Portland Japanese Garden
North America, Photography

Reaching Photographic Zen at the Portland Japanese Garden


Unlike many world travelers, if you asked Shaun and I what our favorite country has been throughout our traveling “career”, it has always been a quick and easy reply – JAPAN. It is the country that we would love to return to and has haunted us every day since July 2008. I had just picked up my camera in a serious manner then and was capturing our trip on my mom’s old analog Canon. We don’t have many stories from there on Over Yonderlust and I’m sure that will change sometime soon. When in Portland on our recent trip with Hostelling International USA, I made it a point to visit the Portland Japanese Garden. After pouring over pictures for a few years, I was ready to return to my slice of Japan.

What occurred next caught me a bit off guard. Between happy tears and stunning scenery, I captured one of my best sets this year. I found my happy place. I had a moment of “oh yeah, this is why I do this.” I had a permanent smile on my face. I experienced a bit of zen.

There is one tree in particular that I had kept as my desktop picture for years; a tree that I found so whimsical, detailed, and beautiful that it was the entire reason for me heading up to the garden.

At a mere 5 feet tall, it was everything I imagined.

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I had returned to Japan and my nostalgic feelings came flooding back.

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Our trip to Portland was made possible by Hostelling International USA, however all opinions are my own.

25 thoughts on “Reaching Photographic Zen at the Portland Japanese Garden”

  1. This is making me miss home! I love the Japanese gardens and really every part of Forest Park. I’m glad to know it does a great job replicating a slice of Japan. For me, I’m just enjoying seeing all the beautiful tones of green. Lovely shots!

  2. Oh you guys found one of my favorite places in the world. The entire Forest Park is amazing… any time of year. Check out the zoo too.

  3. Oh man, now you made me miss Japan too. 🙁 Portland is WAY closer, so I might have to get my fix from the Japanese Garden too.

  4. I love Japan so much even though I only went there in August I already want to go back. It’s such a beautiful country with so much to see and do. Very nice shots the garden seems to do quite a good job at recreating some of the gardens nicely. Great shots

  5. I’m a Japanese Garden member and was just there this morning shortly after they opened. I wanted to get a shot of the peaceful beauty there before starting my workday. So worth it! The fall colors are gorgeous, and it felt like the whole garden was preening for admiration this morning.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting here Barbara! I was not disappointed by our first experience with the Portland Japanese Garden. I think if I lived there I would also be a member so I can head up as much as I possibly could. I wish we had more time or I would have just spend the day reflecting with the beautiful backdrop.

    1. Next time, right? Yeah, many people shoot it from under and with a wide angle lens, giving it is grandeur. In my mind it is 100 feet tall!

  6. I love those moments of photographic zen, when you’re suddenly inspired and in the zone.

    Also, doesn’t it annoy you that you have all these pre-blog trips not recorded in cyberspace? It kills me! I have these hysterically detailed scrapbooks from pre-blogging trips to Costa Rica and Belize. I should just scan the pages and throw them up and say “Here’s what a high school ‘travel blog’ looks like. Enjoy.”

    1. You have NO CLUE (or, it appear you do). My honeymoon was scrapbook style and I wrote all over the pictures with Sharpie with arrows and funny things that happened… and I don’t have the negatives. I’m not sure I want to post those!

  7. That first tree is ridiculous! Wow. I really want to go back to Portland. Funny, SVV is from there but I’ve only visited *other* boyfriends in Portland (meaning it’s been a decade since I’ve been!).

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