Jennifer Anderson featured the Portland Japanese Garden's new expansion in Tuesday's edition of the Outlook.
Known for its lavish spring cherry blossoms and brilliant fall color, the Portland Japanese Garden week will celebrate the grand opening of its $33.5 million expansion and remodel effort.
The Cultural Village project kicked off in fall 2015 with a fundraising campaign, the garden's first-ever renovation since opening in 1963.
Starting Sunday, April 2, the new space is open to the public — having added 3.4 acres of usable space to the 9.1 acre property — and is sure to boost what's already one of Portland's top attractions for locals and international visitors alike.
Kengo Kuma, the world-renowned architect who is also spearheading the National Stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said that designing the Cultural Village through a combination of locally sourced materials and Japanese craftsmanship has been a singular experience.
"Given its proximity to nature, Portland is unlike any place in the world," he said. "This new Cultural Village serves as a connector of the stunning Oregon landscape, Japanese arts and a subtle gradation to architecture."
Working with the garden has influenced his approach to future projects, especially integrating green and wood, he also said. "For example, the National Stadium in Tokyo will be rich in vegetation, evoking a feeling of forest in the city."
So what is new for visitors at the Portland Japanese Garden? Here are the top 5 things to see when you go:
1. New buildings
Three new buildings are open to visitors, each LEED-certified with their own living roof to absorb rainwater and prevent water run-off. Kuma designed the roofs with a nod to the thatched roofs of fishing huts from centuries ago in Japan.
The Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center is home to new gallery spaces, a multi-purpose classroom, the garden gift store and the Vollum Library, a comprehensive resource on Japanese gardening and related arts. A new Garden House will offer horticulture workshops.
2. Umami Café
This brand new café will feature teas and products from Jugetsudo, a Japan-based tea café whose shops in Tokyo and Paris were also designed by Kuma. Built with Port Orford cedar and Tyvek, which emulates rice paper, the café appears to float over the hillside at the east side of the Cultural Village, with views of nature outside its windows. Japanese-style refreshments will also be served.
3. Castle wall
This authentic, medieval castle wall, at the west end of the Cultural Village, is a sight to behold. It's 185 feet long and 18.5 feet high, designed by Suminori Awata, a 15th-generation Japanese master stonemason. It was built using traditional hand tools and techniques, and took 800 tons of Baker Blue granite from a quarry outside Baker City.
4. Three new gardens
Marvel at the new entry garden upon your arrival, with its cascading ponds and a water terrace at the entry in Washington Park. Also look for the tiny new urban garden, or tsubo niwa (courtyard garden), in the Tateuchi Courtyard, and the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace.
The existing Bill de Weese Chabana Research Garden, which evokes an alpine meadow in the Cascade Mountains, will grow native Japanese wildflowers to be cultivated for the garden's tea ceremony demonstrations. It's the first garden of its kind in North America.
5. Learning space
Visitors will get to fully soak up the Japanese culture through exhibits, lectures and weekly demonstrations in the new spaces.
The three major exhibits this year will include a celebration of tea culture in the art and life of Hosokawa Morihiro, a former Prime Minister of Japan (this spring); an exploration of kabuki performances this summer; and a look at handcarved masks and traditional silk looms next winter.
Still underway — set to open in 2018 — is the International Institute for Japanese Garden Arts & Culture, which will offer apprentice-based learning in activities like Japanese gardening, tea ceremony and calligraphy.
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