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Seattle’s Japanese Kubota Garden

The Kubota Gardens is a twenty-acre Japanese-style garden off Renton Avenue South in Seattle’s Rainer Beach neighborhood. It’s backed by a large greenbelt and surrounded by cozy, Seattle neighborhoods, making it the perfect place to enjoy a peaceful setting within the hubbub of the city.

The Kubota Gardens, a history

The Kubota Garden Foundation began as an individual person purchasing five acres of “logged-off swampland” in South Seattle in 1927. Fujitaro Kubota, and entirely self-taught gardener, bought the land with the intention of building a garden. As his business, which came to include gardens on the Seattle University campus, more land was purchased, now totaling twenty acres.

After being targeted for condominiums, the garden was declared a Historical Landmark of the City of Seattle and was acquired by the city in 1987, before which time it was still owned by the Kubota family.

The Kubota Gardens, currently

The expansive garden is beautiful. Paved paths take through much of the twenty-acre garden, winding through hills and lush landscape. Enjoy flowers, ponds, waterfalls, and a moon bridge in the heart of the Japanese-style garden.

There are more, unpaved trails throughout the outskirts of the space; and the gardens are large enough not to feel crowded, even when the parking lot is full.

The Kubota Gardens, a brief

*This information can be found on the KubotaGarden.org website

  • Entry PlazaProParks Levy funded project completed in 2004
  • Entry Gatea bronze sliding gate designed and installed by Gerard Tsutakawa in 2004
  • Ornamental Wall – designed and funded by the Kubota Garden Foundation
  • Overlook – offers a first look into the area, designated a Historical Landmark by the City of Seattle
  • Terrace includes open lawns and enjoys late-summer blooming plants
  • Terrace Overlookgarden overlooking Ishigaki (stone wall) built by the famed Japanese masons from Anoh-shu in 2014
  • Spring Pondfed by several local spring and was once used to feed the Kubota family’s six-acres of nursery stock
  • Mapes Creekan all-season creek that runs through the Kubota Garden Natural Area
  • Heart Bridgecross Mapes Creek and is like a traditional red bridge on Mr. Kubota’s home island
  • Mountainsidebuilt by the Kubota family to celebrate the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle
  • Memorial Stoneplaced in 1962 when Mr. Kubota was 83 years old
  • Lookout offers a wooden umbrella and a grand view of the garden 65’ below
  • Moon Bridgesymbolizes the difficulty of living a good life
  • Tom Kubota Stroll Gardenfeatures long views, benches, and a stone from the high Cascades. It was designed and built in 1999 by Tom Kubota, son of Fujitaro
  • Fera Fera Foresta tranquil refuge, originally a nursery planting of Threadleaf Cypress
  • Japanese Gardenthe most traditional part of the garden and features a spring-fed pond and stones left in the Seattle area 12,000 years ago by the last glacier
  • Maple Woodsbegun in 2015, extending the “borrowed view” as a backdrop to the Japanese Garden
  • Stone Gardenrelocated installation done by Kubota Gardens Landscaping

They offer self-guided tours throughout, with detailed maps to guide you through. Look for them in a metal box near the entrance kiosk.

If you wanted to request a tour guide, you may do so through their online Tour Request Form, but you should plan a few weeks ahead of time and have a decent sized group (they request at least 8).

Looking for a public tour? Check them out the fourth Saturday of the month at 10am.

Have you visited the Kubota Gardens? Share your experiences in the comments below!


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