The Japanese Tea Garden is a registered Texas historic landmark. It is also registered on the national register of historic places. The gardens are built on land that used to be a limestone rock quarry located in Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas. It is also referred to as the sunken garden.
The idea of the garden was first visualized by Ray Lambert, a commissioner of the city parks, back in 1917. His engineer developed the plans but nothing happened then due to lack of funds. Work on the park began in late 1918 after individual and private donors gave funds for the project.
The ground work for the walkways, the bridges and the pagoda was done using prison labor. They shaped the garden into what it is today, creating all the intricate Japanese architecture seen on the garden. The entrance to the garden is a Japanese Torii gate that was done by the artist Dionicio Rodriguez.
The gate is made of concrete but replicates the wooden Japanese Torii gates so realistically. In 1919, the construction of the garden came to an end, after which it was christened. Afterwards, a house was constructed on the site and the Jingu family, a Japanese family, was moved into the garden to act as overseers of the project.
In 1926, Jingu started selling tea on the upper level of their house. Jingu was considered a tea master for his knowledge of teas. He died in 1936 and his family lived in the house at the garden until 1941, during the onset of the World War II.
There was resentment of the Japanese during the war so the general developed fears that the Jingu family could be in danger and that the garden could be vandalized. This caused the family to be moved from the site and the name was changed to Chinese Tea Garden.
The inscriptions were put on the gate of the garden. The attraction has undergone renovations recently to maintain it and give it the glory it has lost over the years.
The garden is a place with a rich history. You will be walking on walkways and standing on a pagoda carved out by prison laborers back in the 20th century. There are also water ways and bridges with small flower islands. Most of the plants in the garden were imported from Japan so you will enjoy seeing a whole lot of exotic flowers and plants.
In the waters are koi fish swimming and hoping you throw in some food. The garden is the perfect place to enjoy a serene, tranquil and relaxing atmosphere as you sip on some tea or enjoy some light lunches from the restaurant.
From the water features, the stone work, the plants, the walkways and the waterfall, everything in the garden just blends you in with nature. It is a breathtaking experience. The garden is located on the way to the San Antonio Zoo and across lies the Brackenridge Park. With no entrance charges, pop into the Japanese Tea Gardens the next time you visit San Antonio for an exceptional, relaxing experience.