SLOW DOWN AT THE JAPANESE GARDEN
"Mama, look through there" and when I did, this is what I saw... one of the most beautiful trees-a very mature Japanese Maple.
When we slow down we see the beauty around us, beauty in nature, in our loved ones, and in the moment. For years now I’ve been saying over and over to myself, “slow down”, “take in this moment” and “this is a precious moment”. Soak them in and as you do, the moments turn into months and years and if you feel you are living in the moment and living slow enough to listen to your spirit guide, those years become your entire life. Your guide could be your child, your health, someone or something telling you to “slow down” and “look through here”… don’t forget to listen. Beautiful sights are everywhere and precious moments happen daily.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Getting to the Portland Japanese Garden is pretty simple. It's on the west side of the city near Washington Park and the International Rose Test Garden. There is paid parking which can be difficult to find so know in advance there will be some patience involved. Some other tips and things to know before you go are:
- Eat before you go and pack a snack and water bottles for the way home. They do have a cafe that recommends reservations if you are staying for a meal.
- Kids 5 and under are free- They want your kids to enjoy the beauty, too!
- Pack light strollers (like this convenience stroller) because there are many stairs near the entry. Don't let this discourage you! It's totally doable and once you're in, it's mostly flat and smooth. There are a couple of areas with small gravel which can also be challenging with wheels but still ok. Apparently there is a place to park strollers but we didn't see it on our visit. Do not try a double stroller unless you take the shuttle!
- There is a shuttle to the top if that would be a good option for you. We just walked it.
- Pep talk on the way- One thing I've been doing since I was teaching kindergarten is to do a pep talk on the way to important events and places. For the Japanese Garden, I told the kids it was a very peaceful and quiet place to connect with nature. It's not a playground, it's a place to walk and enjoy the beauty. We discussed expectations, no running (so hard when we're outside but they did it!), no yelling (some people are quietly meditating), listening to us at all times, staying together and if they weren't keeping the outing fun, for all of us, we might not be able to come back again, soon. Having this chat worked wonders and to just have a quick but serious talk about the expectations for the outing beforehand makes it more fun for everyone. It helps when there is family communication and everyone is on the same page from the beginning.
FOR THE KIDS
A few favorite things for us were:
- A scavenger hunt coloring page to discover and reflect after
- Crane statues
- Lion dog statues
- Many lanterns like the one pictured above
- Koi fish (our kids' favorite part-they're huge!)
Do not leave unless you have seen:
- The Waterfalls- it's truly breathtaking
- The tea house
- The art museum
- The koi fish and zig zag bridge
- The moonbridge
- Japanese maple trees and other plants
- Bonsai, old growth ornamentals
Did you ever wonder what a five hundred year old plant looks like? This Juniper is in the bonsai area and is more than five hundred years old. It's hard to even believe!
Slow down and make sure to notice as many plants and trees as possible! There are so many unique and old varieties. Check out this horsetail and this 500 year old juniper!
"This is a place to let go of worldly thoughts and concerns and see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe." -Portland Japanese Garden Website
"Mama, look through there."
GREAT BOOKS FOR TEACHING PATIENCE AND SLOWING DOWN
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All six twins, taking in the waterfall.
This post includes affiliate links which just means that YFK receives a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. These links are only for products that I have used and highly recommend. Thank you for supporting YFK and reading Slow Down at the Japanese Garden. I hope that you have enjoyed this post and learned from it! I hope you are able to enjoy this kidventure with your children or students with warmth in your heart and a smile on your face. Sharing nature with kids is a huge passion of mine. The more kids are outside, the better the world will be. Please join the newsletter for more activities, book lists, poses and more.