The following information is from the Internet Tours Website:
The Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park is the type of Japanese garden known as a wet walking garden, although it has a Zen garden, or dry garden area as well. The Japanese Tea Garden was first developed as the Japanese Village at the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, or World's Fair, which was held in the area that is now the Music Concourse. Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.
John McLaren, who is credited with much of the overall design and development of Golden Gate Park, was approached by Makoto Hagiwara, a wealthy Japanese landscape designer, with the idea of converting the temporary exhibit into a permanent section of the park. Baron Makoto Hagiwara actually constructed the garden, its pavilions and tea house. Designed in a rustic style to address the rugged site and its surroundings, the original Japanese Tea Garden included a large public area and small private area for the Makoto Hagiwara family.
This increased the size of the garden to about five acres, considerably larger than the original one acre exhibit. In addition to the landscaping and construction of several structures, Mr. Hagiwara imported many plants, bronzes, goldfish, rare Japanese birds, statues— including perched and spread winged eagles, a Shinto Shrine, a porcelain lantern, a wooden Buddha and much more.
The Hagiwara family lived in, maintained and enhanced the Japanese Tea Garden from 1895 until 1942 and the beginning of World War II, when they were forced to evict and relocate to concentration camps with other Americans of Japanese descent. The garden was renamed The Oriental Tea Garden, many structures were demolished or moved from their original locations, sculptures disappeared and plants died or were relocated.
While much of the original Japanese Tea Garden is gone, there is plenty to see and enjoy today. The name Japanese Tea Garden was officially reinstated in 1952. A 9000 pound Lantern of Peace, purchased with contributions from the children of Japan, and presented on their behalf as a symbol of friendship toward future generations, was installed in 1953.