Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to the new terrace overlook dedication at Kubota Garden

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Kubota Garden Foundation invite the community to a celebration for the new terrace overlook at Kubota Garden on Thursday, May 21, 2015 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Kubota Garden, 9817 55th Ave. S.  The ribbon cutting event includes a Shinto blessing, music by Amazing Grace Christian School-Renton Preparatory Middle High School and light refreshments.

The new overlook structure, located at the north end of the garden above the Spring Pond, provides a much-needed informal event space and casual viewing area. Bob Hoshide of Hoshide Wanzer Williams Architects designed the structure. It is carved into a sloping hillside and connects the upper terrace with views to the main entry gate and pond. The overlook includes a stone support wall, crushed rock patio, granite pavement floor and a beautiful timber  structure, complete with a railing designed by local artist Gerard Tsutakawa, and integrated paths and landscaping.

As part of the project, Stone masons from around the country joined Jyunji and Suminori Awata, 14th- and 15th- generation Japanese stone masons to constructed an eight-foot tall “ishi-gaki” or dry-laid stone wall during a workshop organized by Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center.  The overlook’s stone wall uses a gravity wall system and was constructed using a traditional method of splitting and stacking the large granite stones. During the workshop, stone masons sorted through more than 300 tons of stone. The masons then sized, split and set the wall into place.

The idea to bring the Awatas to Seattle came from Kojima who attended their workshop in Ventura, Calif. in 2010. “Kentaro came back from the workshop and he was so jazzed,” Kubota Garden Foundation President Joy Okazaki said. “He was determined to do one in the Northwest.”

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff including the survey crew, heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, carpenters, cement crew, electricians, plumbers, drainage crew, landscape crew and Kubota Garden Parks staff all contributed to the overlook.  Survey and heavy equipment crews worked with Ohno Construction to prepare the Kubota Garden site for the stone workshop and when the stone platform was in place, Seattle Parks carpentry, electrician, plumbers, and other staff built the pavilion structure and integrated paths.

“The new overlook is a beautiful new cultural asset for Kubota Garden,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent. “Seattle Parks is grateful to the many talented and generous people coming together to create this sustainable community gathering space.”

The Kubota Park Foundation’s successful fundraising campaign included funding from 4Culture, the Seattle Parks Foundation and generous private contributions.  The new overlook represents history, culture and public/private collaboration to further the Kubota Garden Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation missions.

Kubota Garden is a stunning landscape that blends Japanese garden concepts with native Northwest plants. The City acquired the property, which is an historic landmark, in 1987 from the estate of master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota. Kubota was a horticultural pioneer when he began merging Japanese design techniques with North American materials in his display garden in 1927. Tom Kubota, Fujitaro’s son was the first to suggest an overlook structure at the current location. The garden is a spectacular setting of hills and valleys, interlaced with streams, waterfalls, ponds, bridges, and rock out-croppings with a rich array of plant material.

More information about the workshop visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kilmEJoQ0VE&feature=youtu.be  For more information about the event visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kubota-Garden/144013716362 or contact Karen O’Connor at 206-233-7929 or karen.o’connor@seattle.gov.

Japanese master stone masons arriving soon in Kubota Garden

Kubota Garden’s “Rock, People, Chisel” workshop is just a few weeks away, and stone masons from as far away as Michigan, South Carolina and Japan are clamoring at the opportunity to construct a traditional Japanese rampart in the Northwest.

From Aug. 8-20, Jyunji and Suminori Awata, 14th– and 15th– generation Japanese stone masons, will be in Seattle leading a workshop to construct an eight-foot tall “ishi-gaki” or dry-laid stone wall that will serve as the base for a new terrace overlook in Kubota Garden, which is located in southeast Seattle.  The workshop participants will work with the Awatas sorting through more than 300 tons of stone, sizing and setting the wall into place by hand. The group will be assisted by local stone mason, artist and translator Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center and master stone fabricator Tanabe-san.

