The long-awaited celebration to mark the construction of the Japanese torii (gate) in Seward Park will be held on April 2 from 1-2 p.m. The celebration will include taiko drummers, a lion dance, and remarks from elected officials as well as community advocates.
The Department of Neighborhoods awarded a planning grant to the Friends of Seward Park, which hired landscape architectural firm Murase Associates to design the torii. Murase worked with the Friends of Seward Park to gather community input. 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 are made of natural basalt from central Washington. One giant western red cedar tree harvested on Vancouver Island provided the timber for the lintel (kasagi) and crosspiece (nuki). Seattle Parks Foundation supported the Friends of Seward Park, and together they successfully raised $347,000 for the project.
Seattle Parks and Recreation managed the construction of the new torii gate. It replaces the 26-foot timber torii given to the City by Seattle’s Japanese American community in 1934 as part of the International Potlatch celebration and then donated as a gesture of intercultural friendship and placed in Seward Park. The original torii was removed in the mid-1980s due to decaying beams.