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Did You Know Your Flowers Came from Japan? New Portland Japanese Garden Exhibition Illuminates the Origin of the Plants Around Us

PORTLAND, Ore. —May 6, 2022— As the Pacific Northwest moves from spring into summer, its landscape becomes decorated with the joyous colors of irises, wisteria, azaleas, and rhododendrons. These flowers have become so deeply woven into the gardens, parks, and yards of Oregon that one may not realize many are actually Japanese in origin. Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art, a new art exhibition at Portland Japanese Garden explores how these beloved plants voyaged across an ocean to establish new roots in the United States.

Mieko Ishikawa, "Yama-zakura” Cerasus jamasakura, 2017, watercolor on paper.
Mieko Ishikawa, “Yama-zakura” Cerasus jamasakura, 2017, watercolor on paper.

Gifts from Japan is a multifaceted experience that features richly captured and scientifically accurate botanical illustrations from leading artists based in Japan and the United States. Among the botanical illustrations on display in the Pavilion Gallery is “Yama-zakura” Cerasus jamasakura, a 2017 work done in watercolor by Mieko Ishikawa. Ishikawa recently was named the first recipient of The Shirley Sherwood Award for Botanical Art and is considered the most prominent botanical artist in Japan. Her internationally acclaimed art is in collections around the world, including Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Flower Museum, Chiba. “Yama-zakura” demonstrates Ishikawa’s affinity and expert-level knowledge of cherry blossoms, one the central themes of her work.

The exhibition also showcases historical artifacts that reveal the story of Japanese flora and the people who shared them with the world. Guests will be able to see catalogs from Yokohama Nursery, a company whose legacy includes Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry trees, early 20th century postcards depicting Japanese garden designs that enchanted the Western world, and shell corsages of blossoms, buds, and leaves made by wrongfully imprisoned Japanese Americans of the Minidoka and Topaz concentration camps during World War II.

Women working in Greenhouse, Seattle, WA. Courtesy of the Kumasaka Family Collection.
Women working in Greenhouse, Seattle, WA. Courtesy of the Kumasaka Family Collection.

Gifts from Japan: A Horticultural Tale Told through Botanical Art, opens Saturday, May 14 and runs through Monday, July 4. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens is this exhibition’s co-organizer.


Info on the Exhibition:
  • Opens Saturday, May 14 and runs through Monday, July 4 during Garden hours  
  • Included with Garden admission
  • Locations:
    • The Tanabe Gallery in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center
    • The Pavilion Gallery, located in the Flat Garden
  • More information about the exhibition can be found here
Digital Assets:

Digital Assets can be found here

Portland Japanese Garden Hours and Admission: 
Media Contact:    

Will Lerner | 503-542-9351 | [email protected]

About Portland Japanese Garden:  

Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization originally founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II. A hallmark in the City of Portland, the Garden was founded on the ideals of peace and mutual understanding between peoples and cultures. Portland Japanese Garden is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and the foremost Japanese cultural organization in North America.