Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is one of San Francisco’s best-loved outdoor attractions and certainly among its quietest.

It is said to be the oldest public Japanese garden in the country.

Despite its status as a favored tourist destination, it is mostly undefiled by its popularity.

There is a modest entrance fee and a gift shop.

You might also spend a few dollars at the tea house to get a cup of tea and the fortune cookies — which are originally a Japanese confection, not Chinese. They were introduced to America on this very spot over a century ago.

Photographers will find no bad angles in this five-acre oasis of tranquility. The textures and colors of the abundant flora (and the occasional fauna) delight the eye and can quickly fill up your camera’s memory card.

Originally planned to be a temporary attraction at the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the tea garden was expanded and cared for by its creator, a landscape gardener named Makoto Hagiwara, who died in 1925.

His family tended to the garden and lived on the premises under a 99-year lease which went up in smoke in World War II when they were evicted and sent to an internment camp.

The 17-room house where the Hagiwara family lived is long gone as are many of the ornaments and statues they collected during the almost half-century they stayed here.

But the garden they nurtured for so long, though sometimes a bit the worse for wear, still endures as a monument to peace, a place of delicate beauty and a bridge between continents and cultures.


Official Site: Japanese Tea Garden of San Francisco

SFGate.com: Tea Garden’s Radiant Foliage