In 1899, George Washington Brackenridge, founder of the San Antonio Water Works Company, built the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden (also known as the Sunken Gardens) in the U.S. state of Texas on property donated to the City. German masons first broke the ground about 1840, using the easily available limestone to supply the building industry. Many structures in San Antonio, including the Menger Hotel, were constructed on the Rock Quarry Road, with the stone from this quarry.
Mexican-born artist Dionicio Rodriguez (1891-1955) reproduced a Japanese Torii gate at the entrance to the garden, in his distinctive concrete construction style that imitated wood. Kimi Eizo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, relocated to the garden in 1919, at the invitation of the community. They opened the Bamboo Room in 1926, where they served simple lunches and tea. The garden was tended by Kimi and Miyoshi Jingu, living in the park, and parenting eight children. Kimi was a Shizuoka Tea Association delegate, and was considered nationally an authority in the tea industry. He passed in 1938, and with the rise of World War II anti-Japanese sentiment the family was expelled in 1941.
The garden was changed to the Chinese Tea Garden, as many other cities ‘ Japanese tea gardens were being vandalized to avoid the tea garden’s razing and destruction during World War II. Up until the early 1960s a Chinese-American couple, Ted and Ester Wu, opened a pagoda snack bar. In 1984, under the leadership of Mayor Henry Cisneros, the town restored the original “Japanese Tea Garden” name in a ceremony attended by Jingu’s children and Japanese government representatives.
In March 2008 the Japanese Tea Garden reopened with a pomp and ceremony that included a serenade of Japanese songs by Japanese students from Tafoyalla Middle School, Carol Gulley’s keyboard, calligraphy and origami demonstrations, and a large Koi-shaped cake. The garden was closed when the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department and the San Antonio Parks Foundation performed renovation of the facility’s facilities, including walkways, plumbing, filtration, restoration of walls and sealing of ponds. The revamped garden showcases a lush garden throughout the year, and a flower display with shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and Koi-filled ponds.The operation cost $1,587,470 from public and private sources including San Antonio Community, San Antonio Parks Foundation, and Parks Friends.
The ceremony was attended by members of the Jingu family, who lived and worked in the Garden in the 1920s, along with the relatives of Ray Lambert, the Park Commissioner who had devised the concept of transforming an abandoned rock quarry into a “lily pond.” The Parks Foundation is planning the next renovation process, which will include lighting to the lower garden. The Japanese Tea Garden features rentable areas that are suitable for small weddings, a memorial service, and a large corporate meeting space, not to mention the renovated Jingu House Café.
The Japanese Tea Garden is open daily from sunup to sundown, and is obtainable for wheelchair users. In addition, the Jingu House and patio, together with the pavilion and waterfall area, are accessible by advance reservation for weddings, luncheons or other special events.
This serene attraction is located in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, along with these other must-see attractions for you to check out:
The San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park & Mission Trail
San Fernando Cathedral
Natural Bridge Caverns
Pearl District and Farmers Market
Historic Market Square (El Mercado)
San Antonio Museum of Art
And after your visit make sure to stop by the best CBD Store in Helotes, Mary Jane’s CBD Dispensary, on Bandera Road!