Portland, December 3rd, 2013. The Portland Japanese Garden is looking back on a banner anniversary year. On the October 19th 500 guests celebrated the garden’s 50th anniversary at a black-tie gala at the Portland Art Museum. Six of the original Garden directors attended as well as original Garden members and more than 50 guests from Japan. The evening raised over $370,000 for the independent nonprofit. Supporters included Ron Ragen, Lee Ragen, Dede DeJager, Laura Meier, Gwyneth Gamble Booth, Jean Meihoff, and Walt Meihoff.
His Excellency Kenichiro Sasae, Ambassador of Japan to the United States, honored the Garden by speaking with guests about his view of what the Portland Japanese Garden represents. “Someone once said that gardens are a form of autobiography, and I think there is some truth in that. So what does a Japanese garden tell us about the Japanese people? I think it says that we seek peace, harmony, serenity, and that nature is the ideal we seek. And let me add that Portland’s Japanese Garden says something about you, too. It says this is a city that is not afraid to welcome different cultures and peoples and ideas…This, in turn, builds on and promotes understanding between our two nations.”
The Gala Committee included Co-Chairs Jim and Cathy Rudd and Fred and Gail Jubitz, also Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Furusawa, Dorie Vollum, Melissa Babson, Suzanne Millis, Ann Carter, Katherine Frandsen, Rebecca Teasdale, Wayne Quimby, Dede DeJager, Kristin Dozono, Gwyneth Gamble Booth, Douglas Bouland, and Gary Maffei.
CEO Steve Bloom and Board President Gwyneth Gamble Booth acknowledged a long list of people from both near and far for their support for the Garden in addition to the Ambassador, including Arlene Schnitzer; David Jansen, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Don and Margie Olson, Torii Mor Winery; Oregon State Representative Jennifer Williamson; Misako Ito, Director of the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles; the Consul General from Japan in Portland, Hiroshi Furusawa; Masaaki Ito, for Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Kengo Kuma; Teruyo Yanai, Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.; the Vollum Family; Alice Sumida; Chair of the International Advisory Board Carolyn Berry Wilson; and two grandchildren of original Garden designer Professor Takuma Tono. Also recognized were Garden Curator Sadafumi Uchiyama; Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education Diane Durston; Head Gardener Michael Kondo and Director of Garden Operations Cheryl Ching for their years of service; and each of the past Garden Directors.
Guests were greeted by koto music performed by Mitsuki Dazai. Other performances throughout the evening included taiko drumming by Takohachi; singing by Yuki Saori; shamisen by Masahiro Nitta and Tatsuya Hosono, followed by Masahiro Nitta and the Wacocoro Brothers from Japan. Artwork was on display by Anne Crumpacker and a 10’ tall ikebanaarrangement was provided by Phyllis Danielson, President, Ikebana International Chapter 47.
The gala was the culminating event in a year-long celebration of the Garden’s fiftieth anniversary that included programs and events for the community such as the Family Festival in September, the most ambitious art exhibitions in the Garden’s history; the Toko Shinoda, Noguchi and Fukami/Vollum exhibitions , and even a 50th anniversary celebration in Tokyo. Already working toward the next fifty years, the board and administration invite the community to support and celebrate the Portland Japanese Garden’s work to achieve a deeper understanding between the US and Japan.
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The Portland Japanese Garden, founded in 1963, is the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Situated on 5.5 acres in the scenic West Hills of Portland, and featuring five traditional garden styles, the Portland Japanese Garden is open year-round. Programming includes art exhibitions, cultural festivals, lectures, and workshops. For more information, visit japanesegarden.com.