Portland Japanese Garden.
Friday, Aug. 5 2011

PORTLAND, OR — Even if you’re an adult, I recommend the children’s treasure hunt at the Japanese Garden, not so much for the coloring map or the prize at the end (it’s a bookmark), but because it forces one to take a closer look at the surroundings.

The garden, nestled into the hillside of Portland’s Washington Park, has five different styles sprinkled with statues, stone lanterns and fountains. There is so much beauty, it’s easy to miss the subtle details.

A small statue of a jizo (Japanese protective spirit) guards the entrance to the zen garden. I walked right past the guy, carved into a foot-tall moss-covered stone, but the kids found it. It was on the scavenger hunt list.

That was the morning. After a microwave lunch at the hotel, it was off to Mollala to go geocaching with the cousins.

More photos at our gallery.