The Japanese Garden is a 3.5-acre traditional Japanese stroll garden located within the Washington Park Arboretum. The idea for a Japanese Garden in Seattle had formed by 1909 but it wasn’t until 1957 that planning for a Japanese Garden in the Arboretum began in earnest. Fundraising and planning by the Arboretum Foundation and the University of Washington began, and $50,000 for the project was donated to the University in 1958. A site was selected in the former Maple family (Aceraceae) section around a spring fed pond just south of the intersection of E Interlaken Boulevard and Lake Washington Boulevard E. A design by Kiyoshi Inoshita, Juki Iida and their team was completed in 1959, and construction was finished in 1960. Construction was supervised by Juki Iida and Nobumasa Kitamura, with Mr. Iida personally selecting over 580 large granite stones for the project from Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Mountains. The Garden features stroll through gardens of the formal (shin) type built during the Momoyama Period (late 16th century) and early Edo Period (early 17th century).
The University of Washington managed the garden from its completion until 1981 and the garden is unusual in the diversity of breadth of plants used. Unit 86 of the Arboretum Foundation was formed in 1966 to support the garden, and remains very active to this day. Owing to budget cuts of the early 1980s, the City of Seattle has managed the garden since 1981 through its Department of Parks and Recreation.
The Arboretum’s Japanese Garden is one of the finest gardens of its kind outside of Japan. The landscape effects are lovely in any season, and the blooms are especially showy in spring. It is also one of the best places in Seattle for fall foliage effects. It is currently open March 1 through November 30. Please visit the garden’s website for current hours, admission fees and program information: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/japanesegarden.htm