2023 / Portland Japanese Garden and its sibling organization hire Misako Ito as Executive Director in new Tokyo Office

New Tokyo office Executive Director Misako Ito (center in photo) with Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute colleagues at the Garden’s 60th Anniversary Gala in Tokyo. Photo by Ken Katsurayama. (Courtesy of Portland Japanese Garden)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Aug. 1, 2023 – Portland Japanese Garden and its sibling organization, Japan Institute have announced the appointment of Misako Ito as the new Executive Director of the organizations’ newly established Japan Office in Tokyo.

In 2022, the Garden and Institute established its permanent, year-round presence in Japan at the International House of Japan, commonly referred to as I-House. This exciting endeavor will afford the organizations better opportunities to collaborate with its partners in Japan.

Ito, former Director of Japan Foundation Los Angeles from March 2011 to March 2014, is responsible for establishing a networking framework that will maintain, strengthen, and add connections between Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute with organizations and individuals in Japan.

She will also support Japan Institute’s three programmatic centers: the International Exchange Forum, International Japanese Garden Training Center, and Global Center for Culture & Art.

Japan Institute offers international programming that is made possible through global partnerships. With many of these conversations and planning happening in Japan, the organization needed to create a home base in the country, and to find a leader who could help foster existing and new relationships.

Ito was born and raised in Japan and studied at the Australian National University in Canberra and Tsuda University in Tokyo.

Prior to joining the Garden, she held multiple positions with Japan Foundation and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which included posts in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Singapore.

Ito’s most recent position was as Secretary General for the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchanges (CULCON) at the Japan Foundation.

Her rich experience of launching grassroots, community-based exchange programs and establishing networks of intellectual exchanges and international relations have made Ito a widely respected leader in cultural diplomacy.

Misako Ito, Executive Director of Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute’s Tokyo Office remarks:

“I am very excited to join Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute and to work toward the mission of inspiring harmony and peace. Japanese gardens offer the opportunity to enter a peaceful state of mind and soul, something critically needed for all people in this modern world. I want to help grow Portland Japanese Garden’s standing as one of the world’s foremost Japanese cultural organizations and establish Japan Institute as a global voice for cultural understanding.”

Steve Bloom, CEO of Portland Japanese Garden and Japan Institute remarks:

“Misako’s strategic vision, forward thinking, and ability to bridge cultures will elevate our organization and bring new opportunities for our programming. We’re fortunate to have her apply the decades of experience she has in cultural diplomacy at such prominent posts, so we can continue to build strong connections in Japan and pave new paths that will help the organization advance its mission of inspiring harmony and peace.”

About Portland Japanese Garden:

Portland Japanese Garden is a nonprofit organization founded in 1963 as a place for cross-cultural understanding following World War II. A hallmark in the City of Portland and the state of Oregon, the Garden was founded on the ideals of peace and mutual understanding between peoples and cultures. Portland Japanese Garden is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan and among the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in the world.

About Japan Institute:

Japan Institute was established in 2022 as a global cultural initiative of Portland Japanese Garden. This sibling organization is the programmatic arm of Portland Japanese Garden, allowing us to share and expand our cultural programs more broadly around the world, deepen international partnerships, and continue to engage diverse people in shared experiences and conversations about peace, beauty, and connection of nature. Japan Institute consists of three centers: Global Center for Culture and Art, International Exchange Forum, and International Japanese Garden Training Center.