Thursday, May 12, 2016

Japanese Gardens #1: The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

This week, rather than focusing on the output of a single artist, I thought I would instead concentrate on images of a single subject, namely, Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco, California.  This garden has the distinction of being the oldest extant public Japanese garden in North America.

 Japanese Village at the California Midwinter International Exposition (1894)
Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

This garden has its origins in the Japanese Village at the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, built during the height of the Japanese craze in America.  Makoto Hagiwara, a wealthy Japanese landscape designer, subsequently approached John McLaren, who is credited with much of the overall design of Golden Gate Park, to convert the temporary exhibit into a permanent section of the park.  Over time, the Hagiwara family would expand the original one acre tract into a five acre site with gardens, bridges, a tea house (where the first fortune cookies were introduced to Americans), a Shinto shrine, a wooden Buddha statue, a koi pond, and a five-story "Treasure Tower" pagoda that was originally built for the Fair Japan concession at the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.

"Treasure Tower" pagoda, Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park
Courtesy of Daryl Mitchell

In 1942, the Hagiwara family was evicted from their home and interned, and the City of San Francisco thereafter took control of the garden.  The Shinto shrine and wooden Buddha were destroyed (although the Buddha was later replaced with a bronze Buddha), the site of the Hagiwara home was turned into a sunken garden, and the pagoda was moved to the former location of the Shinto shrine.  Over the years, further additions and renovations have been made to the garden, and it remains one of San Francisco's most popular tourist spots.

Original Main Gate Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park
Courtesy of Erik Sumiharu Hagiwara-Nagata

It should come as no surprise this Japanese Tea Garden has appeared in a number of prints by California artists, particularly those living in the Bay Area.  Clemie C. Smith exhibited this Whistleresque view of the Main Gate at the First International Print Makers Exhibition at the Museum of History, Science and Art, March 1-31, 1920:

Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (c. 1920) by Clemie C. Smith
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
(etching)

A new Main Gate entrance was built in 1985 on the original 1894 site.  As can be seen, it is quite faithful to the original gate as shown in Arthur W. Palmer's etchings, which he issued in black and white and colored versions.

The Main Gate Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park
Courtesy of Dyer9380

Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (c. 1945) by Arthur W. Palmer
Courtesy of The Annex Galleries
(etching)

 Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (c. 1945) by Arthur W. Palmer
Courtesy of edanhughes.com
(colored etching)

Immediately inside the Main Gate is a Monterey pine that was planted there by Makoto Hagiwara around the turn of the last century.  Gene Kloss depicts this pine and the rear of the Main Gate in her 1930 etching.

Rear of the Main Gate, Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

 
  Japanese Tea Garden (1930) by Gene Kloss
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
(soft ground etching and aquatint)

Harriet Roudebush similarly chose to illustrate the entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden from inside of the Main Gate in large and small formats, yet the pine tree is noticeably absent in her prints.

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden (c. 1930s?) by Harriet Gene Roudebush
Personal Collection
(etching)

Japanese Tea Garden (c. 1930s?) by Harriet Gene Roudebush
Personal Collection
(etching)

Rear of the Main Gate, Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (c. 2000)
Courtesy of the Holy Mountain Trading Company
  
The only print that I could find that actually concentrates more on the garden's vegetation than on the physical structures found in the garden is this lithograph by Florence Elizabeth Atkins:

 Japanese Tea Garden (1936) by Florence Elizabeth Atkins
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
(lithograph)

But for its title, it would otherwise be hard to associate this print by Augusta Payne Rathbone with any specific Japanese garden.

 Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (c. 1940) by Augusta Payne Rathbone
Courtesy of The Annex Galleries
(etching & color aquatint)

Because the "Treasure Tower" occupies the site of the former Shinto shrine, the garden's torii now incongruously faces the Buddhist pagoda instead.  Harriet Roudebush also depicted this torii in one of her etchings.

Torii in the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park
Courtesy of Roger Wollstadt

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park (c. 1930s?) by Harriet Gene Roudebush
Personal Collection
(etching)

Loren R. Barton contributed a "Japanese Bridge" etching to the Fourth International Print Makers Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum Exposition Park (March 1-31, 1923).  I have been unable to locate an image of her etching, but it is possible that it might depict one of the bridges in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park such as the Half Moon Bridge or the Long Bridge.  No doubt other prints of this garden park exist, and I encourage readers to let me know about other such prints of which they are aware.


For additional information about the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, see Brown, Kendall H., "Rashômon: The Multiple Histories of the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park," Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes, 18:2 (April 1998).  For an excellent photographic survey of this and other Japanese gardens, I recommend the book Quiet Beauty: Japanese Gardens of North American (Tuttle 2013), also by Dr. Kendall H. Brown.

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