by Eric Martinez | staff writer
Walking around the Japanese Tea Garden is a peaceful experience with its beautiful and bountiful beauty and history.
The Japanese Tea Garden located off of 281 at Mary’s, 3853 N St Mary’s St, San Antonio, TX 78212 , is a unique experience. The Pavilion above the garden gives an amazing view. The style of the pavilion feels different from the rest of the Garden. Its feel is on purpose to give it a slight sense of mystery before revealing the rest of the Garden below.
What makes the Japanese Tea Garden so special is its history. The Garden originated out of a quarry project and designed by Ray Lambert and his engineer W.S. Derly. They shaped the old quarry and cement kiln into a “lily garden” that was renovated in 2008 into what it is today.
The garden is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the best time to go is in the morning when and the afternoon when the lighting is the best for pictures and the parking near and around the garden is empty. The sunset gifts the garden a mythical feel and allows the colors of the flowers and the trees to radiate more.
What is more interesting is the sign at the entrance of the garden that says ‘Chinese Tea Garden’ instead of its official name ‘Japanese Tea Garden’. This change tells the story of racism in World War II.
The garden was taken care of by Kimi Eizo Jingu and his family till his death in 1938. Three years later the rest of his family was kicked out of the garden and replaced by a Chinese-American family, Ted and Ester Wu, three years later. The garden’s name was changed due to vandalism of other Japanese Tea Gardens across the U.S. The name change kept the garden from being vandalized and the name wouldn’t be changed back for forty-seven years.
Luckily the Garden kept its Japanese feel from the waterfall to the coy pond. Renovations to the Garden were done after 1988 leaving the changes faithful to the art style. The waterfall still looks amazing and the plants are designed to look like comfortable corridors.
The Japanese Tea Garden beauty and design is unique to San Antonio’s other attractions. Both a spectacular photo site and a peaceful place to walk around make the garden a location worth visiting and revisiting.