Kojima helped spearhead the effort to bring the workshop to Kubota Garden and said he is excited to introduce this piece of Japanese culture to the Pacific Northwest garden. When Fujitaro Kubota began the garden in the 1920s, he wanted to showcase the Northwest’s beauty in a Japanese manner.

In a message to workshop attendees, Kojima wrote, “[The workshop] will be educational, historical and cultural. It will be involving the community and it will be a heritage project.”

For the past seven months, the Kubota Garden Foundation has been working with the Marenkos Rock Center and Seattle Parks crews to prepare the site.


In February, Kojima tested High Cascade Granite to make sure the workshop would be equipped with the right tools to efficiently split stones.

On Earth Day, the gardeners at Kubota Garden transplanted a black pine tree to make way for upcoming construction.

In May, Suminori Awata did a tour of the Kubota Garden site and said the project will serve as a cultural bridge between the East and West.

This month, Ohno Construction and Seattle Parks Heavy Equipment Crew finished excavating the site and CalPortland donated 250 tons of quarry spall to backfill the stone structure. Front footings for the pavilion were formed and poured.

“This workshop will be incredible,” Kojima said. “First and foremost is the opportunity to bring the masters from Japan and introduce their art to the Northwest where the community seems thirsty and very receptive to connections with Japan. Also, as important for those of us working or thinking about working with stone, this is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to work side-by-side with the masters.”

After the workshop, when the stone platform is in place, Seattle Parks Carpentry and Cement crews will build the shelter structure. The overlook terrace will include a stone platform and modest shelter structure, integrated paths and landscaping. It will be located at the north end of the Kubota Garden Terrace above the Spring Pond, providing a much-needed informal event space and casual viewing area.

The public is invited to see the workshop in action. There will be no cover charge, but donations to the Kubota Garden Foundation are welcome. Construction will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 8.

Famed Japanese castle builders to construct Kubota Gardens structure

An artist’s rendering of the Terrace Overlook planned for Kubota Garden.

 

There is something that draws us to castles. Maybe it stems from our childhood days full of wonder and fairytales. Maybe it’s our awe of brave knights and jousts. Or maybe, dare we admit it, it comes from an obsession with Hogwarts and Game of Thrones.

There is also something intriguing about the people who build castles.  Jyunji and Suminori Awata are father and son, 14th- and 15th-generation stonemasons who are known for restoring medieval castle walls throughout Japan. The men are from the Ano-shu guild lineage, famed carvers whose castles are celebrated for being impervious to seismic activity, having stood for hundreds of years due to the concentrated dry-stone stacking of their walls.

In August, the Awatas will be in Seattle for two weeks leading a workshop to construct an eight-foot tall “ishi-gaki” or dry-laid stone wall that will serve as the base for a new terrace overlook in Kubota Garden.  Fifteen to 20 masons will work with the Awatas, sorting through more than 300 tons of stone, sizing and setting the wall into place by hand. The participants will be assisted by local stone mason, artist and translator Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center.

Kentaro Kojima performs tests on High Cascade Granite to ensure that Kubota Garden has efficient tools for the August workshop.

The idea to bring the Awatas to Seattle came from Kojima who attended their workshop in Ventura, Calif. in 2010. “Kentaro came back from the workshop and he was so jazzed,” Kubota Garden Foundation President Joy Okazaki said. “He was determined to do one in the Northwest.”

Kojima looked into many private businesses that had Japanese connections to serve as hosts, but realized the wall would be located in a private place after completion and thought that went against the spirit of the project. He searched for a more public venue with no luck. Then one afternoon, Don Brooks, the chief gardener at Kubota Garden, walked into the Marenakos Rock Center.

“I know Don, so we started talking and he brought up this crazy project he read about on the internet,” Kojima said. “The project entailed bringing some guys from Japan and building a stone wall somewhere in California. Don seemed to think that that project took place long time ago, but in fact it just had happened and I had many, many pictures to show him. As I was showing him the images, he said, ‘Oh, how I wish we could do something like that in Kubota.’ And it all connected in my mind. It will be educational, historical and cultural. It will be involving the community and it will be a heritage project.”

