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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Strolling the Portland Japanese Garden

Hey peeps. I planned to post something different today, but then things happened and I decided to move up my post for the Japanese Garden. Why? Because I've been listening to my AAPI community and what's happening in our country is appalling. I just happened to plan our trip to the garden right after the horrendous tragedy that happened in Atlanta where 8 people were killed, 6 of which were Asian-Americans.

The Portland Japanese Garden is a lovely respite from everything in life, overlooking the city.

This was a hate crime, pure and simple, no matter how the media wants to frame it. A white guy having a "bad day" is no excuse for murder. I've had lots of bad days, but I have never bought a gun to take out my frustrations. Like a rational human being, I eat garbage food and cry while I watch bad TV. Other normal people go running, or call a friend, or even play video games. 

If you've been following me for the last year or so, you know how much I care about civil rights and being anti-racist. You also probably know that I have Japanese heritage and I travel not just to have fun and try new food, but to immerse myself in new cultures and learn more about the world and people in general. I don't tolerate racism and I try very hard to understand ways I might be contributing to the oppression of POC and how I can change the way I act and live to grow as a person. 

As someone who just looks white, it's difficult to have conversations with other people in the AAPI community without seeming like an outsider. And while I have not faced the horrific racism that many of them have, I have seen this racism and discrimination surrounding my father and his family for having a different color skin. 

The Portland Japanese Garden is a lovely respite from everything in life, overlooking the city. I feel bad for not visiting more often. In fact, I visited twice when I first moved to Oregon (in the mid-90s) and haven't gone back since. The variety of greens are meant to be soothing and it really works. Though there are so many things happening in the world right now, it allowed me to just walk and relax and focus on the calm around me. 

I booked the first admission of the day, and while there were more people than I anticipated, it was easy to take a step away for a moment and find yourself alone again. Almost all my photos only have nature in them, or just the two of us. Normally, this isn't possible. 

Even though it wasn't warm or sunny out, the mix of plants, trees, water features, and many steps can really take your mind off things and/or give you time to reflect on life or nature. We've also been talking about a trip to Japan in the near future that this gave us some inspiration for such a trip. 

Japanese tea house

This tea house was so sweet and quaint and made me remember just how small many Japanese are, myself included. I joked with Eric that he was going to feel so uncomfortable and like a giant when we visit, especially if things are comparable size-wise to their little shelters, delicate structures, and this tea house. 

When you stroll through the garden, it's sort of impossible to think of anything about Japan and its people besides the beauty of it. There's brilliance in every bridge, stone step, and other structure. 

This zig zag bridge is one of my favorite things. It's so close to the water, it feels like part of nature, the barrier doesn't obstruct your view of the rocks and fish, and it made me feel kind of tall. 

As you can see there weren't any people on the bridge or surrounding area when we arrived. We did stand off to the side while I took some photos and let people go ahead. There were probably 10 or 12 other people there when the above picture was taken, and a lot of those people hung out for quite a while near the water, because it was really chill and gorgeous.

How are there even people who see things like this and hate on people who build such things? I have never understood racism, but I understand it even less when I visit countries and see the way people live and then come home and see the same people holding on to traditions and foods and way of life. These differences make our country great and interesting made it what it is today. It's the white supremacy that ruins it for all of us, whether you're aware of it happening or not. And if you don't believe that, even after reading my views on the police brutality, voting rights, and the ongoing BLM protests, then I'm not sure what you're even doing here.

If you want to support the AAPI community more than you already do, here are some great resources for educating yourself, being a better ally, where to donate, how to get involved, and more. At the very least, check out your local Asian grocery store or pick up something at the Asian-owned coffee shop or restaurant you love and tip well. You'll enjoy it that much more.

Before I go, I want to leave off on a lighter note regarding travel. I know more and more people are getting vaccinated, and we'll all be eligible sooner than we anticipated, but we still need to remain safe. There are still no travel advisories, because we need to remember that not everyone is vaccinated and not everything is open either. In light of that, I am still focusing on socially-distant, responsible, mostly-outdoor travel. Because of that, you'll still see photos of me wearing a mask, doing more things like the Chinese Garden and the Japanese Garden and staycations and street art, and road trips until travel restrictions have officially eased. If nothing else, most outdoor landmarks are in parks and are totally free. I'll be posting more outdoor shots on my Instagram account as well, too.

What is one of your favorite things you've done while in quarantine? Have you found something cool in your city that you didn't know about before?

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