Interesting Places: Japanese Tea Garden

One of my favorite places in the city. This is the oldest Japanese public park in the country and it is something worth visiting when you come to San Francisco. It was created in 1894 as a “Japanese Village” inside the Golden Gate Park for the California Midwinter International Exhibition, but was then granted as a gift to the city, cared for by the architect Makoto Hagiwara.

It is a small space (not THAT small, it’s actually 5 acres) full of natural beauty and culture. The garden features an arched drum bridge, pagodas, stone lanterns and stepping stone paths. As you can imagine, the plants are Japanese, and the ponds are filled with kois. They also have a zen garden.

The first time I visited San Francisco was in March of 2012, so we had the chance to see the beautiful cherry tree blossoms (they blossom in March and April only). It was lovely! I took my friend to the Japanese Garden two weeks ago, so no cherry blossoms for me this year. Although I did get to see them all over town before the Cherry Blossom Festival, so I don’t feel bad for me! 🙂

You can also have a meal and/or tea at their tea house. The place also hosts authentic Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations (which I am dying to see!). They are by appointment only and they only have them on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s $25 dollars a pop per person, but I think is something everyone who appreciates foreign cultures should experience.

If you wish to visit, the Japanese Tea Garden is open daily, even on holidays. In the Summer (from March ’til the end of October) their schedule is from 9 am to 6 pm, and in the Winter (from November until the end of February), from 9 am to 4:45 pm. Their admission is $5 if you’re a resident and $7 if you’re not.

Here are some of the photos of our little field trip:

We had lunch at the tea house (sandwiches and jasmine tea, yum!) and this was our view. Gorgeous!:

Koi friends!

This is a photo from 2010, with the cherry blossoms on the background. I am not kidding, I was freezing! I’d never thought I had to pack winter clothes for San Francisco (amateur) so I threw everything and anything on to keep me warm:

7 thoughts on “Interesting Places: Japanese Tea Garden

  1. A delightful garden! Is it maintained by Japanese gardeners? There is a small garden in Adelaide (Himeji Garden) but apparently our local gardeners were not skilled or precise enough. Our Japanese partners who kindly gave it to our city and set it up stepped away from it because of this lack of attention to detail in the upkeep. Our shame!


  2. I’m pretty sure it still is, since there is a big plaque inside the teahouse thanking a Japanese family for taking care of the garden for years, not sure it its the same family that founded it. You should visit the garden if you’re ever in SF. 🙂


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