About US

 
 

Our Garden

Open to the public since June 1960, Seattle Japanese Garden is one of the most highly regarded Japanese-style gardens in North America.

Tucked within a vast arboretum in a fast-growing city, the garden attracts over 85,000 visitors annually and is beloved both locally and by garden-lovers from over 30 countries around the world.

Gardens in Japan have long been regarded as an important art form that’s essential to life. This 3.5-acre garden features a style developed in the late-16th to early-17th centuries known as stroll gardens.  Following a winding path around a central pond, stroll gardens invite visitors to journey through the varied landscapes of Japan –  mountains, forests, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, islands and the sea.  Along the journey, varied landscapes are hidden and then revealed.

Renowned landscape designer Juki Iida planned the Seattle Japanese Garden faithful to the principle of shinzensa, the essence of nature.  He used both traditional Japanese plant materials and Pacific Northwest natives that have spread gracefully over time.  Iida also famously travelled to the Cascades to scout for and select a large number of granite rocks to install near the waterfall.  With each passing season, the elements he specified long ago combine to reveal new colors, shapes and fragrances. 

The winding path and benches invite us to view the garden slowly and mindfully, in all of its detail – stones, water, lanterns, bridges, buildings, plants and animals.  Change is often subtle, yet constant, and every visit refreshingly unique.

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Our Management

Seattle Japanese Garden is operated under a cooperative agreement between Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Arboretum Foundation.

 
 
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Seattle Parks and Recreation

Seattle Parks and Recreation promotes healthy people, a healthy environment, and strong communities. Seattle Japanese Garden is one of four specialty gardens among a 6,200-acre park system of 400+ parks and natural areas.

 

 
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The Arboretum Foundation

In January 2016, the Arboretum Foundation became the primary support organization to Seattle Parks and Recreation in the operations of Seattle Japanese Garden. A 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, the Arboretum Foundation provides programming, community outreach and fundraising for the garden.

 

 
Legacy of the Japanese Garden of Seattle: Past, Present and Future.
— Koichi Kobayashi

Our History

The initial movement to create a Japanese Garden in Seattle began in 1909, when the Alaska Yukon Exhibition was held. A Japanese Pavilion with an accompanying garden was built for the fair, which ignited regional interest in and excitement about Japanese gardens. In 1924, the Olmstead Brothers designed the University of Washington Arboretum, and by 1937, officials agreed that the Arboretum needed a Japanese Garden. The realization of the garden, however, had to wait till the end of the World War II, when racial and political tensions eased. It wasn't until 1957 that The Arboretum Foundation began raising funds for the creation of the Japanese Garden. The Foundation asked Tatsuo Moriwaki of Tokyo Metro Parks to help guide the process. He selected Kiyoshi Inoshita and Juki Iida to design the project.

The design was completed in 1959. Under the supervision of Juki Iida and Nobumasa Kitamura, construction began in March 1960 and was completed on an accelerated schedule within four months. Juki Iida personally scouted and selected 580 large granite rocks (some of them boulders) from the nearby Snoqualmi Pass to insert in the garden. Since the construction of the garden was originally envisioned to require three years, the execution required a number of revisions and changes in design throughout the garden. The construction was done mostly by local Japanese-American gardeners. This was the first time, however, that heavy construction equipment was employed in building a Japanese garden by Juki Iida and his staff.

Built in 1959, the Seattle Japanese Garden was the earliest postwar public construction of a Japanese-style garden on the Pacific Coast, and thus has had a strong influence on the design on Japanese gardens throughout the region.

 
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