Portland Japanese Garden brings in the New Year with tea ceremony and dance

More than 1,000 people braved strong winds and rain at the Portland Japanese Garden on Sunday to recognize and celebrate the New Year in Japan with a traditional event.

This garden is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the world and is not only a tourist attraction, but also a center of Japanese culture and tradition, a perfect place to celebrate the Japanese New Year. In 1959, the Portland City Council decided to convert the abandoned Washington Park Zoo grounds into a Japanese garden. After that, the Japanese Garden Committee was held and the garden was opened in 1967.

Sunday’s celebration was quiet and festive. Visitors strolled through the gardens, participated in the first tea ceremony, an important and introspective moment that sets the mood for the New Year, discovered the art of Japanese brush painting, and learned the techniques necessary to draw a rabbit. In honor of 2023, known as the Year of the Rabbit.

The highlight of the day was the most eye-catching performance of the lion dance, a tradition common in many countries in East and Southeast Asia. It is danced to ward off evil spirits. Hidden beneath colorful cloth, dancers circle and dance around the crowd, manipulating the mouths of elaborate masks. Legend has it that if a lion gently bites a person’s hand while playing, that person will be blessed with good luck for the year.

Joanna Taffe of Portland took her two children, Max, 6, and Eleanore, 3, to see the dance.

“My school has a Japanese teacher,” he said. “She teaches us Japanese and how to count. I like learning about different cultures. It’s fun to come here.”

Both adults and children reached out when the dragon appeared. As the dragon approached Max Tough, the boy held out his hand in the hope that he would be chosen.

there was him

he smiled.

— Tom Holman Jr.

503-221-8224; thallman@oregonian.com; @thallmanjr

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