Seward Park Torii Gate

Updated: September 13, 2017

Summer 2017

The Seward Park Torii design is complete and is being reviewed by Seattle Parks and Recreation. Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections completed final review and the building permit has been obtained. Seattle Parks and Recreation is working with the Friends of Seward Park to prepare the final plans for bidding. Construction schedule is dependent on funding for appropriate materials and contractor.  The columns (hashira) of the torii will be made of natural basalt columns from central/eastern Washington. The lintel (kasagi) will be made of a single minimally worked piece of western red cedar. The crosspiece (nuki) will be a worked piece of wood that contrasts with the kasagi.

The Friends of the Seward Park Torii selected the design of Murase Associates and Dale Brotherton. Dale is the owner and operator of Takumi Company. He specializes in Japanese carpentry, both refined techniques and aesthetics of japanese structures.

Check the Friends of Seward Park website.

Download the Revised Plan

Location

Seward Park

Budget

Funding for this project is from several sources:

  • Two Neighborhood Matching Fund Small and Simple awards. $19,000 (2012) and $20,000 (2013)
  • $100,000 from a 2015 Large Project Fund
  • Community Fundraising

Schedule

Planning Design and Fundraising: Complete
Bidding: February 2017
Construction: Start date is dependent on procurement of suitable materials and contractor for the specialized nature of this project.

Project Description

In Japan, tall wooden gates known as torii are often found at Shinto shrines, serving as a portal into a sacred space. In the United States, torii are sometimes built as emblems of Japanese culture and to promote friendship and trade. For 50 years, a 26-foot-tall torii graced the entrance to Seward Park. Built in 1934 by Seattle's Japanese American community as part of the International Potlatch celebration, it stood until the mid-1980s, when age and decay necessitated its removal.

With Seward Park having entered its second century, the Friends of Seward Park are working with neighbors and people from all over the city on plans for a new torii. The design will reflect the original torii while also celebrating the Seattle of today. It will have columns and red cedar cross-pieces topped with a metal roof to guard against the weather.

Watch the Seward Park Torii Story:
The history of the Seward Park Torii unfolds in this documentary created by John Thorpe and Janis Medley in 2015.  This oral history project was funded by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

As a matter of information, the correct pronunciation of the word 'torii' is 'toh - ree - ee' - each syllable is pronounced. In Japanese, there is usually a vowel between every one or two consonants.

A portion of the original Torii Gate is a part of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.