurrent to its peace programming in London, Japan Institute hosted a patron tour including Portland Japanese Garden Board Members, donors, and partners to experience more programs and build the relationships that will help advance our mission of inspiring harmony and peace. At the conclusion of the London Peace Symposium, the patron tour continued to Oslo, Norway. There, both Japan Institute staff and their fellow travelers visited the Nobel Peace Center and attended events highlighted by the Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony held on December 10. Below is a collection photos of the events and gatherings that took place in Norway.

Collaborative Programs with International Cultural Organizations

A reception at the U.S. Embassy in London, hosted by Japan Institute and Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Hayley Madden

Global relationships continue to reveal new opportunities for discussion and collaboration on initiatives important to varied communities around the world. These projects are some of the first collaborative efforts:

  • Sister-institution relationships modeled on the established collaborations between Portland Japanese Garden and Taizo-in (Kyoto), International House of Japan (Tokyo), and Keihanna Garden (Kyoto).
  • Ongoing Living Traditions webinar series in conjunction with the Government of Japan and Japan Society, exploring the influence of centuriesold traditions on many of today’s most popular trends.
  • Collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Culture, Garden Society of Japan, North American Japanese Garden Association, and others to achieve UNESCO designation of intangible world heritage for Japanese garden art form – 2016 through 2026.

In addition, the International Exchange Forum is working to create global connections among gardens and Japanese cultural organizations with plans to host these conferences in future years:

  • The Inaugural North American Japanese Cultural Conference in Portland, Oregon – June 2024.
  • The Inaugural Great Gardens of the World Leadership Forum in Portland, Oregon – July 2026.