shichi-go-san-kamakura-020 by Michelle D

An Historic Moment in History

On Sunday, a beautiful thing happened.

A decades-old vision conceptualized by the dreamers and doers at the Portland Japanese Garden became reality.

Nearly three thousand people came to witness the conclusion of construction and celebrate our beautiful new beginning: the Cultural Crossing expansion.

A 20-person delegation from the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine traveled from Kamakura, Japan to bless the Cultural Village from our new Tateuchi Courtyard. There were traditional dance performances, beautiful ikebana (flower) arrangements, a Japanese style chado (tea) ceremony, lovely sounds of koto (Japanese harp), the exuberant sounds of taiko (Japanese drums), and shamisen (a Japanese-style banjo).

Just one day prior, more than two thousand Garden members came for an exclusive look at our completed expansion.

In the words of CEO Stephen Bloom, “Who would have thought that the empty cement landscape of the former Oregon zoo would be transformed into a place dedicated to beauty, nature, and learning more about one another?”

Now, we are taking another step forward, evolving our story, through bringing people together in one place, demonstrating our fundamental interconnectedness, and sharing these ideals worldwide. This is only the beginning. 

Thank you, arigatou gozaimasu.


I took the train back to Kamakura after my visit to the Great Buddha, so that I could see the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine in the daylight and covered in snow. I was warmed from my tea break, and I ignored all the shops on the way to the shrine so that I wasn’t outside for too long. The snow was pretty slushy by the time I got to the shrine (although more was falling) and big chunks of snow was sliding off the temple roofs. It was relatively pretty, especially with the acer tree’s red leaves contrasting against the white of the snow. I didn’t stay long as I was getting pretty cold, so I hurriedly walked back to the train station and went to the next stop down the tracks, Kita-Kamakura.
There’s another shrine here, called Engaku-ji. It’s right next to the train station and it’s a large area filled with numerous temple buildings and gardens. There were plenty of opportunities for gorgeous photos. If you think Japan is pretty, wait til you see it in the snow! It adds a whole new level of magic to the place. Unfortunately for me, after walking to the top of the hill I couldn’t feel my feet or my hands, so I rushed back down to the station where I only had to wait 5 minutes for the train. My only goal was to get warm, and being on the train and then the subway helped. It was a quick day, shorter than yesterday, purely because it was so cold!! Tomorrow’s meant to be warmer and I really hope it is, I can’t spend my last week in Japan trying to keep warm!


20141116 Takayama 9 by Bong Grit
Via Flickr:
お散歩ついでに桜山八幡宮まで。 @Sakurayama hachimangu Shrine, Takayama, Gifu. (岐阜県高山市 櫻山八幡宮)

Gosho Hachimangu Shrine, located in Kyoto, is where the Emperor Ojin, the Empress Jingu and the kami (god) Himenokami are deified. Originally located in the southwest corner of Oike-Sakaimachi in Gosho-Hachimancho area of the city, it was moved to its present location along Oike Street during the forced evacuations of certain areas during WWII. Jpellgen pointed out in his photos of the shrine that there is an association to Ashikaga Takauji, the first Shogun of the Ashikaga line during the Muromachi period, and he is absolutely correct. Takauji ordered the establishment of this shrine when he chose these Shinto deities to act as guardians for the residence he built for himself around Oike- Sakaimachi. This shrine is a popular place for expecting and young mothers to pray for easy deliveries and healthy babies.


We visited Hachiman-gū, which is dedicated to the Shinto god Hachiman–the god of archery and war. It is the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura, but besides being a Hachiman (Shinto) shrine it was a Tendai Buddhist temple for most of its history, which explains why much of the layout and architecture is Japanese Buddhist architecture.


Some last impressions of Kamakura to wrap up this trip (though not the day, but you’ll see tomorrow~)

1. + 2.) The Elder Shrine’s entrance is guarded by those two figures, which have been safely put behind glass at some point. I’ve actually seen guardians like those at buddhist temples more often than at shrines, but there it’s also usually some large evil looking giants.

3. + 4.) The one-Yen-coin is about the silliest thing in existance. While most of the time Japan has prices rounded to full tens or hundreds, at times you will get a shopping trip that nets you a ton of those little aluminium buggers. Since we were nearing the end of the trip we wanted to get rid of those, and what better way to do so than to donate them to the gods!

Now since Tsurugaoka Hachiman is such a large and popular shrine, people may not always have the chance to donate from the front row, but might instead just throw their coins towards the donation box. For that reason the shrine’s administration put up a net and a board to catch and guide thrown coins into the box. We used that to our advantage to stage a shotgun-donation. We grabbed every one-Yen-coin we had, and two of my friends threw them all at once, much to the amusement of the Japanese around us.

5.) Several mikoshi lined up. During shrine festivals the shrine’s deity resides in those when it is paraded around the town. So this is practically the deity’s garage, where all it’s cars are lined up.

6.) A miko taking care of an Omikuji-stand. Omikuji are the popular fortune-telling paper-strips you can buy at every shrine and temple. Now I have heard different versions of this, but the procedure I know is: If you get good fortune, you take it with you. If you get bad fortune, you tie it to a nearby treebranch, or a stand with strings like the one in the picture, so that the shrine’s priest can then purify the bad fortune away. And ideally you buy another fortune afterwards.

7. + 8.) Kamakura’s small streets give a nice small-town feel. And I just love the small stores that Japan has in abundance, especially in the towns. Now this last picture is from 2009 again, and the store doesn’t seem to exist anymore. I found the idea of a hat-store named “Skin Head” to be quite hilarious.