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Japanese Tea Gardens, San Antonio

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The San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden, or Sunken Gardens in Brackenridge Park, San Antonio, Texas, USA opened in an abandoned limestone rock quarry in the early 20th century. It was known also as Chinese Tea Gardens, Chinese Tea Garden Gate, Chinese Sunken Garden Gate and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden in the U.S. state of Texas was developed on land donated to the city in 1899 by George Washington Brackenridge, president of the San Antonio Water Works Company. The ground was first broken around 1840 by German masons, who used the readily accessible limestone to supply the construction market. Many San Antonio buildings, including the Menger Hotel, were built with the stone from this quarry on the Rock Quarry Road.
In 1880 the Alamo Cement Company was incorporated and produced cement for 26 years in the kiln, the chimney of which still stands today. Supporting the workforce of the quarry was a small "village", populated primarily by Mexican-Americans who worked the site. They and their families became popular with tourists, who purchased pottery, hand woven baskets, and food.
About 1917, City Parks Commissioner Ray Lambert visualized an oriental-style garden in the pit of the quarry. His engineer, W.S. Delery, developed plans, but no work began until individual and private donors provided funds in 1918. Lambert used prison labor to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
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Japanese Tea Gardens reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
1,814 reviews
  • The gardens are very pretty but we almost didn't get to see them. We (and a lot of others) parked at the tea garden parking lot and found two different gates that were locked. We decided to walk...  more »
  • A gem! This is a free garden and so beautiful. A Koi pond makes for a perfect backdrop for photo opportunities. I went on a Sunday afternoon and although it was quite crowded, it felt peaceful. For.....  more »
  • Very beautiful location! Easy to access as well. Some spots are absolutely breathtaking. Highly recommend for photography. We ended up buying a photo pass online before we arrived, but once we got there we were never asked and we noticed many other people casually taking pictures without having to have a permit either. I would say that if it’s on a weekend, don’t bother to buy one; save your $25. The cafe is mediocre and that’s part of why I am giving 3 stars instead of 5. It is also very clearly not authentic Japanese food (Americanized/American cooks) and it is also way overpriced. The staff, especially the old woman who brought the food out to our table, was also very overbearing - and frankly, annoying. I wouldn’t order from the cafe again. Go eat at an actual Japanese restaurant if you want authentic Japanese food and don’t waste your time at the cafe. I would rate the cafe 1 Star. The location and area, without the cafe, I would rate 5.
  • Such a beautiful attraction! It’s free and the parking isn’t terrible! It’s a great little stop for when the zoo is overflowing since it’s right down the road.They offer free yoga workshops every now and then as well! Lastly, this is also a fantastic photo op for all sorts of occasions. If I recall correctly, it does have disability access but not all the way throughout the property.

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