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Use arrows to browse images, or click photo for full screen slide show.  (Thanks to Deborra Knotts, Senior Gardener, for her kind tour and detailed information and history!)


The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate has its origins in the “Japanese Village” exhibit of the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.  After the fair, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity.  He became caretaker of the property, dedicating his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents its development.  He and his family lived for many years until 1942 when they, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced into internment camps.  As was the case in other similar circumstances, the garden name was changed to “Oriental Tea Garden”.  Hagiwara’s Shinto Shrine was removed.  Even after the war, the family was not allowed to return to their home and the garden [1].

Finally in 1952, the name “Japanese Tea Garden” was reinstated.  The next year, the 9000 lb. “Lantern of Peace” was presented by the Japanese Council General, paid for by by the donations of children in Japan.

The garden’s 5 acres of strolling paths around Japanese style buildings, a teahouse, koi ponds and streams hold classic Japanese garden elements such as the drum bridge taiko-bashi 太鼓橋, Japanese stone lanterns, serene koi pond and karesansui 枯山水.  The large bronze Buddha was cast in Tajima, Japan in 1790, and presented to the garden in 1949 by S & G Gump Company.

[1] Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco official website. Retrieved from http://japaneseteagardensf.com/about-us.php on August 27, 2015.