Free First Thursdays Return for the 2018 Season

By Rumi Tsuchihashi

 A curious young onlooker takes in the fluid movements of butoh dancer Joan Laage during the 2017 Wandering and Wondering event. The dancers will grace the garden again for Free First Thursday this year on August 2.

A curious young onlooker takes in the fluid movements of butoh dancer Joan Laage during the 2017 Wandering and Wondering event. The dancers will grace the garden again for Free First Thursday this year on August 2.

Our garden transports visitors out of the hurried pace and pressures of Seattle's urban life. It is a much needed place for people to immerse themselves in nature, in their quiet thoughts, and of course, in the refined and serene beauty that is the art of the Japanese gardening.

Starting April 2017, we began offering Free First Thursdays as a pilot program with the belief that every citizen of Seattle deserved equitable garden access. Over the course of the year, over 3,000 visitors who may not have otherwise been able to entered the gates free of charge, and delighted in the seasonal beauty from lush spring to fiery fall—taking photographs and making lasting memories with friends and family along the way.

Each month, we also offered a Japanese culture-inspired arts event. We hosted a wide range of experiences, from photography shows to interactive origami demonstrations to a garden-inspired butoh dance that heightened our visitors' senses.

We're very pleased to announce that the Free First Thursday program has been extended into the 2018 season! The garden will be accessible free of charge from 3 p.m. until closing each month, and we'll once again have additional artistic experiences for visitors to enjoy.

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On April 5, we invite you to check out the exuberant rhododendrons in bloom and stop by the Tateuchi Community Room for a very special artist reception. For the past two years, participants in the Elderwise dementia-friendly Arts in the Park program have been coming to the garden regularly, turning their inspiration into vibrant watercolor paintings. "A Year in the Garden" is a culmination of the work they've created, and it will be their first exhibit at the garden. The reception will be held from 4 - 5:45 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.

Whether you're a first-time visitor or a regular who's been coming for decades, we welcome you to experience Free First Thursday at Seattle Japanese Garden this year. And please spread the good news by sharing this article with another garden-lover you know.