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Japanese Garden at Point Defiance Park

Plans aim to improve Japanese Garden and surrounding area

Through a partnership with Tacoma's Sister City Kitakyushu, this garden will receive an updated design plan reflective of Japanese landscaping traditions and steeped in cultural heritage.

Planning and fundraising began in 2012. Since then, Metro Parks hired The Portico Group to evaluate not only the garden but the area around the Point Defiance Pagoda in the context of the Point Defiance Park Master Plan Update, which was approved in late 2015. The plans also include a new pedestrian/cyclist path.
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Preferred design option added May 11, 2016; survey closed May 24; comments are being taken into consideration

In early 2016, Metro Parks and The Portico Group presented several early design options for public comment. Based on community input and additional work, they prepared a preferred design option (below). Metro Parks will announce when this plan might proceed in the future.

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2016.05.06 preferred option web-res

See the earlier design options here.

About the Japanese Garden redevelopment project

There has been a long tradition of Japanese–inspired gardens in Point Defiance Park. The Pagoda was constructed in 1914 and through the years Point Defiance gardeners have made concerted efforts to design plantings in harmony with its Japanese style architecture. In 1959 the Japanese city of Kokura, now called Kitakyushu, became Tacoma’s Sister City. A Shinto Shrine and Torii Gate were given to Tacoma in 1961 and moved to the Japanese Garden in 1982.

The Japanese Garden has never benefited from a master plan to guide design and through the years many elements have been incorporated that do not fit traditional Japanese Garden design principles. Because of this Metro Parks has undertaken to have the garden designed and reconstructed in an authentic Japanese style.

In the fall of 2012 a delegation of Metro Park’s staff and Sister City liaisons traveled to Japan for a study trip funded by a grant from the Japanese Foundation through Sister City International. Working with Kitakyushu City staff and master garden designers from the Kitakyushu Greenery Association, (KGA) a preliminary landscape design for the garden project was created.

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