Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park (beautiful landscapes, bonzai, sculpture & tea)
Explore the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park and be immersed into this world that easily takes you to Japan walking along the garden pathways, bridges and quiet spots around this magnificent garden.
Slowly taking in all the details to the meticulous garden is a visual delight with stepping stones, arched bridges to climb, stone lanterns and gorgeous pagodas to photograph at different angles. You’ll love visiting this wonderful and elaborate Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate park.
Where is the Japanese tea garden located in San Francisco?
Located in Golden Gate park in the main concourse area and right next to the De Young Museum, the Japanese tea garden is hidden through ornate gates, fences and other ornamentation. Behind the exterior walls is a lush and beautiful garden that reflects all the wonderful aesthetics and features you can explore and experience throughout the garden. You will find the entrance to the garden through the main tiled gate and kiosk, check the information below for admission, information and picking up a brochure.
History of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park
The oldest Japanese garden established in the United states, this garden was created originally as an exhibit to the 1894 fair in World’s Fair in San Francisco and with many of the sculptures, Japanese outdoor collections and other significant structures used into this authentic Japanese tea garden at Golden Gate Park.
During the war in 1942, the garden was renamed the Oriental tea garden because of anti -Japanese sentiment during that time frame but returned to the original name after the war had ended. The Japanese tea house is under the concession with servers of the Tea house being of Japanese descent or Japanese.
Interesting fact – the fortune cookie was introduced in the garden as a snack in 1900 and serving it at the tea house and eventually spreading to the local Chinese restaurants in the area but now is the only tea house to serve fortune cookies in a Japanese setting
Here’s a video history tour of the Japanese Tea Garden
Explore the gardens
Once you enter the main gate, the first thing you do notice is a large pond with the tea house fronting the pond area. Continue on the left side of the garden where an elegant arched drum bridge is set over some more koi ponds (a perfect photo op spot) and leads you to a bigger area with views looking up the at main site which is a grouping of large pagodas set on a small hill overlooking Golden Gate Park.
Created during the 1915 Pan Pacific exhibition, the pagodas were moved to this current location along with an ornate temple gate, a huge bronze buddha donated by Gump’s Department store. There is a lovely garden in the top portion with a bamboo grove and fantastic views of the garden and tea house below.
What you will find at the Japanese Tea Garden
With 7 different types of bamboo, over 100 plant species from Japan and all over asia and beautiful structures and ornamentation, you will enjoy exploring all the garden paths.
Meandering walkways, paved stairs, zen garden, beautiful landscaped views and water features to enjoy, the garden is filled with visual scenes that amuses, is pleasing to the eye and fun to explore.
All the plants are trimmed and bonsai sized for human size and viewing in this compact garden that is delightful to view at many different angles.
Experience tea at the tea house
You can enjoy some refreshing tea and Japanese snacks in the beautiful tea house with a custom made Irori or Japanese family table. Over looking the gardens and ponds, the tea house is a beautiful and relaxing space to take a break and enjoy the views of the garden.
Fascinating story of the fortune cookie
Actually, originating in Japan and brought to the US, the fortune cookie was more savory and when brought here for mass production because sweet and infused with vanilla flavor to appeal to more western taste and flavor.
It became very popular and is still served with every cup of tea for visitors to the tea house.
There is also a gift shop located in the tea house for purchasing some Japanese inspired gifts and souvenirs.
To check out the details of the tea house, visit their website here for more details.
Check out this video on what a typical tea ceremony experience is like
Hours and entry fee
The garden is open daily from 9am to 6pm in summer and 9am to 4:45pm in the winter hours.
Entry is only cash $8 for adults $6 for residents, 12-17 and 65+ $6 and $3 for residents
Age 5-11 $2 and under that age is free
Where to park around the Japanese Tea Garden
You can park on the main side streets in the park or park at the parking music concourse garage here for more information.
More details and inside tips to visiting the Japanese Tea Garden
Spring time around March to April is Cherry Blossom time with the trees and various perennial shrubs blooming and creating a colorful show in the gardens. And worth visiting this time frame.
Summers and sunny days are best and the tea house is open air so you can enjoy the outdoors covered even on rainy days.
You can experience a beautiful tea ceremony on cleaning, presenting, receiving and drinking tea at the tea house. An elegant server in a dressed kimono will lead you through this elegant and immersive experience.
There is free entry to the garden on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays between 9am to 10am
Best to avoid the busy time frames from 11:30 to 2:30 when everyone visits and enjoys lunch service at the tea house.
The Giant Buddha donated by Gumps Department store in San Francisco
How to get to the Japanese Tea Garden
Located next door to the de Yong Museum and across from the Music Concourse of Golden Gate Park.
You can catch any of the local buses that visit the park area or muni on the N Judah and get off 9th and walk to the park area
By Car, you can park on the streets or the main parking garage under the de Young Museum or the California Academy of Sciences.
Enjoy viewing this video highlights of visiting the Japanese Tea Garden
Check out this wonderful video to a tea experience and tour highlights
Here’s another beautiful walking tour of the Japanese Tea Garden
Check out the other spectacular gardens in Golden Gate Park below
Golden Gate park has so many wonderful public areas and gardens to explore in the park for you to enjoy including:
A walk or boat around Stow Lake
Visit the Conservatory of Flowers
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Conclusion to visiting the Japanese Tea Garden
So, these are all the most popular and well-loved parts of Golden Gate Park that locals and visitors enjoy including the Japanese Tea Garden. If you have been here, we would love to hear your thoughts or inside tips to visiting the area.
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