Asking which garden in Portland, Oregon, is better: Japanese or Chinese, is like asking whether one prefers Japanese food over Chinese food or sunrise over sunset. Each has unique qualities.
A welcome element during our visit to Portland is the abundance and variety of public transportation available. You don't need a car, and both gardens are easily accessible from a downtown hotel.
The Japanese garden is the largest. It's located near the Oregon Zoo, covers 5.5 acres and consists of 5 distinct gardens: flat garden, strolling pond garden, tea garden, natural garden, and the sand and stone garden.
Portland became in 1958 a sister city to Sapporo, Japan. The Japanese Garden opened in 1967. It's peaceful, tranquil and spiritual. A shuttle bus from the Oregon Zoo dropped us at the foot of the gardens and, although there is another shuttle to take to the top, we decided to walk up the long and step path. Here are a few photos from the Portland Japanese Garden:
The Portland Classical Chinese Garden is located across town from the Japanese Garden. Light rail dropped us in Old Town Chinatown. This Ming Dynasty scholar's garden was once considered the largest outside of China, but Pasadena, California, has a larger one, I hear. Like the Japanese Garden, all plants, flowers, trees, stones and pathways are in harmony with nature.
A guide related the story of 2 men sitting in the garden observing pond fish. One man suggested the fish were happy. The other said, "How do you know if the fish are happy? You are not a fish."
The second man replied, "How do you know if I know if the fish are happy, because you are not me." Gardeners put 40 small fish into the pond, which has since mushroomed to more than 500 fish. They sound happy to me.
And for the next hour, I did not think about Sacramento short sales once. Here are photos from the Portland Classical Chinese Garden:
Elizabeth Weintraub is an author, home buying columnist for The New York Times-owned About.com, a Land Park resident, and a Land Park real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown and East Sacramento. Weintraub is also a Sacramento Short Sale agent who lists and successfully sells short sales throughout Sacramento. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put 35 years of real estate experience to work for you.
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Photographs: Elizabeth Weintraub