Documenting in photography my visit to the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. This gorgeous garden and tea room sits in the middle of one of the largest tourist destinations of San Francisco- Golden Gate Park. If you are visiting the city, get there early to be sure to take a look at this rare gem!
Although the garden is notable in its own right, as with all tea gardens, it was created only as the gateway to the tea house enclosed within its gates. The design is classic Japanese, to allow the visitor to leave the hectic outside world, enter the enclosed garden and enjoy the peaceful approach to the tea house. The walk along the ‘dewy path’ allows the visitor to meditate and reflect on the classic elements of water, stone, expertly pruned plant specimens and focal points along the way.
All Japanese Gardens use traditional design elements that define their spaces.
These design elements can be identified here for use in contemporary gardens. They typically have the following components:
FOCAL POINTS and ELEMENTS OF SURPRISE: Japanese gardens use focal points to achieve elements of surprise as the visitor strolls down the path to the tea house. Focal points can be structural as in the pagoda, or they can be less obvious as in a gorgeous Japanese Maple, a lantern, an unusual rock formation, or a reflection on the large body of water.
HARMONY WITH NATURE:
Japanese design uses elements that, although might be man made, have a look and feel of something that could occur in nature. This design concept can be seen in the design of the bridge below. The lines of this element and color complement and blend in with the surrounding pines and plant material. It almost appears that the bridge arose and grew out of the forest floor.
SPACE: The use of open space in this type of garden is a design anchor and simple way of defining the area. In contemporary designs in the U.S.- almost all space is used up and consumed by design elements. In Japanese design, the use of bodies of water and other open areas allow for the visitor to fully ‘breath’ and take in the tranquility of the space. Space also creates drama in the use of open space with a single focal point, meant to tantalize the visitor particularly.
BALANCE: Japanese gardens achieve balance through the use of focal points and bilateral symmetry. This design concept can be seen in plantings and other design elements and their placement in groupings.
SIMPLICITY or elimination of clutter:
Japanese gardens use recurring simple themes and spaces to achieve balance. The use of stone, moss and spectacular specimen plantings or focal points illustrate this design concept.
The use of subtle beauty to be discovered by the visitor is classic to this type of garden. In the example above, some of the small subtleties of this garden may be missed by the hurried visitor.
The tea room! If you have a chance to visit this incredible city, try to make a stop to the Japanese Tea Garden. It will be a memorable and tranquil experience.
JAPANESE TEA GARDEN- Golden Gate Park
75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco CA 94118
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a practicing landscape architect out of the Greensboro, NC area since 1999. Wife, mother to three grown daughters and an ever expanding family.
Her website is www.HawkinsLA.com and her Blog is http://musings-of-a-gardendiva.blogspot.com/.