Jule Gilfillan, OPB:
Throughout it all, walkways meander, climb and dip, and reveal new and intimate vistas at each turn. The winding paths also require that you become aware of where you’re walking and serve to slow you down. The resulting mindfulness is both the hallmark and goal of Japanese garden design.
“I think what truly is the essence of a Japanese garden, it’s just that inner peace. It’s definitely an oasis from the stress of Portland or a busy life; if you’re able to just come up here, you go away feeling different about things,” observes Kondo.
That sentiment has been at the heart of the Portland Japanese Garden since the idea was born with the 1959 sister city relationship with Sapporo, Japan.
“It was really in the interest of peace and mutual understanding,” explains Garden President and CEO Steven Bloom. “You have to remember, at that time it was only 20 years after the war had ended and so the community was looking for a way to heal wounds.”
Nearly 50 years after leaving Portland, Hira wrote:
Now that I look back on those times, I can’t help but be amazed at how Americans were able to overcome their past and reach out to their once enemy and accept their culture. This is what makes this country so great: willingness to accept other cultures. And not too many countries can do that. This is what makes this nation so unique.
But Hira wasn’t finished.
However, the world is strange today. We are starting to isolate ourselves once again and looking for enemies. I can’t help but feel that we are starting to forget our mistakes in the past; the lessons our ancestors taught us with their lives. How much we endured just to learn how to live with each other on this earth. So let this Garden be a reminder to us all. A reminder of how the people of Portland had the courage to forgive and accept the culture of the once-enemy.