Japanese Tea Garden (San Francisco, California) in San Francisco
The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California, is a popular feature of Golden Gate Park, originally built as part of a sprawling World's Fair, the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. For more than 20 years San Francisco Parks Trusts' Park Guides have given free tours to San Francisco Parks trust members, providing context and history for this historic Japanese-style garden.
The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, this complex of many paths, ponds and a teahouse features native Japanese and Chinese plants. The gardens 5 acre contain many sculptures and bridges.
History of the Tea Garden
After the conclusion of the World's Fair, Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant and gardener, approached John McLaren with the idea to convert the temporary exhibit into a permanent park. Hagiwara personally oversaw the building of the Japanese Tea Garden and was official caretaker of the garden from 1895 to 1925. He specifically requested that one thousand flowering cherry trees be imported from Japan, as well as other native plants, birds, and the now famous goldfish. His family lived in and maintained the Japanese Tea Garden until 1942, when Executive Order 9066 forced them to leave San Francisco and relocate to an internment camp with thousands of other Japanese American families. The garden was renamed the 'Oriental Tea Garden', and the garden fell into disarray.
In 1949, a large bronze Buddha, originally cast in Tajima, Japan in 1790, was presented to the garden by the S & G Gump Company. The name 'Japanese Tea Garden' was officially reinstated in 1952. In 1953 the Zen Garden, designed by Nagao Sakurai and representing a modern version of kare sansui (a dry garden which symbolizes a miniature mountain scene complete with a stone waterfall and small island surrounded by a gravel river) was dedicated at the same time as the 9000 lb Lantern of Peace, which was purchased by contributions from Japanese children and presented on their behalf as a symbol of friendship for future generations.
Nagao Sakurai also redesigned the area in front of Tea House.
The first evidence of fortune cookies in the United States is in connection with this tea garden. The descendants of Makoto Hagiwara lay claim to introducing the fortune cookie to the United States from Japan. Visitors to the garden were served fortune cookies made by a San Francisco bakery, Benkyodo.
It is now known that fortune cookies originated in Japan as early as 1878.
- Ono, Gary (2007-10-31). "Japanese American Fortune Cookie: A Taste of Fame or Fortune -- Part II". http://www.discovernikkei.org/forum/en/node/1935.
- Jennifer 8. Lee. (January 16, 2008. p. F1, F6). Solving a Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside a Cookie, New York Times. Retrieved on March 15, 2008.
- Japanese Tea Garden Website
- Tea Garden's radiant foliage invites quiet reflection
- Makoto Hagiwara and San Francisco's Japanese Tea Garden John Tambis, Pacific Horticulture Magazine, vol 45,number 1 Spring,1984