Portland Japanese Garden, ‘a balm for the soul’

Multnomah County

12 acres of tranquility perched above Washington Park

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fall is a change of the seasons and it’s also a great time to take in some fall colors. The Portland Japanese Garden is one place where dramatic color changes are taking place for the next several weeks.

The Japanese Garden was built in the aftermath of World War 2 to promote peace among Americans and Japanese. It has also been a place where people have gone for inner peace. The next two weeks are the most spectacular of the year as leaves of the many Japanese maple turn colors for fall.

It is 12 acres of tranquility perched above Washington Park in Portland’s West Hills. And every year about this time marks the beginning of the changing colors of the fall leaves — a blowout of colors erupting against a backdrop of native Doug fir.

“What you’ll see is pops of yellow, pops of red,” said Lisa Christy with the Portland Japanese Garden. “In fact one of these Japanese maples over here will often turn a lovely shade of pinky red that’s just gorgeous.”

The colors will emerge to their most vivid during the next 3 weeks, she said. It is the perfect time of year to see the brilliance of the Japanese maple.

There are many varieties of Japanese maple — some with a $1 million view of the Portland skyline — some nestled under the canopy of the big fir overhead. The peace, the quiet and the tranquility have always been the calling card of the garden. And in the face of an ongoing pandemic those qualities of this place have never meant so much.

“Now when things can get a little fraught, things can get a little harried, things are a little confusing, it’s a place where you can continue to come week after week and find some peace and find a way to, like you said, recharge and restore your soul. We call it a balm for the soul.”

The Japanese maples are almost endless. They include one 70-year-old tree next to a pond thought to be the most photographed in North America.

The Portland Japanese Garden — a place for a timeout, to stop thinking and take in the beauty that will be in full bloom for the next several weeks.

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