Japanese Tea Garden, San Antonio
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It is a delight to stroll around the Japanese Tea Garden in San Antonio. You walk lower and lower into the sunken garden and are greeted by koi ponds and an abundance of yellow, orange, and purple flowers. There is an island and past it, a high waterfall. Atop the rocks (the garden was a former rock quarry) is a Japanese pagoda strung with lanterns, where weddings are held. Little stone bridges are everywhere as are trees and topiaries galore, and it is so green that you can feast your eyes, especially after being in barren areas in the rest of Texas. What is lovely about the garden is how it is in so many different levels, not flat in the slightest. From the other side you can see little houses that used to be Mexican arts and crafts shops, and a Japanese torii gate made of cement that imitates wood.
The architecture of the pagoda and cafe is interesting and unique, as it's made of these flat stones that are piled on top of each other.
Some birds, such as a white egret, enjoy the garden.
If you come at lunchtime you can eat in the Jingu House Cafe (see hours below). Or head over to the Pearl District to eat in one of their hip cafes.
The garden is on land donated by Emma Koehler, the widow of the Pearl Brewery owner. Ray Lambert, the Parks Commissioner, came up with the idea of using the adjacent quarry to make a sunken garden. He used prison labor to shape the quarry, opening the park in 1919. The Japanese-American Jingu family were invited to open a tea garden cafe and live in the garden, in 1926. They operated the cafe until 1942 when they were evicted due to anti-Japanese sentiment. A Chinese-American family ran the tea room for a while and the garden was called the Chinese Sunken Garden. In 1984 the garden was rededicated as the Japanese Tea Garden in a ceremony attended by members of the Jingu family and representatives from Japan.
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The Japanese Tea Garden is located at 3853 N. St Mary's Street, San Antonio TX 78212.
Admission is free.
Open dawn to dusk.
Jingu House Cafe is open March-October daily 10-5. In November-February, it is open Tues-Fri 11-3 and weekends 10-5, closed Mondays.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.