SEWARD PARK – For 50 years the entrance to Seward Park was distinguished by a 26-foot tall torii, or Japanese gate. Now community members are inviting the public to help design a replacement for the former neighborhood icon, which was removed in the mid-1980’s due to aging and decay.
The original torii was a gift of the Seattle Japanese Chamber of Commerce to the city of Seattle in 1934, and stood as a symbol of good will from Seattle’s Japanese-American community. The torii was adopted as a symbol for the Seward Park Centennial in 2011, and community members suggested restoring it.
With a planning grant from the Department of Neighborhoods, community groups led by the Friends of Seward Park are asking the public to help develop a torii design that will honor its predecessor and reflect current community values. Beginning later this month, public meetings will gather community input on the design and placement of the torii. The Friends then aim to seek additional grants and raise funds to rebuild the torii.
To broaden community participation, the Friends are also hosting contests to design a torii-themed T-shirt and to write haiku, a Japanese form of poetry, related to Seward Park. The winning torii design and haiku will be produced on T-shirts that will be sold to help raise funds for the torii restoration.
The first public planning meeting is scheduled for Sat., Jan. 26, from 10 am to 12 pm at the Seward Park Audubon Center.