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Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park
URL:Goto this web site  http://www.inetours.com/Pages/SFNbrhds/Japanese_Tea_Garden.html 
Name:Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park garden photo
Tea Garden - S.F. Golden Gate Park
Photo: Robert Cheetham

Alternate Name: 
Address:Tea Garden Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive 
Mailing Address: 
City:San Francisco 
Postal Code:94117 
Latitude/Longitude:lat=37.770841; long=-122.468359
Find Gardens Nearby
Weather:current weather 
Designer(s):Hagiwara Makoto, Sakurai Nagao 
Construction Period:1894 - 1942 
Hours:Open daily, hours vary by season; usually 8:30am to 5 or 6pm 
Admission:Adults $2.00, children $1.00 
Added to JGarden:1/1/1996 
Last Updated:1/2/2005 
Sources:Erik S. Hagiwara-Nagata  
JGarden Description:This garden had its beginnings as part of a Japanese Village exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in San Francisco. Since then it has weathered many changes, including the banishment to internment camps in 1942 of the family who had given the garden to the city and cared for it since its creation. It is the oldest Japanese-style garden in the United States.

The five-acre stroll garden contains a rather eclectic collection of sub-gardens, buildings and artifacts, many with fascinating stories. Some of its prominent features are a high drum bridge (taiko-bashi), a five-story red pagoda, a dry landscape garden (karesansui), a chain of ponds, a teahouse, a large bronze Buddha (cast in 1790 and presented to the garden by S.&G. Gump Company in 1949) and numerous lanterns and other fixtures.

Several people were involved in the design and construction of the original garden, but the most credit is certainly due to Baron Hagiwara Makoto, a prominent Japanese landscape designer who lived at, built, bankrolled and cared for the site from 1895 until his death in 1925. His son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren continued in his footsteps until 1942.

A very sad chapter in the history of the garden ensued, with its caretakers evicted and name changed to the more politically acceptable “Oriental Tea Garden.” Many of the structures built and owned by the Hagiwaras were destroyed, one important building was downgraded to a gift shop, and Baron Hagiwara’s Shinto Shrine was removed. Some incongruity was introduced at this time when a Buddhist pagoda was moved into the shrine enclosure so that the Shinto torii gate faces the pagoda instead of a shrine, as it should.

After the war the garden was eventually renamed “Japanese Tea Garden” and various improvements were undertaken, including the addition in 1953 of the 9,000-pound Lantern of Peace, donated on behalf of the children of Japan, and the construction of the Zen Garden by Sakurai Nagao. Mr. Sakurai was also commissioned to redesign the entire pond area in front of the teahouse in 1960.

Another major redevelopment began in 1965 when a large collection of dwarf trees, lanterns and stones originally belonging to the Hagiwaras was returned to the garden. The Hagiwaras had entrusted the items to a friend when they were interned in 1942. Many other projects followed in the ensuing years, including a new landscape with Mt. Fuji as the main theme which was designed by E.J. Schuster in 1979, and the restoration of three aging gates by Kawata Kensuke, one of Japan’s leading temple and shrine builders, in 1985. The garden has also been the recipient of numerous gifts of statuary and artifacts.

Hagiwara Makoto and his family were finally honored in 1974 with the erection of a large stone and bronze plaque designed and made by sculptress Ruth Asawa. The San Francisco Recreation & Park Department, which has maintained the garden since 1942, named the road bordering the garden Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in 1986 to further honor the garden’s original benefactors.

The web site for Golden Gate Park includes a 360 degree panorama of the garden.

Brown, Kendall H. "Rashomon: the multiple histories of the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park". Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes. vol 18 no 2 (April-June 1998), pp 93-119.

Ishihara Tanso and Wickham, Gloria. The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park 1893-1942. Privately Published, 1979.

McClintock, Elizabeth. The Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California.. The John McClaren Society, 1977.

San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department. Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park. Updated 

Ryoanji Temple, Kyoto
Only in the cloister
Could such a garden thrive, a soil where nature
    Flowers in spiritual dryness,
Drawing an interior nurture
    From sand and rock.

Where the labyrinth of illusion
    No longer entangles the senses
Enmeshing vision in delusive lusters;
Where the lust of the eyes is silenced
And desire of forms, and names of forms,
    Move to no visible end.

Those who planted here
Sowed no ephemeral seed
For the seasonal tempests to scatter,
But the silent root that ripens in detachment,
    Flowers in renunciation.

Gardeners of eternity,
Those who planted here
    Framed the garden in the image of a desert
    And the desert in the image of a sea --
Then shrunk the seas to the mind's salt and, tasting,
    Dissolved all thought away.

On these rocks no water breaks. Without attrition
Tides and currents in this ocean rest and revolve
    In a void of sound, vortex of sand; perpetual
Circles enmesh and paralyzed sea and air:
The effigy of time and measure
    Purged of time and measure

Becalmed on this dead sea of being
No wave moves, no wind of desire
    Flexes the indolent sail.
But focussing its single eye
On dreamless immobility
The gulf like a burnished mirror
    Regards the empty void.

In this dead sea of vision the surges
Merge without movement; the tides
Indifferent to flood and ebb
    Freeze in a flux of haste.
The seagull without motion
Broods on the changeless waste,
Then sinks, his feathers frozen,
    In a sand ocean.

Frail caravels who sail
This subtle gulf, morte mer,
Who stir with urgent keel
The fossil waters of the Great Mirage,
    Or steer by lodestone to delusive ports:

In this calm beyond stasis, dead calm,
No compass points to the land,
    No magnet of attachment
    Guides the helmsman's hand
Through fifteen naked rocks in raked and rhythmic sand.

Here is no sea for the admirals,
The whalers, the merchants of cargoes --
    Those finite venturers for the temporal haven.
These depths are destination,
And naufrage sweeter than harbor.
    Shipwreck is haven on this inland sea.

  John M. Steadman
  20th Century

©1996-2002, Robert Cheetham; ©2016 Japanese Garden Research Network, Inc.
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