Zen in Portland’s Japanese Garden: Natural Prescription to Lower Blood Pressure

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When physicians advise patients to lower their blood pressure, perhaps that prescription should include a visit to Portland’s Japanese Garden. After taking only a few steps inside the gates, a sense of calm begins to wash over me.

This exquisite garden perched above the city is in fact five separate gardens: Sand and Stone, Tea, Strolling Pond, Natural and Flat. Each one flows gracefully into the next, taking full advantage of the natural terrain. Visitors meander through the immaculate grounds. Many have a contemplative look as they cross the wooden bridge to admire the azaleas and wild iris. And we all are mesmerized by the waterfall or shishi-odoshi, a bamboo fountain that gently rocks back and forth as it fills and empties.

One of the most serene views is from the pavilion’s veranda overlooking the Flat Garden. There, pristine white rocks are expertly raked into perfect patterns and set against a lush backdrop. Conversations become whispers. Tranquility. Just what the doctor ordered.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, you may also enjoy three other stories about the beauty of Portland's Washington Park, her Vietnam Memorial and Arboretum. We also invite you to check out the books in our series.