The Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco is in Golden Gate Park, and is the oldest public garden in the U.S.
It has a tea house, gift shop, and five acres of stunning gardens. Serene paths meander past a koi pond, arched drum bridge, temple gate, five-story pagoda, and stone lanterns.
The Japanese Tea Garden was originally constructed as an exhibit at the 1894 World Fair, then relocated to a permanent garden by landscape designer Makoto Hagiwara. Hagiwara lived there with his family from 1895 to 1942, but was sent to a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII and was never allowed to return to the garden.
10 BEST things to do at the Japanese Tea Garden
1. See the striking five-story red Pagoda.
This buddhist shrine was constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition as part of the Japanese Exhibit. It was moved to the Japanese Garden afterwards. Look for the tranquil waterfall feature, tucked away in the mini-mountain below the Pagoda.
San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden
2. Walk through the ornate Temple Gate.
This was also constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Temple Gates are positioned at the entrance to shrines, marking the transition from ordinary life to a sacred space at the Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco.
Red pagoda at Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco
Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco Free
3. Walk around the main pond, surrounded by dwarf trees.
Search for orange koi darting about in the pond, and rocks jutting out of the water that depict sacred islands.
Pond at San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden
4. Explore the meandering pathways around Maple Lane.
Japanese Garden SF
5. Follow the pathway under the Long Bridge, draped in fragrant wisteria.
Japanese Botanical Garden SF
6. Walk beneath the steep arched drum bridge.
The bridge is designed to look like half a drum, which forms a full drum when reflected back in the water at the Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco.
Arched drum bridge at San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden
7. See stunning maples and cherry blossoms.
Visit in Fall when the maple trees turn blazing red, or April and May to see the pink cherry blossoms.
Maple tree at San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden
8. Visit the enchanting Tea House overlooking the pond.
The Tea House serves light snacks like Miso Soup, Udon noodles and tea sandwiches. Sencha green tea is also popular with visitors. The garden's founder Makoto Hagiwara first introduced fortune cookies to the United States, and these are also available on the menu at the Tea House.
Tea house at Japanese Garden in SF
9. See stone lanterns throughout the garden.
The stone lanterns are hauntingly beautiful in the evening, when they are illuminated to lead the way to temples.
Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco CA
10. Find this enchanting stone pagoda on an island in the Main Pond.
It represents a sacred shrine on an island, surrounded by a vast body of water.
Lantern at San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden
Know before you visit the Japanese Tea Garden San Francisco
- Address: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118.
- Admission & Hours: Check hours and tickets.
- Parking: Along JFK Drive, or Martin Luther King Jr Drive.
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