Japanese Tea Gardens (Sunken Gardens)

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3875 N St. Mary's St.
San Antonio, TX 78212




What started in 1918 as a simple lily pond built out of an old rock quarry is now a lush year-round Japanese garden. A 2008 renovation added shaded walkways, stone bridges, a 60-foot waterfall and ponds filled with koi. Informative signs reveal the garden's interesting history. In 1920, Ray Lambert, commissioner of parks, had several small houses built on the site. Lambert envisioned a tourist attraction for selling Mexican arts and crafts. In 1926, a local Japanese-American artist, Kimi Eizo Jingu, opened the Bamboo Room on the site. The restaurant sold light lunches and tea. He and his family lived on-site and also worked in the gardens. At the dawn of World War II, Jingu and has family were evicted as a result of widespread anti-Japanese sentiment. The site was renamed the Chinese Sunken Garden; in 1984, the original name was restored.


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