Kubota Garden is a 20 acre (81,000 m²) Japanese garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. A public park since 1987, it was started in 1927 by Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese emigrant. Today, it is maintained as a public park by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation and the Kubota Garden Foundation.
Fujitaro Kubota emigrated from Shikoku, Japan in 1907 and established the Kubota Gardening Company in 1923. Projects of his included the garden at Seattle University and the Japanese garden at Bloedel Reserve in Bainbridge Island. In 1927, he bought 5 acres (20,000 m2) of swampland in Rainier Beach to start the garden and in 1930 increased the size of the garden to 30 acres (120,000 m2). Kubota Garden served as cultural center for the Japanese community in Seattle, as well as a home, office and nursery for his business. During World War II, Kubota Garden was abandoned for four years as Kubota and his family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho. During his internment, Kubota supervised the building of a community park, which included a Japanese rock garden. After the war, he and his sons Tak and Tom Kubota rebuilt the business.
The Japanese government awarded Kubota the Fifth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1972 "for his achievements in his adopted country, for introducing and building respect for Japanese Gardening in this area." Kubota maintained the garden until his death in 1973.
In 1981, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board declared the core 4.5 acres (18,000 m2) of the park to be a historical landmark of the City of Seattle. In 1987, the City of Seattle bought the garden from the Kubota family, and it is now maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation as well as volunteers from the Kubota Garden Foundation.
In addition, 17 acres (69,000 m2) surrounding the park has been purchased by the Open Space Program in the City of Seattle in order to protect Mapes Creek, which runs through the park. The Tom Kubota Stroll Garden broke ground in 1999 and was opened in 2000. The garden received a new entrance gate designed by Gerard Tsutakawa in 2004.
The garden has encountered the problems associated with vandalism when the staff has left for the day—as evidenced by beer bottles strewn about on the property. Shell casings are a sign that firearms have been fired; and graffiti has appeared.
Kubota Garden Foundation
The Kubota Garden Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1989 to "support, enhance, and perpetuate the Kubota Garden within the spirit and vision of Fujitaro Kubota." Kubota's vision included opening the garden to the public and increasing American understanding and appreciation of Japanese Gardens. The foundation provides additional fundraising, volunteer work, and publications to support the garden.
Features and programs
The garden is open to the public every day during daylight hours all year round. School children, senior groups, tourists, and garden clubs make up a large portion of their audience.
Major features of the Kubota Garden include the Kubota Terrace, the Bamboo Grove, the Necklace of Ponds, the Mountainside, and the Tom Kubota Stroll Garden.
The fourth Saturday between April and October, the Kubota Garden holds a public tour.
The Kubota Gardens contain many varieties of trees and plants including Kuretake (Phyllostachys nigra or Black Bamboo), Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlanticus Glauca), and Norway Spruce (Picea abies).
- Stiffler, Lisa. "Savoring the delights of Japantown and the hands-on Kubota Gardens". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 9, 2008.
- A Short History of the Kubota Garden
- Tamura, Teresa "Minidoka Memories" Pacific Northwest Magazine August 15, 2004.
- Wong, Dean. "Garden abused: Kubota Gardens tarnished by vandalism". International Examiner. August 16, 1995.
- Kubota Garden Foundation Newsletter. Spring/Summer 2010.
- Kubota Garden Self-Guided Tour brochure, Kubota Garden Foundation, July 2012
- Itō, Kazuo. (1973). Issei: A History of Japanese Immigrants in North America. Seattle: Japanese Community Service. OCLC 3698919
- Joyce, Alice. (2006). Gardenwalks in the Pacific Northwest: Beautiful Gardens Along the Coast from Oregon to British Columbia. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot. ISBN 978-0-7627-3818-2; OCLC 62302537
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