Strolling through Seattle’s Japanese Garden on a Sun-filled Rainy Day

Some days you just can’t stay inside anymore no matter what the weather. A few weeks back Dek and I had one of those days. It had been raining all week. I was getting cabin fever; Dek was bouncing off the walls. I cried enough is enough. It wasn’t raining at that very second. We jump in the car and went for a ride.

We ended up at the Japanese Garden in the Washington Arboretum. On the drive down the sun started to peek out. Upon entering the garden it clouded back over, but I didn’t care. Bushes were in bloom and the trees were starting to bud. I had spotted a glorious cherry blossom just outside the entrance that Dek and I would later stroll on over to.

Built in 1960 with support from the Arboretum Foundation, famed designer Juki lida was chosen to create the plan for this lush garden filled with boulders, streams, moss, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, fruit trees and ferns. The original teahouse was donated by the people of Tokyo, but was destroyed by fire in 1973. In 1981 the teahouse was rebuilt. Tea demonstrations are available at the garden on specific dates, but we were just there to soak in some spring foliage.

This was not our first visit to the garden. We had been last summer, but once again I had forgotten my camera since it was a last-minute trip and we had friends joining us in that adventure. This time it was just Dek and I exploring on our own, something I’m realizing we don’t do very often. I really like getting together with my friends and their kids. The quiet of the garden was a bit magical without having to corral more than one toddler though. I’m not saying it was better it was just a much different experience.

Dek was amazing in this space. Unlike our favorite public garden in the city, Kubota Garden, the Japanese Garden required an entrance fee and was a bit stricter when it came to where you could wander and how tolerant they were of little legs straying from the path. It can make the visit more stressful with a toddler, but with one kid who loves fish and was just happy to be outside it was really a delight. 

A drizzle started to come down as we made our way through the back of the garden. I was about to give up on our trip when the sun broke back through casting the most spectacular light on the pond. We could stick around a little longer. After all, Dek was still having fun and eager to see what was just around the next bend. Of course he was also looking for the perfect puddle to jump in and rocks to throw in the pond.

With legs worn out (mine more than Dek’s) and our bellies starting to growl we headed back towards the entrance. I was sad to leave this little slice of peace and beauty in the city, but I knew we would be back. I had signed up for a family membership when we entered the garden that morning. I kind of have to make sure we get our money’s worth now.

Know Before You Go

  • Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum, 1075 Lake Washington Boulevard East, Seattle, WA
  • Hours:
    • Feb 17 – April 1 Tues-Sun 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      April 3 – May 6 Tues-Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      May 7 – Sept 16 Mon-Sun 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
      Sept 17 – Oct 29 Mon-Sun 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
      Oct 30 – Nov 11 Tues-Sun 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Closed mid-November through mid-February
  • Cost: $6/Adults, $4/ youth 6-17, Children under 5 are free
  • Food and beverages are not allowed in the gardens. You can enjoy your picnic just outside of the garden and throughout the arboretum
  • No pets allowed
  • No photo or video tripods allowed on sight

12 thoughts on “Strolling through Seattle’s Japanese Garden on a Sun-filled Rainy Day”

  1. If you wouldn’t tell it is in Seattle, I would thought it is one of gardens I saw in Kyoto.

  2. Sophie

    So many times, bad weather has been the inspiration for some unusual trips. This looks like a lovely, tranquil garden.

  3. InsideJourneys

    Rainy days are the best to have adventures in public places as almost everyone else is indoors! The gardens are very beautiful and peaceful.

  4. Lisa

    Such beautiful gardens! I love the idea of going to a Japanese tea demonstration – it sounds so interesting! You’ll have to try it sometime and let us know what it’s like.

  5. Leigh

    You can’t beat a visit to see the cherry blossoms rain or shine. Beautiful shots you got too.

  6. Jessica

    Rainy days can be the best days for capturing pictures-and yours are fantastic!

  7. Dick Jordan

    Haven’t been there in many years (I used to live in Seattle). By coincidence, the Seattle Times recently ran a photo of cherry trees on the U of W main quad in bloom.

  8. Nancie

    What a gorgeous spot. Love all these shots.

  9. Mary @ The World Is A Book

    Beautiful shots! I love Japanese gardens and Spring is such a wonderful time to visit. Glad you had a great time.

  10. [email protected] We There Yet Mom?

    That looks beautiful – I would drove a stroll through a quite, peaceful place like that!

  11. Sabrina

    I really like Aroboretums in general, but this seems especially beautiful with all the water around.

  12. Jenna

    I love Japanese gardens, and the colors and shapes of this one are particularly beautiful. On my list for the next time I’m in Seattle!

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