PEACE, tranquility. We all need this time to rejuvenate tired souls in the comforts of our own chosen sanctuary. But what if you are on the road?
They say that this place in San Francisco is always in the tour list of popular destinations. How come I never heard of it? Apparently every local who has been doing their civic duties of tour guiding has this spot on their list when the rest of the “more popular” destinations (to the unknowledgeable tourist at least, like myself) have been checked.
This was not on my list of must-see in this state but pleasant surprises do come when you least expect it. And this one came when Dominic C. hosted "A Day in San Francisco" for the visiting Davao delegation of US mainland first-timers.
Like a morning prayer, to start our day, Dominic brought us to this wonderful place to get our adrenaline pumping, in the most tranquil way -- a tour of the Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden.
No way would ever think that this was a part of a busy city, a pocket in the big bustling state that's one of the most serene place to be in. It was definitely a place to escape -- an escape to the Orient -- should you tire of the day to day metropolitan hustle.
The Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public garden in the USA. It was built as part of the World's Fair -- the Japanese Village of the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition.
It was a Japanese immigrant and gardener Makotos Hagiwara's idea to convert the temporary showcase into a permanent park after the fair.
Upon given the approval, Hagiwara personally oversaw the building of the Japanese Tea Garden and specifically requested that one thousand flowering cherry trees be imported from Japan, as well as other native plants, birds, and the now famous koi.
Hagiwara was made the official caretaker of the garden from 1895 to 1925, with his family they maintained the place until 1942 when they were forced to leave the state and relocate along with thousands other Japanese Americans.
The garden was renamed Oriental Tea Garden but regained its original name ten years later.
It was in 1949 when another famous fixture was added, an antique bronze Buddha cast in Japan in 1790.
Covering five acres of the Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden has become one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco. It houses beautiful monuments, bridges, sculptures, native Japanese flora, ponds, Zen gardens and a teahouse to enjoy traditional Japanese fare.
The lush greenery was the right energizer to start a busy touring day of San Francisco. Dominic was the perfect tourist guide kicking off the plan by feeding our souls with the beauty and tranquility of nature that anyone would have missed out on their visit to this US state. I'm glad he took us to this Zen experience.
Ad now, it was time to feed our bodies. Famished, we head on to the next most important spot -- the nearest restaurant for breakfast.
(Japanese Tea Garden is located at 7 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, east of Stow Lake, between John F. Kennedy Drive and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.)