Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom addresses the crowd at a special ceremony commemorating the renovation of the new Japan Institute buildings. Behind him are Oregon Sate Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, left, and  U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

Portland Japanese Garden CEO Steve Bloom addresses the crowd at a special ceremony commemorating the renovation of the new Japan Institute buildings. Behind him are Oregon Sate Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, left, and U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

Steven Tonthat / OPB

In 2021, Portland Japanese Garden established the Japan Institute to advance their mission of continued cultural connections between the United States and Japan through art, nature and cultural diplomacy.

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The Japan Institute is currently divided into three centers: Global Center for Culture and Art, International Exchange Forum, and the International Japanese Garden Training Center.

Soon, the Japan Institute will have a new space to call home.

The Portland Japanese Garden is converting a series of buildings that once belonged to the Salvation Army into a new headquarters for the Japan Institute.

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Located just three miles from the Garden, the $25-million project will update the currently empty buildings to include a main hall, cottages, and large spaces for artists from around the world to come create their works.

“We will have eight or nine different art studios where artists from Japan will come and then artists from all over the world and all over the country and local artists will be able to collaborate and, and learn from these amazing artists,” said Steve Bloom, CEO of the Portland Japanese Garden.

At an official ceremony on Thursday to commemorate the new space, Bloom said the Institute will play a vital role in bridging cultural divides.

“I think it’s gonna be a place of coming together in the meeting of minds and of creativity and collaboration, and that’s what the world needs right now.”

Megumi Kato, Portland Japanese Garden’s Marketing Director, said that she appreciates having the Japanese Institute as a place where people can come and learn about Japanese art and culture in a safe space.

“I want to help promote more peace in our community of Asian people,” she said, “For a place like this to be in our community and locally accessible, it allows us to enrich our understanding of others and other cultures and our own culture in some ways, too.”

Renovations are expected to finish in 2024.

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