The Seattle Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum reopens Sunday, with a Shinto blessing to start the 2018 season.

Juki Iida designed the 3.5-acre garden, and oversaw its installation in 1959. The Seattle Japanese Garden opened in 1960.

The Arboretum Foundation has long supported the Japanese Garden, and in 2016 it stepped up its role by partnering with Seattle Parks and Recreation through a cooperative agreement, said Jessa Gardner, programs manager for the Seattle Japanese Garden.

“Fundraising is definitely a big part of that, and some of that support is of course capital project fundraising,” Gardner said, as well as running the garden’s volunteer program and providing special arts programming.

The Arboretum Foundation introduced two new programs last year, which will continue in 2018. One provides free admission to the garden on the first Thursday of each month, and the other is the Family Saturday program, where special activities geared toward families with children take place, Gardner said.

Volunteer docents will be providing daily tours at 12:30 p.m. this season, from April 1 to the end of October.

“October is our most popular month,” Gardner said. “People love to come and see the maples.”

The garden closes at the end of November, as there are stone pathways that ice over and become a safety issue, Gardner said. It’s also a time for gardeners to move around plants and trees, as well as tackle other maintenance items. The garden’s volunteer plant committee works every year to put together a plant guide, which should be available in July.

Gardner said Seattle is lucky to have one of only a few Shinto temples in the United States located in Granite Falls, Washington, where Reverend Koichi Barrish of Tsubaki Grand Shrine will travel from to bless the Seattle Japanese Garden a blessing on Sunday. The blessing welcomes in the ki (life energy) and is meant to provide good fortune for the year ahead.

Space for the Shinto blessing ceremony is limited, Gardner said, so people are asked to purchase advanced tickets or annual passes. Get them here.

Greetings in the courtyard starts the event off at 10 a.m., with gates opening at 10:15, and the ceremony being held at 10:20. The Tateuchi Community Room will open for complimentary tea at 11 a.m., followed by two guided tours at 1 and 2 p.m.