Review: Japanese Friendship Garden offers artistic serenity for the eye and spirit

The Concordia Courier


By Morgan McGrath | 3/31/2023

Located within Balboa Park in San Diego, there is a tea garden called the Japanese Friendship Garden. It opened to the public in 1991 and was built as an expression of friendship to San Diego’s sister city, Yokohama. It has many exhibits within the area that are educational and beautiful. It is $14 general admission and $12 for students. This garden is a fun way to get in touch with nature and the culture’s history. 

The Japanese Friendship Garden has two levels. Right when I walked in, there was a cat that said hello. As I walked into the main level on stone paths, it was a pleasant surprise. There were water fountains, native plants and a tea house. There were also many statues of important figures such as Kannon Bosatsu, representing compassion and mercy, and Kongo Rikishi, a traditional statue found at the entrance of many Buddhist temples. Both intertwined with the culture and it felt like a different world. 

The garden had cool placements with the plants and bushes. I kept walking on the scenic paths until they led me to wonderful sights. When I got inside the tea house, it was a very peaceful place; quiet and serene. It had seating overlooking the garden through a big, twisted tree. There were artifacts on the walls that included paintings and pottery. 

Walking further into the main level, there was a bonsai tree exhibit. There were so many trees to look at. Some of the bonsai trees were over 100 years old. 

The stone paths started to lead to the second level of the garden. I was surrounded by trees and bushes walking down the slope. I heard running water and looked up to see a waterfall. There were stepping stones across the pond, surrounded by lily pads. Multiple koi ponds can be found throughout the area as well. 

It is a peaceful walk through the garden, filled with history and nature. It is a sweet escape from the busy city of San Diego. 

The Japanese Friendship Garden was a very cool experience for me. I had never been to a tea garden before. It was exciting to find a garden that was so educational. I thought about the culture behind all the exhibits. I also enjoyed all the scenery and plants. The waterfalls might have been my favorite part. 

Overall, the Japanese Friendship Garden was a fun outdoor activity that is inexpensive, yet very enjoyable. It is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Friendship Garden is an hour and a half drive from campus. The train station is about a two minute walk from Balboa Park, making it convenient if students wanted to take the train. The Japanese Friendship Garden is perfect for students who are looking for an inexpensive, fun day trip. 

For more information regarding the Japanese Friendship Garden, visit 



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