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Management Profiles

Stephen D. Bloom

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Executive Officer of the Portland Japanese Garden since 2005, Steve Bloom’s background and experience lies in dynamic management and stewardship of diverse, complex, and exceptional non-profit organizations. Steve was a 2008-09 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow in Japan, sponsored by Hitachi, Ltd. and concurrently served as Visiting Scholar at Tokyo University of Agriculture. Most recently he served as President of the Honolulu Symphony (2000-2005) and prior to Honolulu, showed early success at the age of 27 when he served as Executive Director of the Tacoma Symphony (1996-2000).

Steve received his Bachelor’s degree in Music Education in 1991 from the State University of New York’s Crane School of Music, and in 2003 was a recipient of a Social Innovation Fellowship to attend the Stanford University Graduate School of Business executive education program on non-profit management. He currently serves as a member of the Friends of the US–Japan Council in Washington D.C., Vice Chair of the Japan America Society of Oregon, Vice President of the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association, Treasurer of the Omamuki Foundation in New York City, and has served as founding President of the North American Japanese Garden Association Board of Directors, on the Board of Regents of Chaminade University Honolulu, as the President of the Washington State Arts Alliance, and as the Chairman of the Washington Park Alliance.

In 2015, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced it was awarding the Foreign Minister’s Commendations in Honor of the 70th anniversary of the End of World War II. The award was given to individuals and groups with outstanding achievements in the promotion of friendship between Japan and the United States. Stephen Bloom was awarded this prestigious recognition along with only 27 other individuals.

Steve was also the recipient of the 2013 Oregon Heritage Tourism Award given at the statewide Governor’s Conference on Tourism. In 2004, Steve was the recipient of the Pacific Business News “Forty under 40” award, recognizing young business leadership, and received a commendation from Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle for community service. Other professional positions have included employment with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Sacramento Symphony.


Sadafumi Uchiyama

Garden Curator

Sadafumi Uchiyama, the Garden Curator of the Portland Japanese Garden, is a third-generation Japanese gardener. His family has been involved in gardening since 1909 in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. His training started at a very early age, first under his grandfather, father, and uncles, and later with his older brother. Since his arrival in the US in 1988, Uchiyama received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois, graduating with high honors.

Traditional apprentice in Japanese gardening combined with the formal training in Western landscape architecture has allowed Uchiyama to design and build a unique and wide range of private and public landscape projects. Two of his representative projects include the renovation of Osaka Garden (the Japanese Government exhibition site at the 1893 Columbia Exposition) at Jackson Park in Chicago and the renovation of Shofu-en Garden at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Prior to becoming the Garden’s Curator, Uchiyama taught landscape design courses at Clackamas Community College and lectured on Japanese gardening at both Mt. Hood and Portland Community Colleges. Since the beginning of its publication, he has contributed to theJournal of Japanese Gardening. His writings have also appeared in Inspired House and locally in Oregon Home.



Diane Durston

The Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education

Diane Durston is a writer, lecturer, and educator. Her work as the Arlene Schnitzer Curator of Culture, Art & Education at the Portland Japanese Garden has been instrumental in expanding the Garden’s reputation as a center of cultural learning and an international resource for all things Japanese.

Durston is perhaps best known internationally as the author of three books and numerous essays and articles on Kyoto, where she lived for eighteen years. Her book Old Kyoto, first published in 1986, is now in a second edition and 15th printing. The New York Times has referred to it as a “Japan travel classic.” Her other books include Kyoto: Seven Paths to the Heart of the City, an introduction to seven historic neighborhoods in Kyoto. Her most recent book, Wabi Sabi: The Art of Everyday Life was published in 2006. Durston has lectured widely in Japan, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

With 18 years in Japan, Durston is fluent in Japanese. During her early days in Kyoto she studied Japanese art and language and went on to develop on-site cultural programs introducing Japanese art, culture, religion, history, and gardens to such organizations as the University of Pennsylvania, the Whitney Museum, the Yale Galleries, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For over a decade, she served as Director of Asian Cultural Programs for The International Forum, the top executive education program of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. As part of her work with The International Forum, Durston developed annual cultural seminars in both Kyoto and Shanghai.

Since returning to the US in 1996, Durston has served as a consultant to a number of organizations, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, where she produced two separate month-long performing arts festivals in conjunction with the openings of the special exhibitions “Edo: Art in Japan 1615–1868″ in 1998 and of “Golden Age of Archeology in China” in 1999. From 2002–2006, Durston was Director of Special Projects and later Curator of Education at the Portland Art Museum.

Since coming to the Portland Japanese Garden in 2007, Durston has used her extensive background in Japanese art and culture to develop the Garden’s seasonal Art in the Garden series—hosting exhibitions of Japanese glass, ceramics, bamboo, metal, and more. In her role as educator, Durston developed a program for K-12 teachers with workshops and teaching materials designed to focus on the Garden as a resource for teaching social studies, science, and art. Expanded cultural events at the Garden have also been a major part of Durston’s contribution to the Garden’s increasing success.