Unlike other American cities, signs of Japan can be found everywhere in San Francisco. In other cities, "Japan" tends to be confined to sushi bars and the occasional manga shop. In San Francisco, Japan is a part of the every day; it is ingrained in the city's soul.
From the neighborhood 7-11--stocked with "gummy" sweets and green peas snacks, Calbee BBQ corn chips and high chew gum (pictured at right)--to Japan Town, Japanese culture is ubiquitous.
Though the number of nissei continues to decline, and Japan Town has seen better days, Japan's influence remains strong.
Catering to the many tourists from Japan, Japanese hotels such as Hotel Nikko are well represented.
Moreover, a short ride from Union Square on a Muni light rail train, the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park could be in Kyoto. Getting off at 9th street, you walk down past the Hotei restaurant and Honda service garage and into the park.
The Japanese Tea Garden dates to 1894 and is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States. It now covers roughly five acres of Golden Gate Park. Within the garden, there are Japanese plants, many koi, stone lanterns, a Shinto shrine, and more.
A family of Japanese-Americans, the Hagiwaras, lived here from 1895 until they were evicted in 1942 during World War II, when all Americans of Japanese descent were forced into concentration camps. At the point, much of the garden fell into disrepair.
Today, it is a well-kept and popular tourist spot.
Japanese Tea Garden
9 AM to 6 PM daily.
$4 - adults
$1.50 - children (5 and under)
$1.50 - seniors (65 and up)
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