San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden holds a special place in my heart. However harried I may be upon entrance, its flora-fringed pathways never fail to calm. Dotted with the fluted eaves of pagodas and temple statuary, the landscape of bonsai branches, vibrant foliage, and reflective, koi-filled ponds has a fluid motion. As I reach the carefully-combed pebbles of the Zen Garden, my breathing slows and I begin to appreciate the garden’s artful details.
No trip to this special spot would be complete without refreshment at the open-air Tea House. On my most recent visit, K and I settled into our table-for-two with a pot of Sencha green tea, rice cakes, and edamame. The light-and-chewy rice cakes, in flavors like green tea, strawberry, and lychee, were more akin to sumptuous fruit candy than the crunchy cakes I’m more familiar with.
Located within Golden Gate Park, the Japanese Tea Garden was originally created in the 1890s and has a bittersweet history. Its symbolism as a place of respite not immune to the unfortunate race relations of World War II culminates, for me, in the graceful arch of the Moon Bridge, the central image of Marcia Savin’s children’s novel.
From top: The Moon Bridge; the garden where the Moon Bridge meets a foot bridge; the Zen Garden