Seattle Japanese Garden opens for the season this week, celebrating with a fittingly serene First Viewing celebration Sunday with a Shinto blessing and drop-in calligraphy workshop.

The site is designed for appeal in all seasons, and a few camellias and other shrubs bring touches of early spring color to the 3.5-acre formal garden’s paths, ponds and stone bridges with Japanese maples, ginkgo, bamboo and Northwest native rhododendrons, azaleas and cedars.

“The structural elements of the garden, branches, colorful bark and the trimmed pines really stand out at this time of year,” says Japanese Garden Tour Coordinator Mary Nagan. “The views are longer with less in bloom, and seeing nature start to awaken is like getting in on the ground floor of our colorful April and May season.”

Though the opening celebration is Sunday, the garden’s first days of the season will be 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, then 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays in March before longer hours and daily openings April through September. Special events throughout the season include tea-ceremony demonstrations, free weekend tours starting in April and Puget Sound Bonsai Association Spring Show and Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) events in May. Memberships are available, including a Photo Membership with designated photographers-only hours and rights to sell your photos of the garden.

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The stone bridges, stepping-stones and rough terrain characteristic of authentic Japanese-style landscaping make some areas of the garden inaccessible to visitors with physical limitations. The garden does have ADA access paths, though many pathways are gravel surfaced, which may cause difficulties for wheelchair and walker users.

To preserve the unique and carefully maintainednature of the garden, picnics, camera tripods, weddings and pets are not allowed.

Madeline McKenzie: