Seattle Japanese Garden, a tranquil oasis in the city


In late July, after the Seattle Garden Bloggers Fling ended, my family joined me for sightseeing in the Emerald City and beyond. I convinced them to see one more garden with me, the Seattle Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum.


At 3-1/2 acres, the garden is just the right size to while away a pleasant hour or two, strolling the paths around the pond, resting on benches to gaze upon carefully arranged views, and admiring or perhaps feeding the enormous koi that follow you around the pond’s edge like dogs begging for table scraps. Designed and constructed by Japanese garden designer Juki Iida in 1960 and renovated in 2002, at 50 years old the garden is serenely beautiful, well-kept, and surely a jewel in the Seattle parks system.


Restful shades of green, some loose, others clipped, are accented with traditional stone lanterns.


A stream tumbles down a naturalistic, boulder-strewn hillside…


…and spills down little waterfalls into small pools.


A large pond is the focal point of the garden and offers beautiful vistas from all sides. The reddish orange foliage of several Japanese maples and the cool weather made me feel as if I’d somehow leapt past summer into fall (I wish!).


A small stone lantern perches at the pond’s edge.


Cloud-pruned pines lead the eye to tall evergreens surrounding and entirely screening the garden from city views. You can almost forget that you’re in an urban setting.


Lantern detail


More beautiful Japanese maple foliage frames a tea house on the far side of the pond.


Lovely views


And hungry koi


Bridges lead across the pond in various spots.


I liked the zig-zag bridge.


I was surprised to see azaleas in bloom at this time of year, and to see them clipped into topiary. It works in this setting.


More relaxed, a mossy weeping willow leans languidly over the pond.


A wider view with the willow


Another reddish maple, and another beautiful bridge, this one a low, wooden arch.


We were captivated by open vistas like these…


…and intimate vignettes alike. I’m so glad we made time for a visit to Seattle’s timeless Japanese Garden.

Up next: A visit to majestic Mt. Rainier National Park. Local readers, I hope these posts offer a visual cool-down from our ongoing heat wave!

All material © 2006-2011 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

8 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This would be a place to inspire anyone to Foliage Follow Up.

    It sure would, Lisa. —Pam

  2. Landbohaven. says:

    Gode billeder. Smuk natur. Tak for rundvisningen.

    Translated from Danish to English: “Good pictures. Beautiful scenery. Thanks for the tour.”

    It was my pleasure, Landbohaven. Thanks for commenting. —Pam

  3. How beautiful. And, green.
    Thanks for sharing this. We needed it.
    Stay cool…

    I’m trying, Linda. The only thing that helps is staying indoors and looking at cool vacation pictures. :-) —Pam

  4. Thanks for the tour Pam, this is another of those places in my own back yard that I’ve not visited.

    I wonder how it compares to the Portland Japanese Garden, Loree? I have heard both described as authentic and beautiful Japanese gardens. —Pam

  5. Alison says:

    This was one of the first gardens I visited when we first moved here from Massachusetts. Good post! I’m looking forward to your post about Mt. Rainier. I’m so glad you found time to go up the mountain. It is so beautiful. I hope you saw lots of wildflowers blooming.

    Only a few, Alison. There was so much snow this year that the wildflowers were delayed. But I got a picture of one early-bird flower. —Pam

  6. […] Up next: A visit to Chittenham Locks, where we saw salmon swimming up the fish ladder. Click here to see the Seattle Japanese Garden. […]

  7. Michelle D. says:

    Sublime photography Pam.
    really, amazingly beautiful composition , color and balance.
    It was a treat to view your images.

    Thanks so much, Michelle! —Pam

  8. Mary Nell says:

    They are beautiful photos…except for the intrusive watermarks. I can’t help but wonder if they couldn’t be either abandoned or at least less blatant?

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