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 Responses to “Reaching Photographic Zen at the Portland Japanese Garden”

  1. Carmel October 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    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!

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      I KNOW. I didn’t even know plants could come in that many colors!

  2. Maria October 2, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    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.

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

      I really wish we would have caught it during the autumn colors. Seeing as I’ve only seen the leaves change once, I’m addicted now.

  3. Cate Smith-Brubaker October 2, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Gorgeous shots!!!

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Thanks lady! <3

  4. Gillian @GlobalBookshelf October 2, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    Japan is our favorite country too! These shots look like they could have come from the Land Of The Rising Sun!

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      It is so awesome to have other people who love Japan like we do. It is hard to not go back when there is so much of the world to see!

  5. Heather October 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    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.

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

      …AND they have good Japanese food. <3

  6. Alex | Partial Parallax October 8, 2013 at 5:55 am #

    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

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      HAHA! I love that you’re already ready to head back. 🙂

  7. Barbara Robertson October 9, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    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.

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      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.

  8. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans October 11, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    Wow – that tree is only 5 feet? It looks huge. It’s hauntingly beautiful. The Japanese Garden was on our to do list during our trip to Portland last winter, but unfortunately, we were short on time. Gorgeous pics!

    • Erica October 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      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!

  9. Alex October 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    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.”

    • Erica October 14, 2013 at 9:44 am #

      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!

  10. Diana Edelman October 14, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Gorgeous!! I love that tree, too!!

  11. Camels & Chocolate October 15, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    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!).

    • Erica October 15, 2013 at 10:42 am #

      You would go crazy with your camera. I wish I had the entire day just to sit.

      Also…. SCANDALOUS! (I kid.)

  12. Juno October 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Loving the rushing green colors!!!

    • Erica October 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

      Thanks Juno! I didn’t even know green could come in so many different varieties!


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