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An oasis of serenity exists in the midst of bustling San Francisco. A feeling of peace will envelop you as you stroll through the Japanese Tea Gardens in Golden Gate Park.

Meandering along quiet paths and over bridges, you can observe Japanese maple trees, cherry trees, azaleas, dwarf cypress and cedar trees, and ponds teeming with koi. Pagodas, bronze and stone sculptures, and waterfalls give a Zen-like feeling to the gardens.

A large statue of a sitting Buddha awaits at the eastern end of the Long Bridge. Cast in bronze in Japan in 1790, Buddha was added to the gardens in 1949.

Many visitors come to meditate. Others come to paint or sketch.

Gardening is an art form in Japan. Selected stones and plants are arranged in harmony with the landscape.

Stop in at the tea house for a cup of green or jasmine tea and cookies served by a waitress donned in a colorful silk kimono.

Originally designed by Japanese gardener Makoto Hagiwara for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the tea gardens are open daily. Admission is $5.00 (cash only). Monday, Wednesday and Friday you can see the gardens for free if you enter between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m.

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