Obscura Day 2017! Join our global celebration of exploration and discovery.
May 6

Seattle, Washington

Kubota Gardens

This semi-secret garden in south Seattle emulates a traditional Japanese garden using the plants of the Pacific Northwest  

Quietly nestled in Seattle’s Rainer Beach neighborhood, the peaceful Kubota Gardens were established by a Japanese gardener who wanted to bring the serene landscape design of his homeland to America. 

The gardens’ founder Fujitaro Kubota moved from the Japanese island of Shikoku in 1907, establishing a new home in Seattle. A self-taught gardener and landscaper, Kubota purchased a five-acre plot of marshland in 1927 and began work on his magnum opus. Using traditional Japanese design techniques which incorporated water features, walking bridges, and placed stones, Kubota began creating his vision using the plant materials on hand. The site expanded quickly, encompassing 30 acres by 1930.

Kubota Gardens became a community for Seattle’s Japanese population, who appreciated the feel of their former country. The grounds would likely have continued to expand were it not for World War II, which saw Kubota sent to an internment camp, and having to rebuild his life when he was released. 

The elder Kubota passed away in 1973, but the gardens that bear his name are still operated by his grandsons, keeping it in the family. Thanks to the legacy of Fujitaro Kubota, Seattleites barely need to leave their home to visit Japan.

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