Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sunken Gardens

Our Anniversary is usually very predictable. Every year we do the same thing. This year was no exception. David always takes me to a Zoo and we have a nice dinner somewhere. It is simple, but it is our tradition. Since this year was our 10 year anniversary, David decided to spoil me. My parents kept the boys and his Dad kept our dogs for a whole week while David and I relaxed in San Antonio, Texas. We did the Zoo, but we kept missing our boys. Everywhere we looked there was something they would have loved. I think I am too attached to them.

The real star of our 'Zoo Day' was the Japanese Tea Garden or Sunken Gardens near the Zoo. A little history for everyone:

The Sunken Gardens were developed on land donated to the city in 1899 by George W. 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. 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. At the entrance to the garden, Mexican-born artist Dionicio Rodriguez (1891-1955) replicated a Japanese Torii gate in his unique style of concrete construction that imitated wood. In 1919, at the city's invitation, Kimi Eizo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. In 1926, they opened the Bamboo Room, where light lunches and tea were sold. Kimi and Miyoshi Jingu maintained the garden, lived in the park, and raised eight children. Kimi was a representative of the Shizuoka Tea Association and was considered an expert in the tea business nationally. He died in 1938, and 1941 the family was evicted with the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II. For years the garden sat in neglect and disrepair, becoming a target of graffiti and vandalism. Due to limited funding, the city threatened to close the garden, but the community and parks supporters rallied and lobbied to keep the park open. In 2005, the City used about $550,000 in bond money to reroof the pagoda-like Pavilion and the Jingu House. In 2007 they began a $1.6 million restoration campaign to restore the ponds and waterfall in conjunction with the City of San Antonio. For the public re-opening on March 8, 2008, Jingu family members returned to San Antonio. Mabel Yoshiko Jingu Enkoji, the sixth child of Kimi and Miyoshi Jingu, who was born at the Garden, was the senior Jingu family member at the event. In 2009, the San Antonio Parks Foundation and the City of San Antonio began work on the $1 million restoration of the historic Jingu house. Work was completed in October 2011. The building is now being operated as a restaurant by Fresh Horizons Creative Catering, serving light lunches as the Jingu family did in the 1930s.  (Wikipedia, 2012)
David really did not want to see the gardens but, once we were there, he was amazed. They are beautiful. I could have spent all day just walking around the flowers, ponds, and waterfall. I can not picture the huge, empty pit it was originally.


Wikipedia (2012) San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden, retrieved on 16 Aug 2012 from

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