A Day Away with Sadafumi Uchiyama: Portland's Chinese and Japanese Gardens

Saturday, April 13th 9:00am - 7:15pm
Sentinel Hotel Portland
614 SW 11th Ave
Portland, OR 97205

Meet the Center in Portland, Oregon


Organized in Collaboration with the Alumni Offices of Cranbrook Schools and Cranbrook Academy of Art

(Includes a $250/person tax-deductible donation to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research)

    Photo of the Lan Su Garden Teahouse

    The participation fee includes transportation on Saturday, garden admission fees, brunch, and Cranbrook Reception. Travel to and from Portland, hotel accommodations, and Saturday breakfast and dinner are not included.

    Portland’s Sentinel Hotel will serve as Cranbrook’s home away from home for the weekend. Accommodations at the Sentinel Hotel, or a hotel of your choice, are not included in the participation fee and must be booked and paid separately by the participants.

      Tour Hosts

      • Gregory Wittkopp, Director, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research
      • Amy Klein, Director of Development, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research

      Guest Expert

      • Sadafumi Uchiyama, Curator Emeritus, Portland Japanese Garden, and Master Plan Designer, Cranbrook Japanese Garden
      • Venus Sun, Vice President of Culture and Community, Lan Su Chinese Garden
      • Josie Losh, Curator of Horticulture, Lan Su Chinese Garden
      Photograph of Sadafumi Uchiyama in the Portland Japanese Garden

      Join Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research in Portland as we explore two world-class gardens: Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden. Our guide for the day will be Sadafumi Uchiyama, who for the past six years has been working with the Center to design and plan the rejuvenation of the Cranbrook Japanese Garden. Sada, as he is known to us at Cranbrook, will not only guide us through the Portland Japanese Garden, where he recently retired as the Chief Curator and Director of the International Japanese Garden Training Center, but also offer his reflections on Portland’s Chinese Garden, comparing these two time-honored Asian garden traditions. As memorable food and drink are integral to all Center experiences, it goes without saying that the trip will include a Saturday brunch that is sure to please the foodies in the group.

      Photo of the Portland Japanese Garden by James Florio.

      This Day Away is being organized in collaboration with the Alumni Offices of Cranbrook Schools and Cranbrook Academy of Art and coincides with their Portland “Meet and Greet” hosted by Cranbrook Trustee and Cranbrook School for Boys alumnus Chase Brand (Class of 1979). The Cranbrook Reception, which will warmly include all Center Day Away participants, takes place at Breakside Brewery where Ben Edmunds (Cranbrook Schools Class of 2000) is the brewmaster (and co-founder and co-owner). The Reception will not only be an opportunity to continue the conversation with Sadafumi Uchiyama and Center Director Gregory Wittkopp, but also an opportunity to meet with Cranbrook Schools Director Jeff Suzik.

      The home base for Cranbrook’s exploration of Portland and its gardens will be the luxurious, four-star Sentinel Hotel. Located in Portland’s vibrant West End, at the corner of SW 11th Avenue and Alder Street, the historic Sentinel is just steps away from eclectic boutiques and independent shops that sport a range of high-end local designs, as well as houseware and handcrafted goods. The Sentinel’s culinary scene offers a delightful array of tastes including steak and seafood at local favorite Jake's Grill, exclusive wine flights—including those of Oregon’s legendary vineyards—in Domaine Serene Wine Lounge, and an innovative all-vegan menu with creative dishes and drinks at Fortune. For more information and reservations, visit SentinelHotel.com. 

      To ensure that we have behind-the-scenes access to both the Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden, this guided tour is strictly limited to 25 participants.


      Lan Su Chinese Garden
      Lan Su Chinese Garden is one the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China, an oasis of tranquil beauty and harmony created to develop appreciation of a richly authentic Chinese culture. Opened in 2000, the garden is the result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, Portland’s sister city in China's Jiangsu province that is famous for its beautiful Ming dynasty gardens. Ensuring its authenticity, Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou.

      The garden's name, Lan Su, represents this special Chinese American relationship. Sounds from both Portland and Suzhou are combined to form Lan Su. "Lan" (蘭 ) not only echoes the second syllable of Portland but also is the Chinese word for "Orchid"; "Su" (蘇) is the Chinese word for "Arise" or "Awaken." In the combination, the garden's name can be interpreted poetically as "Garden of Awakening Orchids" (蘭蘇園). 

      Much more than just a beautiful botanical garden, Lan Su is a creative wonder—a powerfully inspiring experience based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition that melds art, history, architecture, design, and nature in perfect harmony. Offering a recently restored teahouse and more than 500 cultural and botanical programs each year, Lan Su is a window into authentic Chinese culture and a platform for the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. 

