In 2013, two nearly identical beams of a sacred Shinto gate landed on the Oregon coast after having been tragically washed away in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. After traveling 5,000 miles across the Pacific, incredibly, these two crossbeams — known as kasagi — landed within 120 miles of each other less than one month apart. Virtually unidentifiable, they could have been abandoned, forgotten, and lost forever. Instead, the quest to return the two battered pieces of wood slowly brought people together from across the globe in a message of support for the people of Japan. What unfolds is the story of what connects us as humans: life, loss, perseverance, hope – and restoration. With support from its board, community, and partners far and wide, the Portland Japanese Garden led the effort to find the kasagis’ rightful home and ensure the sacred pieces’ safe return.
Come join Garden Curator Sadafumi Uchiyama and Board of Trustees President Dorie Vollum as they recount this transformative story – one that starts with an astonishing chance discovery, and becomes an enduring connection between communities that transcends language, geography, and time.