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Featured Item: Calla Lily Stained-Glass Window

Article: A Visit to the Japanese Tea Garden



A visit to the Japanese Tea Garden


Yippee! It’s spring! – I think…

I see the signs… trees are covered in pink blossoms, birdies are singing, yet the weather hasn’t changed much. The days are still cold. It has been a long, brutal winter. But the rain and massive snow melts have caused a phenomenon - an explosion of super blooms all over the land; carpets of colorful wildflowers and bright orange California poppies so vast they can be seen from outer space. Yes, spring has arrived - in a big way

This spring’s newsletter features our Calla Lily stained-glass window. Calla lilies are so elegant and are usually associated with springtime and Easter. Our stained-glass calla lilies are multi-colored and happy. Perhaps this is a work of art you can see hanging in your home. Check it out in the Featured Item Section.

March marks the month of my sister, Ginger’s, birthday. She was a springtime baby – ahem, back-in-the-day. So, what better way to celebrate her birthday than to spend it surrounded by nature at the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. I took lots of pretty pictures. See them in The Article Section, A Visit to the Japanese Tea Garden.   

Enjoy our spring newsletter,

Lorena & Crew

Featured Item

Note: Each item presented is a one-of-a-kind work of art available for purchase. Should any item sell, there are no duplicates.  Contact us about any similar items. 
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Calla Lilly Window 

Calla Lily Stained Glass Window

White calla lilies with purple and turquoise ones too? Exquisite! A bouquet of 5 dancing lilies adorn this vertical window. 




Temple Gate – main entrance. Temple Gate was acquired from the San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 after its closing.

A Visit to the Japanese Tea Garden

You enter the Japanese Tea Garden through a magnificent,105-year-old, wooden Oriental gate. What a grand way to be welcomed. It was my sister, Ginger’s birthday, and we wanted to do something special that day during her visit to San Francisco. We hadn’t been to the Japanese Tea Garden for so long, so we decided this was the perfect time to revisit especially during springtime and for a memorable occasion. Also, she received an unexpected birthday gift from Mother Nature - a bright, but cool, sunny day after so many weeks of grey continuous rain.


The Japanese Tea Garden was originally built as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the San Francisco 1894 Midwinter International Exposition World’s Fair held in Golden Gate Park. Today it is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.

The Garden features a popular Tea House, a red Pagoda, Buddhist and Shinto temples, a Drum Bridge, sculptures, and 5 acres of paths, ponds, blossoming trees & fauna, all beautifully landscaped in a Japanese style of harmony and tranquility captivating its many visitors from around the world.

A tree in full bloom


Scene of Tranquility - a tiny island, a vast sea and two great mountains


Dream Land - girl with umbrella

Barrel Bridge

The Red Pagoda

The magnificent five-tiered red pagoda is a Buddhist shrine. Built in 1915, (9 years after San Francisco was devastated by the great quake), for the Panama Pacific International Exposition located in the Marina District, it was relocated to the Japanese Tea Garden after the fair’s closing in 1916. Pagodas are a symbol of wisdom, peace, harmony, and reverence to ancestors and can be found on mountain tops and on ancient roads. The bright red color is meant to scare away evil spirits. Its characteristic, many upturned roofs deflect rainwater away from the base rendering the building structurally sound against extreme weather.

Red Pagoda

History of the Japanese Tea Garden

When the mentioned 1894 Midwinter Fair closed in Golden Gate Park after one year’s stint the “Japanese Village” exhibit was sold to the City of San Francisco for $4,500. The City then hired Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant and gardener as official caretaker. Investing all his personal wealth and passion into the property, he imported from Japan many plants, birds, the now famous koi fish and transformed the gardens from a temporary exhibit into the beautiful, permanent park we treasure today.

After his death in 1925, the Hagiwara family continued on as official caretakers of the gardens. But at the onset of World War ll, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, the Hagiwara’s were evicted from their home on the property and sent to an internment camp. The Japanese Tea Garden was renamed “The Oriental Tea Garden” and the Japanese tea servers in their gaily flowered kimonos were replaced with Chinese women in traditional Chinese dress. In 1942 the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department took over management of the Tea Garden and still manages it ‘till this day.


Koi fish


Japanese doll wearing traditional kimono

The Hagiwara’s, like so many other Japanese American families, suffered great hardship because of their internment. They also were never reinstated as caretakers of the Tea Garden nor were they reimbursed for their years of personal expense maintaining the gardens. But in 1974 a plaque was gifted to The Tea Garden in honor of Mr. Makoto Hagiwara and in 1986 a road bordering the garden was named Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive to further honor the Hagiwara family permanently.


One of many stone peace lanterns in the Japanese Tea Garden

In post-war 1949, San Francisco home-luxury department store owners, the Gump family, donated a large bronze Buddha to the Garden, and in 1952 the title “Japanese Tea Garden” was reinstated. In 1953, after the signing of the Japanese Peace Treaty, the children of Japan with their small donations commissioned a 9,000-pound bronze Peace Lantern as a symbol of friendship to the United States.


A great Buddha donated by the Gump family

The unusual looking, semi-circular Drum Bridge was originally built for the Japanese Village exhibit for the 1894 San Francisco Midwinter Fair. Its arch completes a full circle reflection in the water. To save land space, the bridge’s pitch is extremely steep making for fun photos of tourists navigating up and down its sides.

The Drum Bridge

My sister, Ginger, thinking about it
Coming down the bridge
Going up the bridge.
Climbing up the bridge.
Stumbling up the bridge.
Ta-Dah!!!... And then she disappeared over the other side of the bridge, and we lost her.
Later that day… My sister, Ginger, reappears from the jungles. “Is the war over?”.

The Tea House

The Tea House

One of the most popular attractions at the Japanese Tea Garden is the original 1894 rustic-style Tea House. Its picturesque setting nestled among blooming gardens overlooks a tranquil pond. The Tea House offers its visitors the perfect place to regroup, rest, contemplate the day and to refresh with snacks and a hot bowl of jasmine tea.

A thief in the house

While enjoying our sit-down break, we noticed the Tea House was being monitored by one lone squirrel. Amazingly, with so many guests munching away, there was nary a pesky pigeon, little birdies, nor anything else hopping about gobbling up food crumbs - just this one squirrel - watching.

The Tea House thief

He spied a plate of cookies at the end of our long table, jumped up, and scurried its length stopping at the young lady cringing next to the plate of cookies, (she thought he was after her - duh!). They looked at each other and in a flash the squirrel grabbed a fortune cookie in its claws, shoved it fully sideways in his mouth - pink fortune slip sticking out - and ran off. This nervy little critter knew exactly what he wanted, (certainly, not the young lady), and so we laughed. As for the fortune he pinched from us… I hope it was a good one.


The Japanese Tea Garden is open for visitors 365 days a year. The most spectacular times to visit are during spring and autumn. For further information and to purchase tickets go to

San Francisco residents with ID are admitted free.

It was a memorable birthday! The Calcagni sisters standing under a Japanese Shinto temple 
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