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Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden is spread out over six acres, and is symbolic of the friendship between San Jose and its sister city of Okayama, Japan. The gardens include three ponds fully stocked with koi, a traditional tea house, cherry trees, and a Pagoda. This peaceful retreat is hidden behind walls on the Kelley Park property and is intended to be a mirror image of the famous Korakuen Gardens in Okayama, Japan. In November 2019 this symbol of American-Japanese relations in Kelley Park was open but undergoing long-term repairs after the California floods of February 2017. Landscaped in 1965, the Japanese Friendship Garden is designed after the Korakuen Garden in San Jose’s sister city of Okayama, which also supplied the koi for its three main ponds. You can forget the city for a hushed few minutes amid the garden’s ponds, tea house, stepping stones, bridges, waterfall and fastidiously tended shrubs, lawns and trees.

When the ponds are full they’re flocked by waterfowl like ducks and geese, but also the also the occasional great egret, easily spotted for its long slender neck. The Japanese Friendship Garden is a Japanese stroll garden located in Phoenix, Arizona. The garden encompasses 3.5 acres (14,000 m2) and includes a tea garden and tea house. It is a joint project of the sister cities of Phoenix, Arizona, and Himeji, Japan. The Japanese name is Rohō-en. In 2004 it was named by the City of Phoenix as one of the Phoenix Points of Pride. The Japanese name for the garden, Rohō-en, is a combination of three Japanese words. Ro means Heron, a bird symbol of Himeji City. Shirasagi-jō, or the White Heron Castle, is a 300-year-old medieval castle in Himeji. Hō is the Japanese word for the mythical Phoenix bird Fenghuang. En means garden.

Himeji, Japan became a Phoenix Sister City in November 1976 and is one of Phoenix’s ten Sister Cities around the globe. Phoenix and Himeji participate in business, governmental, cultural and educational exchanges that promote international goodwill and understanding. The Garden is the shared cultural vision of the cities of Phoenix and Himeji. The Japanese Friendship Garden is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in partnership with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and our Sister City of Himeji, Japan. Landscape architects from Himeji, Japan have made 60 trips to Phoenix and City of Phoenix delegations made five trips to Himeji since 1987. Overall, more than 50 architects from Himeji contributed to the project. The construction cost is estimated at $3.8 million by bond funds and $1.0 million by private donations. The first phase of the garden opened in November 1996. The rest of it opened to the public in 2002. The garden features more than 1,500 tons of hand picked rock, stone footbridges, lanterns and more than 50 varieties of plants. It includes streams, a 12-foot waterfall, and a Koi pond with over 300 Koi fish. One of the main attractions at the Japanese Friendship Garden is the Japanese Tea House. 3.5 total acres with a koi pond that is 5/8 of an acre. The Garden showcases more than 50 varieties of plants including two varieties of bamboo. The designers chose plant species that can withstand the rigors of a desert environment while still reflecting the serenity of a Japanese Garden. 1,500 tons of rock handpicked from quarries near Jerome, Superior, Congress and Florence line the stream beds, walking paths, lake shore and main lake waterfall.

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