The Story Behind the Japanese Tea Garden’s Main Entry Gate

The original entry gate to the Japanese Tea Garden came from George Turner Marsh’s property in Mill Valley and was part of his “Japanese Village” exhibit at the Midwinter Fair of 1894.

Nearly 90 years later, in 1981, San Francisco’s Mayor Diane Feinstein and Osaka’s Mayor Yasushi Oshima began planning for restoration.


The entry gate from George Turner’s Marsh’s property located in Golden Gate Park in 1896.

Today’s gate replaced the original in 1985 and was designed by Kensuke Kawata, a third-generation temple carpenter, who hand-selected the Hinoki trees in Japan.

Did you know that our Shuro-no-mon (Main Entry Gate) that you see today was made using Japanese joinery techniques? This is a building process where intricate wooden joints hold the structure together as opposed to nails, glue, or other fasteners. 

Next time you visit the Japanese Tea Garden, take a moment to admire the Main Entry Gate and the careful craftsmanship that created it.

Marissa Fong

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