I had a super fun day in downtown Portland at the Japanese Memorial Garden Plaza this week. The Cherry Blossoms trees were in full bloom and it was magic to see such a beautiful gesture of mother nature, and feel the gentle breeze carrying the delicate petals away like butterflies dancing on the wind. Not only I had the honor to photograph another fellow photographer, but getting to know this sweet and talented woman and show her inner beauty thought my lenses was such a beautiful experience. The location is super beautiful, but the history behind the garden is very powerful.

Portland have the most spectacular floral displays at spring time. The 100 blooming, Akebono cherry trees lining the north end of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Their beautiful double pink blossoms form a brilliant floral canopy, and are a welcome harbinger of spring, marking the end of a long, gray winter. While waiting and scooping the location for my photographs, I decided to learn about the history of this place.

The trees, planted in two parallel rows, were a gift to the city from the Japanese Grain Importers Association and decorate the waterfront side of the Japanese American Historical Plaza. On the west bank of the Willamette River, between the Burnside and Steel bridges, stretches a 100-year story. Through poems engraved in granite stones, it chronicles decades of hard work, injustice, new beginnings and, finally, hope. During the spring and summer of 1942, over 110,000 people of Japanese descent from nearly all parts of California, Oregon, and Washington, were ordered to leave their homes, uproot their lives, and submit to imprisonment — without a specific charge, and without a trial.

At the Japanese American Historical Plaza, this time of tragedy and loss is remembered at the break in the stone wall, behind the boulders at the center of the plaza. Although the period of forced removal and incarceration is painful to remember, a growing number of Americans have come forward to ensure that important lessons learned from the past are not forgotten, and that the mistakes that weakened the Constitution and the entire nation are not repeated. Learning abou the past, is the best way to understand how fortunate we are and to prevent things like this to happen again.

Photography: Corina Silva Studios / Model: Viktoriya Bogdanova / Flower bouquet: Corina Silva Decor / Location: Portland Japanese American Historical Plaza

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