A trip to the Japanese Tea Garden

Golden Gate Park's Japanese Tea Garden is now free to San Francisco residents, so we learned about Japan and took a field trip.

A Japanese structure, brightly painted red with a peaked roof, overlooks a manicured garden.
The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco

A few weeks ago, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park became free for all San Francisco residents. Wanda hadn't been since she was a baby, and had no memory of it. This called for a field trip, and an Acorn Airlines trip to Japan! We went first thing Wednesday morning, when the gardens opened at 9am. Wanda's dad took the morning off from work to join us.

Wanda was blown away. I can't think of a time I've seen her more full of awe and wonder. She was a steady stream of "wooooow!" and "woooooow!" and also "woooooow!" She loved every bit of it. She even wanted her picture taken in front of the restrooms (there was a particularly good tree).

Geography Now! Japan

When we returned home, we spent the rest of the day learning about Japan. We watched the Geography Now! video about Japan, and followed that up by re-watching the Bill Wurtz History of Japan video.

history of japan by bill wurtz

We read about Shintoism from our book about the religions of the world, and reflected on Shinto features of the Tea Garden we'd seen that morning. During lunch we watched My Neighbor Totoro. Our Blu-Ray had a wonderful bonus feature (in Japanese and for a Japanese audience, with English subtitles) about the actual locations in Japan that inspired the making of the film. We then discussed the many aspects of the movie that were wonderful depictions of Shintoism.

A scene from My Neighbor Totoro, with Totoro and the girls on a branch in a high tree overlooking rice fields.
My Neighbor Totoro
The cover of the book Tales of Japan, with elegant character drawings, and a ceramic mug with a baby coming out of a peach.
My Momotaro mug, and our Tales of Japan book

In the afternoon, we read from our new Tales of Japan book. We read the story of Momotaro, a.k.a. Peach Boy. I brought out an old Momotaro mug that shows the moment Momotaro emerges from the split peach. We sipped tea and ate Pocky while we read.

For dinner, we had sushi and edamame (Wanda loves edamame), and we finished the day with ice cream mochi.

We feel extraordinarily fortunate to have the Japanese Tea Garden nearby, and even more lucky now that we can visit it as often as we'd like.

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