Jack Hirose Tea House Name Approved

Tea House at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission today approved naming the tea house in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park after the late Jack Hirose, a philanthropist who donated $500,000 through the San Francisco Japantown Foundation to fund improvements to the tea garden structures, including the tea house.

The effort to name the tea house after Hirose was led by the Foundation and supported by tea garden concessionaire Carol Murata and the staff of the city recreation and park department, notably department general manager Phil Ginsburg and department property manager Tom Hart.

After remarks by Hart, Japantown Foundation president Don Tamaki and board member Sandy Mori testified at the meeting and Murata showed the commissioners photos of the renovations. Mori and board members Bob Hamaguchi and Diane Matsuda were instrumental in making sure the community’s support for the naming of the tea house was communicated to the commission.

Commission President Mark Buell, Vice President Tom Harrison, and Commissioners Paige Arata, David Lee and Larry Martin voted unanimously in support of the new name.

Hirose was the concessionaire of the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in the 1960s, running the tea house and gift shop until 1992. Before taking over the concession, Hirose had already become one of the city’s first Asian American CPAs after having served in in World War II as part of the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service. During the war, Hirose and his family were forcibly relocated to the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, Calif., before being moved to the Topaz concentration camp in Utah. Read more about Jack’s life on nichibei.org.

In addition to approving the naming of the tea house after Hirose, the commission also approved the placement of a plaque to recognize Hirose and authorized the department general manager to approve the wording on the plaque.

A dedication ceremony for the new tea house name is planned for October 2011.

The San Francisco Japantown Foundation’s mission is to support cultural, community and educational activities for San Francisco Japantown. We are dedicated to preserving and honoring Japantown’s history, to welcoming and serving its residents, visitors, businesses, congregations and community organizations, and to supporting the growth and development of the community’s Japanese cultural theme. The Foundation provides grants to not-for-profit organizations, groups and individuals conducting projects aligned with or further the Foundation’s mission. For more information, visit http://sfjapantownfoundation.org.

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