California flowers - botanical gardens
JAPANESE TEA GARDEN IN GOLDEN GATE PARK
San Francisco, CA--Welcome to the Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest Japanese-style
garden in the United States.
In Japanese culture, the garden is
considered one of the highest art forms. The garden expresses
in a limited space the essence of nature by the use of
specially-selected plants and stones arranged in harmony with
the landscape. Often plants and stones are placed to express a
traditional symbolic meaning, or to display the beautiful
seasonal colors of trees and shrubs.
The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park,
San Francisco, is a stroll-style garden, in which visitors can
enjoy from the paths and bridges, many different views of the
ponds, flowering cherry trees, azaleas, oriental magnolias,
camellias, Japanese maples, dwarf pines, cedars and cypress.
Visitors can enjoy a cup of traditional green or jasmine tea
and cookies in the teahouse, served by a waitress in a
beautiful silk kimono. The fortune cookies that are served
were originally introduced in 1914 at the Tea Garden by Makato
Hagiwara through his baker.
The Beginnings: 1893 - 1894
The Japanese Tea Garden originated in the Japanese Village
exhibit of the California Midwinter International Exposition
of 1894, which was held in what is now the Music Concourse
Area of Golden Gate Park.
Entirely constructed by Japanese artisans,
the village was a joint effort of both East and West. The
people most responsible for its design and construction were
M. H. deYoung, the expositioner's director; George Turner
Marsh, a local importer of Japanese art goods; John McLaren,
Golden Gate Park's legendary superintendant and the
exposition's landscape engineer; and above all, Makato
Hagiwara, a wealthy local Japanese landscape designer.
According to McLaren, Hagiwara actually constructed the
garden, its pavilions and the teahouse, and initiated the idea
of a traditional tea garden as a Japanese Village exhibit.
1895 - 1925
After the exposition closed on July 4, 1894, San Francisco's
Park Commissioners purchased the shoronomon (the temple belfry
gate which served as the main entrance gate to the garden
until 1985) and the ni-kai-yashiki (the Two Story House that
later was remodeled into the Gift Shop). Some of the Japanese
Village structures were dismantled and removed from Golden
Gate Park, but many garden features, such as the rustic
teahouse pavilions, the Drum Bridge and stone lantern, and the
beautiful fan palms on rock clusters near the Main Gate, were
In 1966 the Asian Art Museum wing of the deYoung
Museum was completed, with its large picture windows overlooking the
eastern section of the Japanese Tea Garden. This section of the
garden was relandscaped and a stone arrangement designed by Roy L.
Hudson, Assistant Superintendant of Parks, was added. This section
of the garden presents a restful interlude between the busyness of
the rest of the garden and the interior displays of the Avery
Brundage Collection housed the Asian Art Museum.
1969 also marked the hundredth anniversary of the
first settlers from Japan, and to commemorate this event, the
Committee for Japan Week in San Francisco donated the large stone
lantern located west of the South Gate outside the garden.
1970 - 1993
In 1972 Otto Miller, Section Supervisor of the Garden for 25 years
retired. Mr. Miller was hired as a gardener under John McLaren and
made many improvements to the Garden; E. J. Schuster became
supervisor of the Japanese Tea Garden in 1972.
Inside and to the right of the Main Gate stands a
large stone with a beautiful bronze plaque designed and executed by
the sculptress, Ruth Asawa. Ms. Asawa is well-known for her many
exquisite fountains located throughout San Francisco. The plaque
reads "To honor Makoto Hagiwara and his family who nurtured and
shared this garden from 1895-1942," and was dedicated on March
The Maple Lane landscape located in the
northwestern part of the garden was relandscaped by E. J. Schuster
in April 1977, with the addition of a new stone lantern, field
stones and a "sprinkled hail stone pavement" - a So
pavement - for the path.
In 1979 a new landscape with Mt. Fuji as the main
theme in the form of a clipped hedge was designed by E. J. Schuster
for the area just inside and to the left of the Main Gate. This
landscape honors Makoto Hagiwara, who came from an area in Japan
near Mt. Fuji. Visitors sipping tea in the teahouse will be able to
see Mt. Fuji in the distance, beyond the pond.
Restoration of three aging gates in the garden
began in April 1985. One of Japan's leading shrine and temple
builders, Mr. Kensuke Kawata was selected as chief designer and
supervisor of the gate construction. Because of the extensive rot,
the old 1894 Main Gate entrance and the 1915 Temple Gate located
near the pagoda were completely removed. New gates were constructed
on those sites. The South Gate was partially rebuilt; this gate
originally stood at the Japan exhibit of the 1915 Panama-Pacific
International Exposition in San Francisco.
In 1986, the Recreation and Park Department named
the roadway in front of the Japanese Tea Garden "Hagiwara Tea
Garden Drive" in honor of the Hagiwara family.
A new rustic style Long bridge with a slightly
curved deck was constructed in the center of the garden in 1988. It
is similar to the bridge in the garden during the Hagiwara era.
As a special tribute to the 100th Anniversary of
the Japanese Tea Garden in 1994, the Friends of Recreation and Parks
donated funds for the restoration of two Meija era (1868-1912) large
bronze lanterns in 1993. The lanterns, which rest on cement
pedestals have been located at each side of the Torii Gate since
Early in 1895, Makato Hagiwara was placed in charge of the Japanese
Tea Garden, where he remained for the next thirty years, in
recognition of his role in establishing and maintaining one of
Golden Gate Park's most popular and beautiful attractions, During
those thirty years, the small garden within the Japanese Village's
one-acre nucleus was expanded to five acres, including the chain of
lakes and western plateau. Not only did Hagiwara plan and supervise
the work, but he also financed a large portion of it as well.
