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Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego

(3.5/5 based on 170+ reviews on the web)
The mission of the Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego is to educate, engage, and inspire present and future generations of diverse backgrounds about Japanese culture and community legacy through exhibits, programs, and the preservation of a Japanese-style garden.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The Japanese Friendship Garden is a peaceful enclave in Balboa Park. It's a must-see in San Diego. The sculptured gardens and blooming plants give visitors a nice rest from the busy park and city. Unf...  more »
  • Nice garden but, for $14 you don't see a whole lot. Fortunately, we had an explorer pass. The area by the stream is pretty with the trees are in bloom.  more »
  • Since I've been to gardens in Japan, I have a high standard. This garden was small and peaceful, but didn't compare to what I've seen. Avoid the restaurant that's near the entrance to the garden. The ...  more »
Google
  • The Japanese Friendship Garden is a hidden Balboa Park gem. For years I have been visiting Balboa Park and never noticed it was there. It is next to the Organ Pavilion. I really enjoyed walking around the garden not so long ago with my mom. I felt peaceful just seating there. Highly recommended. There is a fee to get in.
  • I've been here when its crowded and then later on when its empty. Obviously its much nicer when its quiet. The gardens are serene and lovely to admire. There are spots one can sit and take it all in and mediate. Or if you prefer, paths to walk along and observe every detail.
  • The Japanese Friendship Garden is one of the jewels of Balboa Park. The recent expansion has greatly increased the size and features of the garden, and made good use of what was previously an underutilized area of the park. The garden hosts an increasing number of public events featuring asian culture, as well as private events such as weddings. As with most such expansions, there have been some negative impacts. Fees have increased (although they were quite low before), and the attached teahouse (the one outside, not the one in the lower garden) has been "improved" and re-organized from a unique gift-shop filled with Japanese/asian snacks to a theme-park-style counter-service restaurant. Still, annual membership in the garden is a great deal for families, as it includes reciprocal admission to all of the hundreds of gardens belonging to the American Horticultural Society (AHS). This means that if you have a membership to the JFG you can get into any of the AHS gardens for free, including the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, the San Diego Botanical Garden (formerly Quail Gardens) in Encinitas, Casa Romantica in San Clemente, and the Sherman Library and Gardens in Newport Beach. Fun fact: The "friendship" portion of the name, Japanese Friendship Garden, is a reference to San Diego's relationship as sister-city with Yokohama, Japan. On the side of the path just outside the entrance to the garden sits a stone book, inscribed in English and Japanese. I can confirm that a copy of this book sits in Yamashita Park in Yokohama, near the Guardian of the Water statue, which was given to Yokohama by San Diego.
  • I have trouble giving a Japanese "Friendship" Garden any more stars then two when nothing to do with friendship came to mind while there. "KANEICHEUA" is not the warm far-eastern greeting I expected to hear from the lady behind the ticket booth and for good reason; as she was preoccupied in helping my girlfriend and her son buy tickets I snuck through unnoticed with my dog Lil' Heis free of charge into the unknown. Once I was far enough into the garden Lil' Heis and I turned around and copped a quick see at the scene back at the ticket booth. To my surprise I watched the people I was with being turned around and walking back out the front gate, slumped over and now carrying something new with them previously not had before I abandoned then only moment prior... Frowns! The frowns on their faces showed me that I was not going to be allowed to finish my quest with a completed mark on this stage due to my compassion towards the ones I was with and the trouble they surly were in. They turned my party my party away at the entrance because they didn't have the correct amount money on them move forward. Thus putting a damper on in our game of life and the "friendship garden" bonus stage that includes many necessary powerups and extra lives for the unknown and dangerous Road ahead. Apart from all that imaginative fun, from what I did see of the place I couldn't reccomend it for any price more then free.
  • Bigger than I thought it would be. Great value for the price. Beautifully landscaped gardens featuring a koi pond, bonsai trees and a babbling brook. Very tranquil, nice peaceful place to commune with nature.