Japanese stonemasons will help build new Kubota Garden pavilion

By JOURNAL STAFF

Weddings are already a revenue generator for Kubota Garden, a lushly landscaped, 20-acre Japanese garden in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood. Last year 58 events were booked at the garden — mostly weddings — and they brought in $6,650, according to Seattle Parks and Recreation.

A new project there could help make the park an even more enticing spot for nuptials.

Work will begin soon on a $375,000 platform at the north end of Kubota Garden Terrace, which overlooks the park’s Spring Pond. The spot is used for weddings now but has poor drainage.

Kubota Garden Terrace Overlook will have a 30-by-24-foot timber pavilion set on a base supported by a three-sided stone wall built into the slope. The pavilion will have a glass roof system and metal roof shingles.

Site preparation for the overlook is under way.

The pavilion was first envisioned by Tom Kubota, son of the garden’s founder, Fujitaro Kubota. The younger Kubota, who died in 2004, viewed the spot as a good location to look down into the historic “core area” of the garden, according to Joy Okazaki, president of Kubota Garden Foundation, which raises funds for projects in the park.

The original plan was to build a simple standalone structure, but poor soil conditions meant the pavilion would need a robust support.

Foundation members later learned of a Japanese father-son team of stonemasons who could build a support wall for the overlook.

Junji and Suminori Awata say their family has been stonemasons for 15 generations. The Awatas use dry-laid stone techniques similar to those used to construct Japanese castles in the early 16th century.

The Awatas will be in Seattle to conduct an “ishigaki,” or stone wall, workshop at Kubota Garden from Aug. 7-20. Fifteen to 20 participants will work with the Awatas to construct the 8-foot-high stone wall that will serve the base for the overlook.

The project will require sorting through more than 300 tons of Cascade granite, and sizing and setting it into place by hand without using mortar. The finished structure will contain up to two tons of stone.

Kentaro Kojima of Marenakos Rock Center will provide the stone and organize the workshop on behalf of the foundation. CalPortland is providing the fist-size gravel that will be used for backfill of each layer of stone.

The timber pavilion will be constructed by crews from Seattle Parks. Ohno Construction and Kubota Garden staff will do the site grading, drainage and landscaping.

A railing designed by local artist Gerard Tsutakawa will be installed, and other improvements and landscaping will be completed over the winter.

The overlook is slated to be dedicated in early spring 2015.

Hoshide Wanzer Williams Architects is the designer. Other project team members are Swenson Say Faget, structural engineer; RFA, civil engineer; Hart Crowser, geotechnical engineer; and Purcell Planning and Design, project manager.

Okazaki of the Kubota Garden Foundation said just over half the funding for the project has been raised. The foundation’s goal is to raise the rest by September.

Those who want to participate in the August wall-building workshop or be a part of the project can call Okazaki at (206) 423-5977 or email info@kubotagarden.org.

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