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Chiyo’s Garden (#6)

Chiyo’s Garden honors the Murakami family’s daughter Chiyo. Born in 1915, Chiyo Murakami was the second-oldest daughter of Sanzo and Matsuyo Murakami, who originally built the adjacent Jackson Building. She died tragically young at age 22, succumbing to tuberculosis in an upstairs room in the Jackson Building on January 3, 1937.

The Wing Luke Museum partnered with the Murakami family and KOBO at Higo in 2012 to transform a plot of land behind the Jackson Building into Chiyo’s Garden, pay tribute to Chiyo and her siblings, and evoke the spirit of children growing up in Nihonmachi.

The Garden’s Nihonmachi Fence shows the growth, decline and rebirth of the community. Each vertical slat represents one year in the life of Seattle’s Japanese American community. The height of the opening in each slat corresponds to the community’s population at that time. The Fence starts in 1896 with the arrival of the Miike-Maru, the first commercial steamship from Japan carrying 253 Japanese immigrants. It ends in 2013 with the opening of the Garden.

Visit here for a timeline of events to use as a reference for years marked on the Fence, as well as stories from Emiko Aramaki who grew up in Nihonmachi in the late 1930s.


Designed by artists Rumi Koshino and Yuki Kunugi, the four colorful sculpture forms represent the four Murakami children – Chiyo, Aya, Masa and Kay.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

The frog (kaeru) is the symbol for the Murakami family store, Higo 10 Cent Store, located in the Jackson Building.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

The dramatic line that cuts through the Nihonmachi Fence reflects the changing Japanese American population in Seattle over the decades.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.

Detail of a decade marker engraved into a slat within the Nihonmachi Fence.

Alabastro Photography. Courtesy of Wing Luke Museum.