At first, one might be surprised to find a Japanese-style tea garden in the heart of Texas, but it's one of San Antonio’s best and most overlooked locales. Originally called the Sunken Gardens, it was built on the site of an old quarry that was donated to the city by the president of the San Antonio Water Works Company. Today, the Japanese Tea Garden boasts one of the most beautiful stops in San Antonio, complete with koi fish, waterfalls, and a wide variety of plants for visitors to enjoy. The Jingu House Café is a popular destination within the gardens, operating year-round, albeit with different hours during the winter months.
Watch a preview of the garden in the video below:
The concept of the garden evolved as different people constructed new additions to the park, eventually coming together under the vision of an East Asian style garden. The Torii gate, in particular, was built by artist Dionicio Rodriguez from concrete using a unique style to imitate the look of wood.
Not all of the garden's history is positive, however. In the wake of the United States entrance into World War II, city officials temporarily renamed it the Chinese Garden, so that potential vandals wouldn’t target it.
You can also rent the Japanese Tea Garden to host private events with up to 50 people. It's the ideal location for a wedding or company luncheons, though the price changes as the size of your group increases. Professional photographers should know that hosting a photo shoot on the property requires a permit; however, cell phone photos are acceptable.
Cover image by Shiva Shenoy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.