The tea house in Golden Gate Park on Oct. 20, 2011, was dedicated in honor of 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.
Today’s dedication ceremony included a ribbon cutting at the front gate of the tea garden, a traditional raising of a thousand paper cranes, release of koi into the garden’s pond and a traditional breaking of a sake barrel. Previous to the event, a plaque honoring Hirose was placed on the wall of the tea house.
Emceed by Benh Nakajo, the program included remarks by Consul General of Japan Hiroshi Inomata, San Francisco Recreation and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg, San Francisco Japantown Foundation President Donald Tamaki and Don Hirose, Jack’s son. Inomata joined San Francisco Supervisors Eric Mar and Ross Mirkarimi in the sake barrel breaking.
Members of Hirose’s family were present with friends and community members, as well as representatives from the San Francisco Japantown Foundation, the San Francisco Parks Alliance, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission, the San Francisco Recreation and Park department.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission on Aug. 18 approved naming the tea house after Hirose, who 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.
Hirose, a founding member of the Japantown Foundation board, died on Dec. 25, 2009. He was 86.
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.
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.
The San Francisco Japantown Foundation’s mission is to support cultural, community and educational activities for San Francisco Japantown. The Foundation provides grants to not-for-profit organizations, groups and individuals conducting projects aligned with or further the Foundation’s mission.