      Photograph of Lan Su Garden

      Portland Japanese Garden
      The Portland Japanese Garden sits nestled in Oregon’s iconic Washington Park, overlooking the city and providing a tranquil, urban oasis for locals and travelers alike. Designed in 1963 and opened in 1968, the garden encompasses twelve acres with eight separate garden styles, and includes an authentic Japanese tea house, meandering streams, intimate walkways, a new Cultural Village, and a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. This is a place to discard worldly thoughts and concerns and see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe.

      Flat Garden and Pavilion from Beneath the Weeping Cherry. Photo by Jonathan Ley

      Conceived in the years following World War II as a place that could provide the citizens of Portland with a garden of great beauty and serenity, while forging a healing connection to Japan, the site was dedicated in 1961 and Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo was retained to design the garden. Professor Tono’s original plan, which included five different garden styles, was a departure from gardens in Japan which typically follow one singular style. His intention was to represent different historical developments in Japanese garden architecture and through them communicate Japanese culture to create a cultural exchange.

      In 1968, the Kashintei Tea House was constructed in Japan, shipped in pieces, and reassembled in the Garden. Other structures were added as the five gardens evolved, including the 1980 Pavilion Gallery, which sits at the heart of the Flat Garden. In 2015, the Portland Japanese Garden partnered with world-renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma to create the new Cultural Village, which opened in 2017 and features three new structures.

      Throughout the Garden’s history, it has been acclaimed by numerous visiting Japanese ambassadors and dignitaries as one of the most beautiful and authentic Japanese gardens in the world outside of the island nation, as well as one of the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in North America.

      Photograph of the Portland Japanese Garden, May 2017, by Mike Centioli.


      Saturday, April 13, 2024

      9:00am (Pacific Daylight Time)
      Meet in the Lobby of the Sentinel Hotel

      Depart for the Lan Su Chinese Garden

      9:30 – 11:00am
      Private Tour of Lan Su Chinese Garden and Teahouse Led by Venus Sun and Josie Losh

      Depart for Brunch

      11:15am – 12:45pm
      Saturday Brunch

      Depart for Portland Japanese Garden

      Arrive at Portland Japanese Garden Welcome Center

      1:15 – 2:45pm
      Private Tour of the Portland Japanese Garden Led by Sadafumi Uchiyama

      2:45 – 4:00pm
      Time to Explore the Portland Japanese Garden on Your Own, including the Art Exhibitions in the Pavilion Gallery and Refreshments in the Umami Café 

      4:00 – 4:30pm
      Concluding Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Cultural Village Led by Sadafumi Uchiyama

      Depart from the Portland Japanese Garden Welcome Center for Breakside Brewery

      5:00 – 7:00pm
      Cranbrook Reception at Breakside Brewery (NW Slabtown Location)
      Remarks at 6:00pm

      Depart for Sentinel Hotel

      Center Tour Concludes at Sentinel Hotel
      Dinner on Your Own


      • The $500/person participation fee includes a required $250/person donation to Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research.
      • Tour reservation is guaranteed with payment of the $500 participation fee.
      • The participation fee does not include travel to and from Portland, hotel accommodations, and breakfast and dinner on Saturday.
      • The tour does not include any planned activities or tours on Friday or Sunday, April 12 or 14, 2024.
      • Participants must reserve and pay separately for their room at the Sentinel, or at another hotel of their choice.
      • The Sentinel Hotel room is subject to the Sentinel’s policies and regulations, including all applicable cancellation fees and penalties.
      • The Cranbrook Center does not guarantee the availability of rooms at the Sentinel Hotel.
      • Participants may stay at another hotel of their choice. However, the Saturday tour will start and end at the Sentinel Hotel.
      • The Cranbrook Center will do its best to convey all dietary restrictions to the Saturday brunch restaurant.
      • The exact Saturday tour schedule, including the restaurant, is subject to change and refinement.

      For additional information, please contact Amy Klein, Center Director of Development, at 248.645.3215 or aklein@cranbrook.edu, or Greg Wittkopp, Center Director, at 248.645.3315 or gwittkopp@cranbrook.edu

      Photo Credits (From Top to Bottom)
      Portland Japanese Garden, Flat Garden and Pavilion Gallery from Beneath the Weeping Cherry; Photography by Jonathan Ley. Courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

      Lan Su Chinese Garden, Teahouse. Courtesy the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

      Portland Japanese Garden, Sadafumi Uchiyama. Courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

      Portland Japanese Garden, Entry Garden, Designed by Sadafumi Uchiyama, and Cultural Village, Designed by Kengo Kuma (Architect); Photography by James Florio. Courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

      Lan Su Chinese Garden. Courtesy the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

      Portland Japanese Garden, Flat Garden and Pavilion Gallery from Beneath the Weeping Cherry; Photography by Jonathan Ley. Courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

      Portland Japanese Garden, Zig Zag Bridge; Photography by Mike Centiolo. Courtesy the Portland Japanese Garden.

      Registration for this event has closed.