For 50 years the entrance to Seward Park was distinguished by a 26-foot tall torii, or Japanese gate. Now community members are working to build a replacement for the former neighborhood icon, which was removed in the mid-1980's due to aging and decay.
Do you remember the original torii?
For our oral history project we'd like to find out what the original torii meant to the community. How did it add to the park? Send us your memories, your impressions, or tell us why you support the new torii. It doesn't have to be fancy or more than a sentence. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment on our new Facebook page (click the icon at the top of this page).
What's new for the torii project?
Please visit our new Facebook page to see the latest news! Check out our new Build-the-Torii model kits, fun for kids of all ages! Join us for a picnic lunch in the park on Bicycle Sundays or find our table at one of the summer festivals coming up (schedule below).
Construction drawings for the new torii design, including an ADA accessible surface under the torii, are expected to be completed by fall. Our oral history project is working on a video presentation that explains the story of the torii and what our project means to the community. The video will be shared with appropriate community archives to keep the story of the torii from getting lost again, as it nearly was before we began our project.
Bon Odori, July 19-20
This traditional Japanese summer festival honors departed ancestors and is known for its dancing. Also expect taiko drumming, food, crafts, and martial arts. Look for our display with a video clip of the original torii at the Potlatch Festival in 1934.
Saturday July 19th 4-10pm; Sunday July 20th 3-9pm.
From Hiroshima to Hope, August 6, 6:00-9:30pm
This beautiful annual lantern-floating ceremony at Green Lake promotes peace, and remembers the victims of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and all victims of violence. The Seward Park Torii survived World War II as a symbol of friendship between cultures even as its donors were incarcerated in prison camps during the war. Look for us at the ceremony.
Bicycle Sundays in Seward Park
August 10 and 24, September 14 and 21
Stop by and see our display, or join us for a picnic lunch or tour of the Japanese gifts in the park.
Rainier Valley Heritage Parade and Summer Streets Party, August 16, 12:00pm
Stop by and build a tori model or try your hand at origami.
Sketch of the new torii in context- Murase Associates
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! Build-the-Torii model kits.
This build-it-yourself model is fun for kids of all ages. See our Donate page to order one of your very own.
New edition of Cherries, Lanterns, and Gates
Our book about Japanese and Japanese American cultural gifts in Seattle parks has been revised to include new discoveries about the history of the torii and cherries in Seward Park. Visit our Donate page to order a copy.
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 email@example.com
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