Photo: Courtesy of Portland Travel
Are you feeling the need to get some fresh air but also find some order amid these crazy, mixed-up times? Head to a Japanese garden to get a dose of Zen along with your Vitamin D. While Japan itself is still half a world away, here are three meticulously kept gardens in the U.S. that offer serene settings to help you keep calm and carry on.
When Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., visited this garden, in Portland, Oregon, he called it “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” Originally designed in 1963 and expanded in 2017, it takes up 12 acres in Washington Park, just up the hill from the International Rose Test Garden, and offers eight unique garden spaces, including a Strolling Pond Garden (featuring a 100-year-old, five-tiered pagoda lantern from sister city Sapporo) and a tranquil Sand and Stone Garden. Plus, on a clear day you can catch views through the trees of Mount Hood, towering Fuji-esque in the distance.
You can’t get more authentic than this Philadelphia landmark without crossing the Pacific. In fact, the 17th-century-style house here was designed by Japanese architect Junzo Yoshimura and constructed in Nagoya in 1953. It was then disassembled and moved to MoMA in New York, where it was on display from 1954 to ’55, before finally ending up at the Japanese Garden in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park in 1957. In 2007, painter Hiroshi Senju donated 20 murals that were installed on the house’s sliding paper doors, and in 2012 the 1.2-acre grounds (which include a hill-and-pond garden with a tiered waterfall) underwent a landscape restoration.
The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the BBG is one of the oldest Japanese-inspired gardens in the U.S., having opened way back in 1915. Highlights include a classic wooden shinto torii gate, a small shrine, an asymmetrical 1.5-acre pond, and lovely stands of Japanese maple and cherry trees. The garden is a great place to visit any time of year (those maples boast fiery fall foliage), but it’s most popular during the spring, when the sakura bloom and the BBG puts on a two-day festival to celebrate Japanese culture. It’s a little taste of Kyoto right on Flatbush Avenue.