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Proclaimed the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre haven of tranquil beauty nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland, Oregon. Our extraordinary Garden is maintained through admissions, memberships, special gifts, donations and the vital support of our volunteers. We welcome volunteers year-round to join our dynamic volunteer team!

Volunteer Opportunities

There are several different volunteer programs that fall under the “volunteer umbrella” at the Portland Japanese Garden. Each program requires a different level of volunteer experience and commitment. Some programs emphasize opportunities that have shorter commitments, like volunteering for a single festival or event; other programs offer volunteer opportunities that are ongoing and call for a greater volunteer commitment, such as becoming a trained tour guide. Below is a detailed list of our volunteer programs.

Arts & Culture Program

Includes gallery exhibitions, events, lectures, festivals, art shows, and more! This is a great place to try out Garden volunteering. Training for this program usually consists of one brief orientation right before the specific event opens.

Hort Support Program

This hands-on program is perfect for the rugged volunteer who is eager to get their hands dirty. Hort Support is most active in the spring, summer, and fall. Opportunities include weeding, raking, and a variety of other hands-on gardening projects. The program also offers special projects, like ivy pulls, where Hort Support volunteers are recruited to come and work as a group. A mandatory training session is offered each spring and summer by staff gardeners. After training, new volunteers mentor with veteran volunteers and are then encouraged to sign up for regular shifts.

Tour Guide Program

Become a trained Garden Guide and learn to lead tours through the Garden. Guide Training happens once each year and is held every spring. Interested volunteers go through an interview process and commit to an in-depth training and mentorship. This program is a unique opportunity and a wonderful way to deepen your commitment and connection to the Garden community. Please note: we are not currently accepting applications for new volunteer guides. Please consider the other volunteer programs listed on this page to find ways that you can be involved with the Garden.

Office Support Program

In this program, volunteers can either interview for a specialized internship, or they can sign up to be recruited for special projects such as mailings, booklet construction, etc. Internships and office projects are offered as needed.

Haiku Alive! School Program

Join us in our newest efforts to engage underserved youth in the Portland area. Haiku Alive Volunteers work alongside Garden staff during the school year and engage underserved populations of grade school kids in learning about the Garden through writing Haiku poetry. After spring school visits, volunteers then lead students around the Garden on photo excursions where children are given the opportunity to learn about photography as inspiration for creating Haiku. At the end of the school year the students’ haiku and photos are collected in a final project.

Why should I consider volunteering?

Volunteering at the Garden is a way to build community, gain knowledge of Japanese culture, have new and exciting experiences, and have fun! Garden volunteers are a crucial link between the public and the Garden, and allow our small non-profit organization to thrive.

How do I become a Garden volunteer?

Complete our online application form.

How do I sign up for shifts if I am already a volunteer?

There are a couple of ways to sign up for volunteer shifts. Once your application has been processed and you have received an e-mail with your volunteer login name and password, you can sign up for your assignments using our convenient on-line sign-up system. Or, if you would rather not sign up on-line, you can contact our volunteer coordinator.

Active volunteers can sign up for a volunteer shift online by clicking here.

For more information about volunteering, please contact the Tour and Volunteer Coordinator, at (503) 223-9233 or

Volunteering Request Form

From helping at events to becoming a Tour Guide—and everything in between, our volunteers are an integral part of our team and we couldn’t run the Garden without them! Whether you have an occasional couple of hours or regular amounts of time you can spend with us, the Garden offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for all our members.

Simply fill in your name and contact information and check your areas of interest. We will enter your information into our volunteer database and contact you when opportunities arise that might be of interest to you.

If you prefer, you may also print out the Volunteer Application below and deliver it to Tour/Volunteer Coordinator at the Garden.

Click here to view the volunteer request form.