In San Francisco, there is actually the oldest public Japanese Tea Garden in the United States. It was originally in an exhibit within the 1894 Midwinter International Exposition. After the exposition left, the creator, landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara maintained the garden and became a caretaker of the property. He was known to have put all of his income and creativity into it, and expanded the gardens to about five acres where he dwelled until 1942 when he and his family were forced into internment camps. At this time, about 120,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly put into camps.
After World War 2, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to move back to their home, and over the years, many Hagiwara family treasures have been removed and new additions took their place. I think it is important to know the history of a place when you visit, and respect the lives that created it.
Another interesting historical note, and this one is a according to family members of Makoto Hagiwara, is that he introduced fortune cookies to the United States. Apparently, he had a special iron mold to create them on his site, and when they became more popular in the area, he hired the San Francisco confectioner Benkyodo to make fortune cookies in larger quantities. He modified them slightly, and created a sweeter version for the States with a vanilla flavoring to them. The gardens do currently have a Tea House on the property where they have Japanese refreshments, and fortune cookies tucked into their bowl of rice crackers or arare. It is amazing to think about the historical context of the fortune cookies, and how much of an impact Makoto Hagiwara has had on society.
If you are in the Bay Area and can visit this historic landmark, I would recommend it! It is one of the most elegant and calming places to visit, and the garden is one to appreciate. I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to click that subscribe button!
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