Seward Park Torii  Project 

artist rendition of new torii, by Ted Weinberg

For 50 years the entrance to Seward Park was distinguished by a 26-foot tall torii. Now the Friends of Seward Park and community members are working to build a replacement for the former neighborhood icon. 

Watch the "Seward Park Torii Story"
link to documentary
The history of the Seward Park Torii unfolds in this documentary created by John Thorpe and Janis Medley in 2015.  This oral history project was funded by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

What's new for the Seward Park Torii?
Torii Project Receives $110,000 in Grants
The torii project  recently received two grants that together total $110,000.
  • On September 21, Seattle City Council voted to  fund this year's Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Project grants as recommended by the Department of Neighborhoods' City Wide Review team, including  $100,000 for the Seward Park Torii Project .
  • The project has also received a $10,000 grant from the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation. 
With the new grants we are more than halfway to our fundraising goal. We hope to raise the remaining money this fall so we can complete construction in 2016.

While we will be applying for additional grants, your contribution makes a difference and will help to get us to our goal!

Donate! here

Construction Drawings
In March geotechnical studies were conducted at the future torii site to help design the footings to support the new torii. After exploring different options for stone, we are currently completing construction drawings for the torii and ADA accessible pathway.

Do you remember the original torii?
Our oral history project is wrapped up, but there is still time to tell us your memories of the torii.  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 or post a comment on our Facebook page (click the icon below).

Bicycle Sundays in Seward Park
Join us for a picnic lunch in the park on Bicycle Sundays. At least once a month we'll have a table in Seward Park. Stop by and see our display, or join us for a picnic lunch or tour of the Japanese gifts in the park.  Schedule

What is the plan 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 natural basalt columns from central Washingotn. The lintel (kasagi) will be made of a single minimally worked piece of western red cedar. 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.

What's next?

At the end of our current grant for construction drawings, we will have everything we need to begin construction of the new torii except full funding. The Friends will seek additional grants and raise funds from the community to rebuild the torii. 

How can I help?

  • Donate to our project through the Seattle Parks Foundation, 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?
Watch our video "The Seward Park Torii Story" using the link at the top of this page. Download our informational brochures at the top right  of this page, or below. Click the links on the left for the Torii Slide Show, the Story of the Seward Park Torii, 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.  

Thank you, 
Friends of Seward Park


              Original Seward Park Torii

Seward Park Torii, 1935-1986
Photograph: Seward Park, 1935, Seattle Municipal Archives
Architect: Kichio Allen Arai
Carpenter: Kichisaburo Ishimitsu          

New! Download a brochure!
Torii Project Brochure:
Torii tri fold 2015.07.16 -1.pdf

Self-guided Walking Tour of Japanese Gifts

Cherry Blossoms in Seward Park
Hanami trifold3.docx

Major Donors
 Seattle Dept of Neighborhoods Matching Fund Award
Mimi Kraus Estate
Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation
Nintendo Company

Friends of Seward Park
Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington
Japanese Queen Scholarship Organization
Lakewood Seward Park Community Club
Rainier Valley Historical Society
Seattle Parks and Recreation
Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival
Seattle Kishu Club
Seward Park Audubon Center
Wing Luke Museum
Knute Berger, Journalist & author
Rimban Castro, Seattle Buddhist Church
Sally Clark, former Seattle City Council Member
Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Council Member
Bob Hasegawa, State Senator, 11th District
Tom Ikeda, Densho Project
Johnson+Southerland, Architects
Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative, 37th District
David Williams, Author & naturalist
Please Donate! here

Support our project with a torii T-shirt

Declare your participation in building the torii with a winning T-shirt  from our kids'  T-shirt design contest: "I maked dis".

On the back find the winning haiku from our kid's haiku contest:

Available in adult sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL, and youth sizes S, M , and LTo purchase your T-shirt, see our donation page or email

T-shirts and other merchandise can also be found at the Seward Park Audubon Center, 5902 Lake Washington Boulevard, Seattle 98118.  

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.

 Media Coverage

Paul Talbert,
Oct 9, 2015, 10:36 PM
Paul Talbert,
Oct 10, 2015, 12:48 AM
Paul Talbert,
Feb 28, 2013, 10:41 PM
Paul Talbert,
Sep 8, 2015, 1:35 AM
Paul Talbert,
Oct 10, 2015, 12:43 AM