Strolling through the Japanese Tea Gardens, San Francisco

{Caught some seriously amazing light too with Huji Film!}

We drove towards the Golden Gate Bridge and instead found ourselves in Japan. At least, that’s what it felt like when Devina and I found ourselves surrounded by the elegant cherry blossom trees and carefully manicured lawns of the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco.

IMG_4155 2
Seriously breath-taking natural light out here.

The oriental gates opened to a koi pond that looked straight out of a postcard in the fog-filled morning. Wooden bridges and stone lanterns guided us along the winding path towards numerous red-roofed, five-storey-high Buddhist shrines called pagodas (a word which Devina was completely fascinated by and insisted on pronouncing with a Valley Girl accent. 100% try this out loud now).

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
“Take a photo of me with mah pah-goh-dah” – Devina

As a history nerd, I found it pretty neat that the Japanese Tea Garden was originally built in 1894 for the World’s Fair, making it the oldest Japanese Garden in the United States. This was before horticulturist John McLaren (fabled to have planted 2 million trees in his lifetime – #greengoals) teamed with an affluent Japanese landscape designer, Makoto Hagiwara to make it a permanent fixture in SF’s Golden Gate Park.

Our strolls and selfies through the garden led us to some interesting sights such as this super aesthetically-pleasing Drum Bridge, which was designed to reflect the concept of a perfect circle.

Drum Bridge Devina
TBH it is harder than you think to climb a circle! Super strange “steps”…it’s more of a crawl up the bridge!

As well as to this v. zen statue of Buddha … because who wouldn’t feel peaceful in a place as serene as this?

Buddha Devina
As long as Nirvana has solid wifi we are good.

And this vantage point over the Japanese Gardens.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Devina makes for a great muse (10/10 would recommend this diva for your next photography subject).

Our last stop was the Tea House in the heart of the gardens where you could also enjoy mochi, miso soup and an assortment of other Japanese noms — in addition to tea.

For the rest of your SF day: The Japanese Gardens is located a do-able walking distance from the Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, in addition to the Botanical Gardens if you want even more acres of flowers and shrubbery (shoutout to YOU if you can’t see that word without thinking of Monty Python <3). Since the Japanese Tea Garden is not very large, you can definitely combine your visit along with these other fabulous venues to create a memorable day in SF’s Golden Gate Park!

Keep exploring! xoxo #nikitalyfe


Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

4 thoughts

  1. Thank you for this descriptive piece on such a beautiful garden… I feel as though I have walked through the place myself! 🌳🌼🌳🌺🌳🌸


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s