Portland Meditative Garden tour: Japanese and Chinese Gardens

Portland Meditative Garden Tour — $120
10 a.m. Daily

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Experience Portland’s gardens in a deeper way. Our vehicle tour will delve into garden design as it is meant to access your higher self and touch all your senses — including your sense of spiritual connectedness. Our about five-hour tour includes admission to the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden, guided meditations, and visits our guide’s favorite downtown meditative gardens and places. The tour is meant as a philosophical and historical approach to the garden as it is used in urban spaces, but one with a significant sense of delight in the encounter.

Pickup at lodging in Central Portland. Garden admission and snacks provided.

Our tour begins with a favorite of ours, a Northwest Portland public garden, in order to introduce the complexities of nurturing natural beauty into urban spaces (and what had to be destroyed to make all this possible). From here, we drive into the heart of Northwest Portland, where we’ll visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Here we contemplate the garden in its historical and cultural perspective, not just as the Suzhou style translates into the urban Pacific Northwest context, but also in the history of the immigrant groups of all races who once lived in this neighborhood: Chinese, Japanese, European and before all these, Native American. We’ll talk about the concepts of synesthesia and how the Mandarin poetry on the walls of the garden is meant to remind us to open up the barriers between our distinct senses and understand the garden in an entirely new way.

We’ll have some time to experience the garden and tell stories about zen masters and how they approached the garden as center to meditative practices, and spend some time in quiet meditation. At the Chinese Garden, we will sit down for tea and light snacks.

Next, we drive through Nob Hill and into Washington Park to visit the Portland Japanese Garden, long called the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, and explore it while talking about history of Japanese gardens, styles of gardens, and the philosophy with which their designers approach the symbolism of trees, rocks and plants. We’ll talk about the zen (or “Sand and Stone”) gardens and how the care of the garden itself is a meditative practice.

After this experience, we’ll make one final stop at another urban garden space; the stop will depend on your guide and the time of year, so expect to be surprised — for most visitors, this will be a garden you never imagined could be here.