Monday, May 1, 2017

Hidden Gem of Seattle - Kubota Japanese Garden

Small ponds and colorful trees are everywhere!

Filtered sunbeams sparkling on streams that meet the calm waters of ponds full of koi fish. Some tall some short trees, all casting a cold shadow on the skipping stones of life. Some bell, seemingly far away, breaks the tranquility of the area but only to introduce a pleasant occasional symphony to Nature’s song. And there goes the trail where you meet kids frolicking, dogs jumping around and people basking in the warmth of the sunny day

Kubota doesn't have small Furins but sure has a huge bell!
Ever since I have come to the United States, I have a new-found love for Japanese Gardens. I always loved Japanese traditional houses and country side thanks to all the ‘Animes’ I fell in love with growing up. Knowing that Seattle has such a significant American-Japanese connection, one of the first things I did after I got my admit to University of Washington was search for Japan Town (I was thinking in terms of China Town to be frank). 

Welcome to Kubota!
And it was during this search that I came across Seattle Japanese Gardens. There are two Japanese Gardens in Seattle - one well-known, at Washington Park Arboretum, and one known to few, tucked away in South Seattle. So, I being me, chose to explore Kubota Japanese Garden (久保田) near Rainier Beach and am recommending this place to all for this spring!
This is the first glimpse of the mini jungle inside!
Kubota Japanese Garden is tucked away in the centre of a residential area of South Seattle, but the park itself is nothing short of a mini forest. Occupying over twenty-acre landscape of the Rainier Valley, Kubota Japanese Garden was started Fujitaro Kubota in 1927 but it officially became a gardening landmark of Seattle in 1981 after Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board recognized the space.

Stepping stones and grass in this case representing yin and yang or stepping stones of life!
In 1927 an immigrant from Japan’s Shikoku Island, Fujitaro Kubota, bought five acres of a swampland near Lake Washington. Since he was an immigrant, he was never the owner of the land but that didn’t dwindle his love for traditional gardening and he back then started the rock garden part of Kubota. He was then sent to Idaho due to the situation in US during World War II, but he continued to supervise the building of the garden. Ages later, now in 2017, the place is a vibrant trail with hills, valleys and terraces, interlaced with streams and ponds with the typical stones of life, koi fish and beautiful bridges and two hidden waterfalls too (or maybe it was one that is at two levels and has a secret descending path!).

One of the small hidden waterfalls
So far I have been to 3 Japanese Gardens in the US and the array of structures and garden elements at Kubota just make it the best one! The gazebo and the terrace are now famous amongst wedding photographers while the bridges and the waterfall are just everyone’s favourite and must not be missed!

Gazebo look over point and wedding photo-shoots
Rock(stone) garden, maple woods, Mapes Creek, Stroll Garden and the mountain side give you an experience of an easy hilly trail away from the hustle bustle of city life while the park is actually in the Rainier Beach neighbourhood about 5 minutes away from the Rainier Beach Link Rail Station – aka pretty close to city life area!

The moon bridge! Do you get why? The other bridge is called the heart bridge. Bridges in Japanese gardens symbolize path to paradise.
Due to all the reasons, I just gave, and many more – sunny cool Seattle weather at it best included – Kubota Japanese Garden is my next ‘Seattle Spring’ explore suggestion!
Oh the colours! 
How to Get there:
Kubota Garden is located at 9817 – 55th Avenue South, on the corner of Renton Avenue S. and 55th Avenue South and is 5 minutes’ bus ride, 20 mins walk away from Rainier station. You could also take bus route 106 from Downtown to get there.
Reflection of life, reflection of nature - well this is reflection of a sunny day in Seattle!

Best Time to Visit:
All around the year – even during rainy days! Only During sunlight hours though.

P.S. Carry a bottle of water with you because the trail can dehydrate you under sun and tire you after a point.

And since it is spring now, expect a lot of flowers in the garden!


  1. So poetic. The place look so beautiful.

  2. Beautiful photographs and wonderful narration.

  3. The place is really very beautiful !!

  4. When I was 16, I came across this word (city) Seattle when I was reading this cliche teenage erotic love story and I did my research on this word, I found out it was a city and I was taking this city tour via Google Earth and this 360 view that Google maps offered viewers. I actually fell in love with the city because it's so pretty and so unique. Saw the Space Needle view and The Seattle Central Library and I fell in love with it. Fell in love with the co-operate view of Seattle. I also did my research work on some gardens where you could go boating and that's when I thought I just wanted 'Settle in Seattle' I know the information that i saw and collected were pretty small and not rightly fits into why I should settle there or so, but recently with your blogs about Seattle and the places it has, Now I actually know why it would be nice to settle there. It's not about the library architecture that I went in total awe with or the city sky lines I could see from that tall famous structure but now I feel it's the surrounding of nature that is away or maybe in parts of the city that makes me want to be there. From tulip fields to now gardens that have a small country cultural view, Damn! Now I'm totally in love with this city although I like the co-operate view more that the natural view. But this city is anyhow Beautiful. I so damn want to visit this city. And this graden is such a getaway or a I- want to spend-alone- time thing. It's lovely.:) x

    1. Letizia - I still havent covered the best of Seattle I feel! This beautiful city has so much to offer! You need to spend time and soak in the experience. :) Glad you like my posts!

  5. The place looks so mystical and calming. And the bursts of colour look so soothing. Lovely post Vish, I felt like I traveled with you. The reflection pic is super creative.

  6. Japanese gardens are always beautiful. I managed to find and venture to one in London. The peace that they give is so much!
    Wedding photoshoots or the actual destination of the wedding itself - this looks perfect!!

  7. What a great japanese garden! Just want to go there on the right and breathe in the peaceful atmosphere and stand on the moon bridge.

  8. This literally looks like a mini Japanese Garden...I would have never even known it wasn't until I read about it! I plan on doing a cross country road trip up to Canada this summer and was looking for some off the beaten path things to do in each city, including Seattle so I will definitely be pinning this for later!

  9. I love finding Japanese gardens! I didn't know this until we went to one in Hawaii! It was so peaceful and beautiful. When we go to Seattle to visit some friends we have to check it out.

  10. I completely agree with you about loving Japanese gardens. I love how peaceful they are. I have been to one in San Francisco, but never one in Seattle. I will have to check this out when I finally go to Seattle.

  11. Japanese gardens are very peaceful and quite surreal indeed! I've been to the one at Delray Beach in Florida that includes various styles of rocks and zen gardens!

  12. We recently went to longwood gardens on PA, one of the top rated in the US. There is so much beauty around these days.

    Glad you got a chance to visit Japanese Gardens, we never could visit one in San Francisco.

  13. Japanese gardens are so cute. They are so refreshing to walk through. I have always been fascinated with the precise ways they make the trees grow. Loved your pics

  14. Nice photos! Indulging with nature is good and Kubota Garden is the best place. It is really beautiful and quite, especially in that moon bridge.

  15. It does gives a mini forest look, one that is pretty too!

  16. Japanese garden look so pretty, refreshing and a good spot for photo shoots too. I loved that moon bridge and the belief behind it. Would love to visit one soon.

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