Seward Park Torii Gate Restoration Project
For 50 years the entrance to Seward Park was distinguished by a 26-foot tall torii, or Japanese gate. Now community members are designing a replacement for the former neighborhood icon, which was removed in the mid-1980's due to aging and decay.
What's new for the torii project?
The Friends of Seward Park received a second grant from the Department of Neighborhoods to move our project forward on two fronts.
First, to further develop the story of the original torii, we will conduct interviews with those who remember the torii and create an oral history that explains what the torii and our project mean to the community. These interviews will be edited into a video presentation that we can use to explain the story of the torii and engage different audiences of people in the project. The oral history will also be shared with appropriate archives to keep the story of the torii from getting lost again, as it nearly was before we began our project.
Second, the grant will pay for construction drawings and for the design of an ADA accessible surface under the torii. Previously we were advised to only have a grass surface, but a new emphasis on ADA compliance in the city revised this recommendation. The Parks Department will contribute $2000 to help with the design of the surface.
The cherry blossoms are out early this year and its prime time for hanami, or flower-viewing. Presently Somei-Yoshino, Akebono, and Botan cherries are in bloom in Seward Park, with Kanzan, Ichiyo, and Shogetsu cherries soon to come. On April 8 and April 15, join Paul Talbert for a free cherry blossom walk, and learn about the history of cherries, the torii and the stone lanterns in Seward Park. Meet at 10:00am at the Audubon Center at the park entrance, 5902 Lake Washington Boulevard.
Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival
April 25-27, Seattle Center, Armory and Fisher Pavilion
Come find us at the Cherry Blossom Festival! We'll be there all day Saturday and Sunday 10am - 6pm, and after 1pm on Friday (festival is 9am-5pm on Friday).
The Festival began in Seward Park in 1976 and has grown into the large 3-day cultural event it is today.
Remind me what the plan is for the new torii?
With a planning grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, the Friends of Seward Park hired landscape architectural firm Murase Associates, working with Takumi Company, to gather community input on the design of the torii. Community participants chose a design that honors the original Seward Park torii, addresses concerns about long-term maintenance, and reflects current community values and the wilderness character of the park. The columns (hashira) of the torii will be made of granite. The lintel (kasagi) will be made of a single minimally worked piece of wood covered with copper flashing to help protect it from water and to inhibit fungi. The crosspiece (nuki) will be a worked piece of wood that contrasts with the kasagi.
Like the original Seward Park torii, this design takes inspiration from the famous 'floating' torii of Itsukushima shrine at Miyajima, Japan. The hashira are tapered upward like the camphor trees that form the hashira at Miyajima. The hashira will have stone texturing influenced by the stonework of Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who created the sculpture Black Sun in Volunteer Park.
The torii will be located close to the site of its predecessor on the north side of the Seward Park Entrance Circle. Certain details of the setting are still under discussion with the Parks Department.
At the end of our current grant, we will have everything we need to begin construction of the new torii except the funding. The Friends will seek additional grants and raise funds for the community to rebuild the torii. Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Project grants are offered yearly, and we can apply next year. Meanwhile we must raise matching funds from the community.
How can I help?
Donate to the Friends of Seward Park, or contact us about buying a torii etching, T-shirt, or our book Cherries, Lanterns, and Gates about the torii and other Japanese cultural items in Seattle's Parks (see donation page).
Tell everyone you know about the project and encourage them to donate.
Join our torii committee.
Share your fundraising ideas with us.
How can I learn more?
Click the links on the left for the story of the Seward Park torii, torii slide show, torii FAQ, and all about torii (from Wikipedia).
Return here often to learn more as we update this site with new information and our progress.
Friends of Seward Park
Original Seward Park Torii, 1935-c. 1986
Photograph: Seward Park, 1935
Architect: Kichio Allen Arai, 1901-1966
Carpenter: Kichisaburo Ishimitsu
New edition of Cherries, Lanterns, and Gates
Our book about Japanese and Japanese American cultural gifts in Seattle parks has been revised to include updated information about the history of the torii and cherries in Seward Park, as well as other minor updates. Look for it here later this month.
Support our project with a torii T-shirt
Adult T-shirt winning design
Our T-shirt was specially designed in public contests for the best design and best haiku about Seward Park.
To purchase a T-shirt, see our donation page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more haiku, with commentary by haiku judge Michael Dylan Welch of Haiku Northwest, choose "Haiku and T-Shirt Contest Winners and Honorable Mentions" from the menu on the left side of this page.
City Living: Iconic Japanese torii to be restored
Northwest Asian Weekly: Community to restore iconic Japanese gate in Seward Park
Rainier Valley Post:: Community to restore iconic Japanese gate
For more information about Seward Park of Seattle, visit www.sewardpark.org