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San Antonio, Texas

Japanese Tea Garden

A gorgeous garden oasis with winding paths, stone bridges, and a troubling history. 

A gorgeous garden oasis breathes new life into a shuttered quarry. Stone trails meander through the grounds, leading explorers over quaint stone bridges that criss-cross tranquil patches of blue-green water.

In its past life, the Japanese Tea Garden was a rock quarry that had been given to the city of San Antonio. When city officials decided to transform it into a lily pond and garden in the early 20th century, they turned to a Japanese family with an intimate knowledge of the subject. As the family became the caretakers, they worked with the city to develop the old quarry into a picturesque paradise by adding wandering paths, stone bridges, and a large pagoda. They also served light lunches and tea.

Sadly, the family was relocated in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack and the garden was rebranded as a Chinese tea garden. The family was among the many that were rounded up and placed in camps as backlash against Japanese-Americans ensued nationwide. Once the war was over, the name of the garden was changed back to the Japanese Tea Garden permanently.

San Antonio took complete control of the garden in the early 2000s after some years of neglect and vandalism. The city put over a million dollars worth of repairs and restorations into it. Today, the garden offers the city a glimpse of Asian architecture and garden design. Stone paths and bridges, koi ponds, a pagoda, and waterfalls all add to its beauty. Meander down to see the koi and turtles while butterflies and hummingbirds inspect the many flowers and plants nearby. Be sure to take photographs and explore the bamboo patch.

Know Before You Go

It's an active excursion for any nice day, is open year round, and is completely free.