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Japanese Gardens - Bay Area Attractions

Updated on August 6, 2014

Japanese Gardens


By Thomas Gilbert

The Bay Area is a top tourism destination in America for many reasons. The combination of cutting-edge urban development and beautifully preserved parks, harbors, and bays give visitors the best of both city and country life. It has sights and activities for people with all kinds of interests: food and wine lovers can enjoy some of the worlds finest wineries and restaurants in Napa Valley, history buffs can take in sites like Mission Dolores, and the Muir Woods in Mill Valley is perfect for hikers. For those who are looking for a peaceful, relaxing afternoon, take a look at some of the Bay Area's finest examples of Japanese garden design.

The Hayward Japanese Gardens

The Hayward Japanese Gardens is a beautiful 3.5 acre site in the cities downtown area. At the helm of master gardener Kimio Kimura, the garden was designed to match the traditional garden design principles of Japan. This is most evident in the wood work, as it has no stains, and all nails and fasteners are recessed for an aged, natural feeling. Stones and plants native to California are used throughout, as an homage to the agricultural history of the state. The garden is open daily from 10am to 4pm.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden has graced the UC Berkeley campus for nearly 70 years. When the Golden Gate International Exposition closed in 1939, the contents of the Japanese garden exhibit was donated the to the school on behalf of the Japanese Government and the UC Japanese Alumni Association. The garden features nearly 1000 specimens of Japanese plants, as well as native stonework, lanterns and a pool. Although the garden suffered major damage during a rainstorm in 1962, many original artifacts were recovered and maintained. The Garden is open daily from 9am-5pm.

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

The Japanese Tea Garden is one the biggest attractions of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The oldest public Japanese Garden in the United States, it was established in 1894 as an exhibit of the California Midwinter International Exposition. After the conclusion of the fair, Japanese landscape architect was hired to expand and maintain the garden as a permanent fixture of the park. The large, 5 acre garden features classic elements such as pagodas, stone lanterns, stepping stone paths, koi ponds, and a zen garden. The garden is open from 9am to 6pm in the Summer, 9am to 4:45pm in the Winter.

Landscaping Legend: Kimio Kimura

When talking about the development of Japanese gardens in the Bay Area, its hard not to mention Kimio Kimura. Kimura received his Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from UC Berkeley and then went to work for the Hayward Area Recreation and Park Department, designing and tending to their Japanese gardens for 30 years. During this time, Kimura shared his techniques and particular style of landscaping with the dozens of volunteers at the garden. In fact, he still holds a monthly informal lecture for those willing to learn.

Source: Tamate Landscaping of San Francisco

A Closer Look at the Japanese Tea Garden

show route and directions
A markersan francisco japanese garden -
Japanese Tea Garden, 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
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B markerhayward japanese garden -
Japanese Gardens, 22325 North 3rd Street, Hayward, CA 94546, USA
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C markerUC Berkeley botanical garden -
Botanical Garden Lot, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94705, USA
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