Japanese Tea Garden (San Francisco)

Garden located in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park that was cared for by a Japanese American family before the upheavals of the World War II era.

The Japanese Tea Garden originated as part of the "Japanese Village" exhibition from the 1894 California Midwinter Exposition. At the end of the fair, a local Japanese landscape architect, Makoto Hagiwara, became the caretaker of the property, and in 1908, he built a house there and moved with his wife and daughter to the garden. Over the decades, Hagiwara expanded and improved the garden, adding objects from the family collection to the twenty-four room house. After he died in 1925, his daughter, her husband, and their three children continued to take care of the garden.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hagiwara family was forcibly removed along with all other West Coast Japanese Americans, and the garden was renamed the "Oriental Tea Garden." After the war, the Hagiawara family were not allowed to return to the garden, and the family was forced to sell the items that once populated the house. San Francisco Chronicle and "Examiner" columnist Herb Caen publicized the treatment of the Hagiwaras in the late 1940s, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission voted to restore the original name in 1952. In 1983, the City of San Francisco honored the Hagiwara family and presented $5,000 checks to two surviving family members as part of the city's reparations program for Japanese American city workers fired during World War II. [1]

The garden has been restored and continues to operate as a tourist attraction that features a refurbished tea house. Another Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio, Texas shares a strikingly similar history.

Authored by Brian Niiya , Densho

For More Information

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 18.2 (1998): 93–119.

California's Gold with Huell Howser: Japanese Garden . Written and produced by Huell Howser. 27 minutes. Huell Howser Productions, 1996. [Streaming episode of the California public television series that focuses on the garden.]

Japanese Tea Garden official website, http://www.japaneseteagardensf.com/ .

Morey, Robert J. "Japanese Tea Garden." California Horticultural Journal 31.2 (1970): 52–59, 73.


  1. Pacific Citizen , Oct. 28, 1983, 3.

Last updated Dec. 14, 2016, 1:08 a.m..