Portland Japanese Garden

Portland, OR
Designed for Harmony and Understanding

Knot’s wayfinding and donor recognition program for the Portland Japanese Garden deftly complements a modern expansion of the historic treasure.


An architectural and cultural gem, Portland’s Japanese Garden draws thousands of visitors each year from near and far. For Knot, the expansion of this beloved Northwest institution presented an opportunity to demonstrate how a wayfinding program can perfectly complement an overall design. After a half-century, the Japanese Garden received a major expansion that added 3 1/2 acres to the existing 9-acre site. 


Working with architects Kengo Kuma & Associates and Hacker, Knot designers developed an interior and exterior wayfinding sign program, as well as donor recognition. The expansion included a new Village House, new Garden House, Village Plaza, cabana garden, terraced garden, access gate, ticketing pavilion and Bonsai Greenhouse. Custom signs were developed in tandem with the architectural details and interior finishes. Larger sign structures use hidden fasteners to appear weightless. Knot’s design focused on the highest level of craftsmanship, infused with traditional Japanese design. 


Widely considered as the most authentic Japanese garden outside Japan, the garden required a design response that showed reverence to centuries-old Japanese traditions. Knot’s wayfinding signage provides a critical role in the expansion — as visitors now can experience an even more immersive cultural experience through educational activities. With Knot’s help, the Portland Japanese Garden has expanded to serve visitors’ needs in the 21st century, while carefully respecting traditional design cues from its inspirational homeland.

12.5 Acres
Portland Japanese Garden
Hacker Architects & Kengo Kuma