Kubota Garden

Kubota Garden is a stunning 20-acre garden composed of hills and valleys, featuring streams, waterfalls, ponds, rock outcropping, and an exceptionally rich and mature collection of plant material. This unique urban refuge displays over 60 years of vision, effort, and commitment by the Kubota family.  Master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials.

In 1927 Fujitaro bought five acres of logged-off swamp land in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle and began his garden. Fujitaro was a man with a dream, entirely self-taught as a gardener, he wanted to display the beauty of the Northwest in a Japanese manner and was soon designing and installing gardens throughout the Seattle area. The garden on the Seattle University campus and the Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island are public examples of his work.

As Fujitaro's landscaping business prospered, his Rainier Beach Garden grew to 20 acres in size. It was the family home, the business office, a design and display area and a nursery to grow plants. In the 1930's, a natural stream was enclosed in a pool and surrounded with maple, pine, iris, and stone. In the forties during World War II, the garden was abandoned for four years while the Kubota family suffered internment at Camp Minidoka in Idaho. Fujitaro and his sons, Tak and Tom, restarted the landscape business after the war and began extensive plantings of nursery stock. Many of these nursery areas are still in use today.

In 1972 the Japanese Government awarded Fujitaro Kubota with a rare honor, the Fifth Class Order of the Sacred Treasure, “for his achievements in his adopted country, for introducing and building respect for Japanese Gardening.”

Fujitaro died in 1973 at age 94. He had always hoped that the garden would one day be open to the public, both to enhance the quality of life in Seattle and to increase American understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture. In 1981 the American Japanese Garden, created by Fujitaro, was declared to be an Historical Landmark of the City of Seattle.