USA · Japanese Tea Garden
San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, created for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition as part of the fair’s Japanese Village exhibit. The Japanese Tea Garden provides visitors from around the world with an opportunity to experience the natural beauty, tranquility and harmony of a Japanese-style garden in the heart of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
The garden’s lush, harmonious landscaping pays homage to the traditional Japanese art of the garden. Paths wind through its five acres of carefully chosen and manicured plants, including Japanese maples, towering stands of bamboo, an ancient wisteria, and cherry trees that put on a spectacular flowering display in March and April. Among the garden’s other trees and shrubs are pines, cedars, azaleas, magnolias, camellias, and a superb collection of bonsai and other intricately shaped plants.
The grounds also feature a series of koi ponds, elaborate carved wood gates, many stone lanterns, a five-story pagoda (dating from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915), a Zen Garden constructed of stones and gravel, a high-arching Drum Bridge (a relic of the original Japanese Village), and a teahouse and gift shop. A large bronze Buddha near the teahouse, cast in Japan in 1790, was presented to the garden by the Gump Company in 1949. The 9000-pound bronze Peace Lantern situated behind the pagoda was bought with the contributions of Japanese schoolchildren and presented to the garden in 1953 in commemoration of the U.S.-Japan peace treaty signed in San Francisco in 1951.
The garden is also a great spot for local families. It is especially worth a visit at this time of year when the sakura, or flowering cherry trees, and azaleas are in full bloom. It is a magnificent and colorful spring sight that is really worth the effort to see.