Has the hustle and bustle of the city got you feeling bogged down? Then it's time to head to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. The oldest Japanese public garden in the United States, the tea garden was originally part of the 1894 California Fair Exposition. After the Fair closed, landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara created the Japanese-style garden as a gift to the city. Hagiwara and his family lived on the site until WWII when they were sent to internment camps. Sit a spell in the teahouse with a warm cup of tea and Japanese sweets. Then walk the beautiful grounds enjoying the barrel bridge, raked garden, five storied pagoda and other traditional Japanese motifs. Open daily and free on Mon., Wed., and Fridays mornings before 10am. Small gift shop on premises.
The Japanese Tea Garden has been a special place for multiple generations of my family. It may be small, but it feels like an entire world apart, a pocket of beauty and peace in Golden Gate Park and the ever-busy city.
For me, a visit here always includes a stop at the tea house for some hot tea and a special treat. This is a place to settle in and relax. Let your senses enjoy the garden: the taste of tea, the sounds of moving water, the views of maple trees, blossoms, and Koi fish swimming.
The gardens are small but beautiful, peaceful, and worth the visit. Just within Golden Gate Park, and a small fee for entry. You can relax for a couple hours and enjoy tea and Japanese treats or browse the gift shop for beautiful Japanese articles and souvenirs.
The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the oldest Japanese Tea Garden in the U.S. and from 1895 to 1925 the gardener, Makoto Hagiwara, designed and took care of the garden. He and his family lived in the garden until 1942 when the family were taken from their homes and placed in the horrific internment camps during WWII.
It is also the place of the first place where the Japanese fortune cookie was served in the U.S. (they started in Japan at around 1878).
Their website: http://japaneseteagardensf.com/
Every season brings you a new garden surprise of flowering trees and shrubs. It is a peaceful retreat with the SF Botanical Garden across the street, the de Young Museum next door and the Academy of Science across the Concourse.
And yes, the tea is quite good too!
Here is a post I did a few years ago on one of my evening visits: http://www.anothergayday.blogspot.com/2007/10/evening-at-sf-tea-garden.html