1925 - 1942
When Makato Hagiwara died in 1925, his son-in-law, Goro Tozawa
Hagiwara, succeeded him as the garden's manager. Goro undertook the
systematic plantings of cherry trees, the beautification project
proposed long before by Makato Hagiwara.
Upon Goro's death in 1937, Takano Hagiwara, Goro's
wife and the only child of Makoto, became proprietess of the
Japanese Tea Garden. She held her position for several years,
assisted by her children, Sumi, George and Haruko. However, after
the outbreak of World War II, mounting pressures directed against
West Coast people of Japanese descent forced the eviction, in May
1942, of Mrs. Hagiwara and her children from their garden home.
During the ensuing shameful period of the War
Relocation, when American citizens of Japanese ancestry were
evacuated from the West Coast, strong anti-Japanese sentiment
resulted in the demolition of many Hagiwara-owned structures. This
act of prejudice, as well as the later conversion of the Japanese
Tea Story House into the present Gift Shop, destroyed the village
character of the garden, a character to which the traditional o-chaya
service of green tea was integrally related.
With the departure of the Hagiwara family came
many profound changes, including the elimination of the word
"Japanese" from the garden's name. Thereafter, it became
known as the "Oriental Tea Garden."
1942 - 1949
From 1942 until April 1949, the Park Department maintained the
garden and operated the Tea Garden concession.
In 1943, Julius L. Girod, the superintendant of
Parks, constructed the brick terrace and below it the Sunken Garden,
a landscape he designed on the site of the Hagiwara's former home.
Other alterations followed. The removal of
Hagiwara's Shinto Shrine resulted in the relocation of the Buddhist
pagoda, originally standing about sixty feet to the west of its
present site, into the shrine enclosure. This somewhat incongruous
placement of the pagoda within an area bounded by the mizugaki - a
Shinto shrine fence in traditional picket form - explains also why
the torii - a Shinto gate - now faces a Buddhist "treasure
tower" instead of a Shinto shrine.
In 1949, the S. & G. Gump Company presented to
the garden the very old and large bronze Buddha, which is located at
the eastern end of the Long Bridge. It was cast in bronze at Tajima,
Japan in 1970.
1950 - 1959
From April 1940 until 1958, the teahouse and Gift Shop were leased
to Mr. and Mrs. Alan Agnew, a couple who had lived for many years in
the Orient, while the garden's management continued under the Park
These years were a period of reconciliation,
during which time, in 1952, the name Japanese Tea Garden was
officially reinstated. On January 8, 1953, Yasasuke Katsuno, the
Japanese Counsel General, presented a 9,000 pound Lantern of Peace
on behalf of the children of Japan. The Lantern of Peace was
purchased with small contributions from the children of Japan and
was given as a symbol of friendship toward future generations in the
United States. San Francisco was chosen to receive the lantern
because the Japanese Peace Treaty was signed here in 1951.
At the same time, Nagao Sakurai's Zen Garden, a
modern version of the Muromachi period's (1392-1573) dry landscape -
kare sansu - also was dedicated. The Zen Garden symbolizes in
miniature a mountain scene, with stone waterfall, gravel river and
island. The Lantern of Peace and the Zen Garden are located near the
Since 1958, Tea Garden concessionaire Jack Hirose
has funded many improvements for the Garden.
In 1959 the teahouse and gift shop were reconstructed and remodeled
by the architect, R. G. Watanabe.
1960 - 1969
In 1960, the San Francisco Garden Club engaged the services of Nagao
Sakurai, the same man who designed the Zen Garden, to redesign the
entire pond area in front of the teahouse. Also in 1960, the
Japanese Tea Garden's notable collection of beautiful stone lanterns
was enhanced by the donation of twelve such lanterns by Parter
Sesnon in memory of his parents.
In the summer of 1965, a major redevelopment was
started on a hillside in the western part if the Japanese Tea
Garden, just in front of the main pond. The Hagiwara-Fraser
Collection of dwarf trees, lanterns and stones was transported from
Oakland, under the supervision of Roy L. Hudson, Assistant
Superintendant of Parks, and arranged and planted on the hillside
according to a design by Samuel Newsom.
Many of these items had been the property of the
Hagiwara family and were displayed in the Japanese Tea Garden until
the Hagiwara family was evicted in 1942. The Hagiwaras entrusted
their collection to their friend, Samuel Newsom, and later requested
that it be sold. Dr. Hugh Frase purchased the collection and had it
planted in his garden, where it remained until the death of his
wife, Audrey. In accordance with her will, the entire collection was
returned to the Japanese Tea Garden, where it was dedicated in an
appropriate Shinto ceremony on April 1, 1966.
Just a few feet east of the Gift Shop is a
beautifully carved ornamental water basin - tsukubai - in the shape
of a boat, a gift in 1966 of the S. & G. Gump Company. This
ancient vessel originally came from a villa near Tokyo that was
destroyed during the war. If you look closely, you will see a carved
turtle on the inside of the boat.
From Japanese Tea Garden Guide Book
Japanese Tea Garden
The Japanese Tea Garden is both a lovingly
landscaped garden and a teahouse concession developed by the
Hagiwara family for the Midwinter Fair of 1894.
Visitors can ramble around the winding paths,
clamber over the Moon Bridge, and see the largest outdoor Buddha
outside of Asia, the bronze "Buddha Who
Sits through Sun and Rain Without Shelter," cast in Japan.
The Japanese Tea Garden is most enchanting in
April when the cherry trees are in bloom. The Tea Garden is so
popular that to enjoy even a few moments of the intended serenity,
visitors should arrive early on a weekday morning or come on a rainy
day. Allow time for tea and cookies.
Open daily 9 AM–6:30 PM.
(In Golden Gate Park)
San Francisco, California
United States of America