The Japanese Friendship Garden is beloved by San Diegans and visitors alike. Whether the purpose of your visit is to find your spiritual center or admire the splendor of a trickling stream or a masterful garden, you will soon discover why the Garden is such a special and tranquil place.
The Japanese Friendship Garden is located in San Diego’s Balboa Park, the nation’s largest urban cultural park, and the most popular tourist destination in the city. The Zen design incorporates elements such as a traditional sand and stone garden, a koi pond with a central island shaped like a turtle to symbolize longevity, and a shishiodoshi —a bamboo pipe that fills with water until, like a see-saw, it tips and strikes the rock below, creating a noise that is meant to scare away evil spirits.
Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden is a three-tiered experience, named “San-Kei-En” in Japanese, which means “three scene garden”, and represents water, pastoral, and mountain scenes. While the garden is meant to capture the essence of Zen, an inherently Japanese element, it is truly a dual-cultured garden, and incorporates much of the local regional landscape and climate of Southern California in its beautiful scenes. This Friendship Garden serves as a monument to the friendship of the people of Japan and the United States, but also fosters a respect for the cultural arts, and a sense of awe at the beauty and quiet power of nature.
Here is a somewhat poetic look at some of the tranquil and inspirational scenes you will behold at the Japanese Friendship Garden, through the words and sentiments of its caretakers:
“The haunting sounds of the distant Shakuhachi drift in the air as we walk through the gate on the winding path into the garden.”
“ “The scenery of the Garden draws us outside the Exhibit House. Meandering the path, we walk toward the "Tsukubai" and its lantern (funatsuki). The drip of water accentuates the quiet. Startled, a cat slips by, caught sipping the water.”
“ “We sit under the "Fujidana", overwhelmed by the profuse purple blossoms. Transfixed by the "Sekitei", our gaze wanders among and between the mysterious rocks, then slips away to the arching trees and flowering plants. The serenity of the garden creates our sense of harmony with nature.”
The Japanese Friendship Garden will provide a place of respite, aesthetic value, and tranquility for you, and will bring an air of peace and completion to your San Diego trip. Let yourself go in a sanctuary where time is unimportant and enjoy the beauty and harmony of nature with your fellow travelers.