Long time favorite still pleases

In the early 1970s, my husband and I lived in San Francisco before moving to Hawaii. We used to walk all over the city, sometimes hopping on a bus, streetcar or cable car.

Golden Gate Park was a favorite for exhibits at the DeYoung, competitions at the Hall of Flowers, and peaceful respite with tea at the Japanese garden. Coming back to the city in 2012 was a wonderful time to visit with much missed friends. We enjoyed a progressive dinner in Little Italy with appetizers, main course, and coffee with dessert in three different places.

And we couldn’t wait to see the new (to us) additions to the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden.

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The South Gare, originally from the Japan exhibit at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, was partially rebuilt in the 1980s   [photo by Bill F. Eger]

“Originally created as a ‘Japanese Village’ exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden,” according to the gardens website http://japaneseteagardensf.com/

“When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and [park] superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity.”

The Californi fair came to be because Michael H. deYoung was a Presidential appointee to the 1893 fair in Chicago — the World’s Columbian Exposition — and he saw the benefits to his home state. Soon, plans were underway to hold a six-month exhibition in Golden Gate Park from late January to early July 1894.

The San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden is the only ethnological display still in existence from that fair. And Makoto Hagiwara poured his talents and personal wealth into expanding its gardens to five acres.

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real ducks mingle with metal cranes in a pond     [photo by Bill F. Eger]

Makoto died in 1925 and care of the garden passed to his daughter Takano Hagiwara. With the outbreak of World War II and the relocation and incarceration of most Japanese from the West Coast, the Hagiwara family was removed from their beloved garden, which was renamed “The Oriental Tea Garden.” Japanese structures and a Shinto shrine were demolished. Chinese women replaced Japanese tea servers.

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waterfall, stones and lantern reflect in a pond below the iconic tea house  [photo by Bill F. Eger]

Following the war, in the 1950s, a period of reconciliation ensued. The tea house and gift shop were redesigned by Nagao Sakurai. Japanese elements returned to the garden. The name was restored. And most of the Hagiwara family’s dwarf trees returned.

The street in front of the garden entry was renamed Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive and in 1974 artist Ruth Asawa donated a plaque honoring the Hagiwara family’s dedication.

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seasonal color comes with summer’s iris        [photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger]

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traditional pathways blend with more modern walkways   [photo by K.T. Cannon-Eger]

Congratulations to the management on improving the quality of items offered at the gift shop. And a special tip of the hat to the Japanese and Japanese-Americans serving at the tea house. The tea was very tasty.

For more on the history of the San Francisco Japanese Tea Garden, please refer to the garden’s web site mentioned above, and to the web site of Eric Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagata http://www.hanascape.com/

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