The Japanese Tea Garden was originally built as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition.
After the conclusion of the World's Fair, Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant and gardener, approached John McLaren with the idea to convert the temporary exhibit into a permanent park. Hagiwara personally oversaw the building of the Japanese Tea Garden and was official caretaker of the garden from 1895 to 1925.
The first evidence of fortune cookies in the United States is in connection with this tea garden. The descendants of Makoto Hagiwara lay claim to introducing the fortune cookie to the United States from Japan. Visitors to the garden were served fortune cookies made by a San Francisco bakery, Benkyodo.
It is now known that fortune cookies originated in Japan as early as 1878.