This peaceful place, with its gentle vista of hills and orchards, honors the important role of the Japanese American community in the development of agriculture in the Hood River Valley. This site is particularly significant as it looks out upon lands which the Issei, the first generation Japanese settlers, were instrumental in developing. Inspired by the amazing but little-known gardens created in the stark desolation of the World War II Japanese internment camps, this restful place represents the Hood River community’s desire to recognize in a permanent and public way the grave injustice of the forced relocation of over 500 Japanese adults and their American citizen children from this valley from 1942 to 1946. Little has been written about the significant role of gardens in the life of the internment camps where few outsiders were allowed and cameras were forbidden. However, the spontaneous creation of both ornamental and edible gardens were expressions of ethnic identity and beauty that represented steps toward personal and community healing. For the gardeners, the process offered an unusual measure of freedom in a constricted setting. The gardens allowed them to express their cultural values of hard work and the desire to improve their surroundings, values that the Hood River Japanese community has contributed so productively to the development of this valley for 100 years.
The garden consists of a stone lantern, large spruce tree, and a small water feature as its focal points. A raked gravel area surrounds the spruce tree. The tree plantings include Acer palmatum – Japanese Maple (green); Stewartia pseudocamellia – Japanese Stewartia; Prunus mume – Japanese Plum; Styrax japonica – Japanese Snowbell; and Amelanchier x g Autumn Brilliance – Serviceberry. Shrubs include Azalea ‘Hino Crimson’; Callicarpa dichotoma – Purple beautybush; Ilex crenata ‘Green Lustre’ – Japanese Holly; Corylopsis pauciflora – Buttercup Winter Hazel; Enkianthus campanulatus – ‘Red Vein’ and ‘Showy Lantern’; Enkianthus cernuus – White Enkianthus, Azalea, Paeonia suffruticasa ‘Renkaku’ – Tree Peony; Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ – Japanese Andromeda; Ribes sanguineum – Flowering currant; Taxus cuspidate – Japanese yew; and Ilex crenata – Japanese Holly ‘Sky Pencil’. Perennials and ground covers include: Aquilegia vulgarus ‘Tower Dark Blue’ – Columbine; Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’- Lily Turf; Lycoris radiate – Spider Lily; Ophiopogon japonicas – Mondo Grass; Pachysandra terminalis – Japanese Spurge; and Platycodon grandifloras – Balloon Flower.
This garden is located between the OSU Extension office and Experiment Station at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center. A design plan was completed by Sadafumi Uchiyama, a Japanese garden designer, in Summer of 2007. Grant monies were received from the Hood River Cultural Trust for the garden design. The garden honors the Japanese American community in an ongoing way and provides a cultural opportunity to explore a unique style of gardening that exhibits both spiritual and physical aspects. Groundbreaking was held in the Fall of 2007, sod removal and large stone placements were accomplished in the Winter of 2008, and pathways and a rock wall were built in Spring of 2008. Grant monies from Oregon Master Gardener Association (OMGA), Hood River Cultural Trust, and Hood River Rotary, as well as donations from the community and Central Gorge Master Gardener Association, funded this project. An initial planting was completed in Fall of 2008, and a grant from Hood River Lions Club was received in December 2008 to help fund the remainder of plantings in Spring 2009. Plantings were completed in Spring 2009, and a donor recognition sculpture was completed in Fall 2009. A dedication ceremony was held in Spring 2010.
Please visit “Japanese Heritage Garden in Hood River” in the World Database of Japanese Gardens.