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The Japanese Tea Gardens

Step Into Ancient Japan Right In The Heart of San Francisco

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The Japanese Tea Gardens
San Francisco Travel Association Photo
The oldest public Japanese Tea Garden in the United States and one of the top attractions in verdant Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Japanese Tea Gardens were constructed in 1894. Five acres of winding stone paths, Koi ponds, stone lanterns, arched footbridges, ornate teahouses and meticulously cared for Japanese plants provide one of the most tranquil and romantic ways to spend an afternoon in the city. Try to make it for a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, which are held several times a week, or enjoy tea and snacks at the picturesque waterfront Tea House.

Visiting the Japanese Tea Gardens

The Japanese Tea Gardens is located in Golden Gate Park just west of the de Young Museum. You can walk there from the Haight-Ashbury entrance to the park or come in by car from the 8th Ave entrance in the Richmond District.

To get to the Japanese Tea Gardens on Public Transit, your best bet is to take the N Judah Muni Metro Subway Line from downtown.

  • Address: 7 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
  • Hours: 9am till 6pm daily (Summer), 9am to 4:45pm daily (Winter)
  • Admission: Adults $7 (Residents $5), Seniors and Students $5 (Residents $3)
  • Parking: Parking is available in the Music Concourse Parking Lot, located just across the street.
  • Contact: (415) 752-1171 www.japaneseteagardensf.com

Exploring the Japanese Tea Gardens

Leisurely exploring the gardens on foot is one of the most relaxing activities in the entire city. During the spring, the one thousand cherry blossom trees and other Japanese flowering plants bust into bloom and fill the garden with vivid color. Be sure to check out the large bronze Buddha statue that was donated to the garden in 1949, The 9,000 pound lantern of peace, the steeply angled moon bridge and the special Zen rock garden, which was built in 1953 by landscape architect Nagao Sakurai.

Tea Ceremonies in the Japanese Tea Gardens

The Japanese Tea Gardens hold traditional Japanese Matcha tea ceremonies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These are available to the public by appointment only and cost around $25 per person. Kimono robed tea servers offer snacks and instruct participants in the presentation and preparation of traditional powdered matcha green tea.

The Asian Art Museum, located in San Francisco's Civic Center, also offers traditional Japanese tea ceremonies throughout the year.

The Tea House at the Japanese Tea Gardens

Located in the center of the gardens, this large farmhouse style traditional building serves a variety of Japanese teas as well as sushi, tea sandwiches and a variety of sweets. Check out their PDF Menu.

Outdoor seating overlooking a large Koi pond makes the Tea House one of the most romantic destinations in San Francisco for couples or those on dates. The Tea House is open every day as long as the garden is open.

The Japanese Tea Garden Gift Shop

Housed above the Tea House and featuring elaborate architectural details, the gift shop offers authentic tea pots, sake sets and other kitchen items as well as a great selection of books and children's items. Loose teas are also for sale and the friendly staff can give reccomendations and instructions on proper tea preparation.

History of the Japanese Tea Gardens

Built originally as a model Japanese village for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894, the gardens were turned into a permanent fixture by Japanese gardener Makoto Hagiwara. He and his family lived on site of the Japanese Tea Gardens until 1942, when the United States government moved him - and thousands of other Japanese-Americans - to an internment camp. The gardens even had their official name changed to the "Oriental Gardens" during this period but were renamed the "Japanese Tea Gardens" again in 1952. Local legend has it that the famous fortune cookie, now associated with Chinese restaurants, was actually invented by Hagiwara at the Japanese Tea Gardens of San Francisco
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