During the past year, Seattle Parks and Recreation crews have been busy preparing the Kubota Garden site for the workshop. Crews have relocated trees and large stones to create lines for paths to the overlook. In February of this year, Kojima began doing some tests on High Cascade Granite.

After the workshop, when the stone platform is in place, Seattle Parks Carpentry and Cement crews will build the shelter structure. The overlook terrace will include a stone platform and modest shelter structure, integrated paths and landscaping. It will be located at the north end of the Kubota Garden Terrace above the Spring Pond, providing a much-needed informal event space and casual viewing area.

“We are really excited for the opportunity to promote cross-cultural artwork and highlight the partnership we have with Seattle Parks,” Okazaki said. “Plus, people are really interested in learning about castles.”

To see a video about the upcoming workshop, click the following link: Rock, People, Chisels

Famed Japanese castle builders to construct Kubota Gardens structure

An artist’s rendering of the Terrace Overlook planned for Kubota Garden.

 

There is something that draws us to castles. Maybe it stems from our childhood days full of wonder and fairytales. Maybe it’s our awe of brave knights and jousts. Or maybe, dare we admit it, it comes from an obsession with Hogwarts and Game of Thrones.

There is also something intriguing about the people who build castles.  Jyunji and Suminori Awata are father and son, 14th- and 15th-generation stonemasons who are known for restoring medieval castle walls throughout Japan. The men are from the Ano-shu guild lineage, famed carvers whose castles are celebrated for being impervious to seismic activity, having stood for hundreds of years due to the concentrated dry-stone stacking of their walls.

In August, the Awatas will be in Seattle for two weeks leading a workshop to construct an eight-foot tall “ishi-gaki” or dry-laid stone wall that will serve as the base for a new terrace overlook in Kubota Garden.  Fifteen to 20 masons will work with the Awatas, sorting through more than 300 tons of stone, sizing and setting the wall into place by hand. The participants will be assisted by local stone mason, artist and translator Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center.

Kentaro Kojima performs tests on High Cascade Granite to ensure that Kubota Garden has efficient tools for the August workshop.

The idea to bring the Awatas to Seattle came from Kojima who attended their workshop in Ventura, Calif. in 2010. “Kentaro came back from the workshop and he was so jazzed,” Kubota Garden Foundation President Joy Okazaki said. “He was determined to do one in the Northwest.”

Kojima looked into many private businesses that had Japanese connections to serve as hosts, but realized the wall would be located in a private place after completion and thought that went against the spirit of the project. He searched for a more public venue with no luck. Then one afternoon, Don Brooks, the chief gardener at Kubota Garden, walked into the Marenakos Rock Center.

“I know Don, so we started talking and he brought up this crazy project he read about on the internet,” Kojima said. “The project entailed bringing some guys from Japan and building a stone wall somewhere in California. Don seemed to think that that project took place long time ago, but in fact it just had happened and I had many, many pictures to show him. As I was showing him the images, he said, ‘Oh, how I wish we could do something like that in Kubota.’ And it all connected in my mind. It will be educational, historical and cultural. It will be involving the community and it will be a heritage project.”

During the past year, Seattle Parks and Recreation crews have been busy preparing the Kubota Garden site for the workshop. Crews have relocated trees and large stones to create lines for paths to the overlook. In February of this year, Kojima began doing some tests on High Cascade Granite.

After the workshop, when the stone platform is in place, Seattle Parks Carpentry and Cement crews will build the shelter structure. The overlook terrace will include a stone platform and modest shelter structure, integrated paths and landscaping. It will be located at the north end of the Kubota Garden Terrace above the Spring Pond, providing a much-needed informal event space and casual viewing area.

“We are really excited for the opportunity to promote cross-cultural artwork and highlight the partnership we have with Seattle Parks,” Okazaki said. “Plus, people are really interested in learning about castles.”

To see a video about the upcoming workshop, click the following link: Rock, People, Chisels