About Us


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 garden.



The Japanese Friendship Garden ("the Garden") is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture. The Garden's design is based on centuries-old Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego's climate and florae and seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity, and aestheticism.

The Garden sits on a 12-acre plot. It offers a variety of educational programs, exhibits, and festivals as well as accredited horticultural classes to enhance and deepen visitor appreciation for Japanese culture. As a valued community resource, it is well known for its unique setting, stone arrangements, koi ponds, water features, sukiya-style buildings and landscape. 

The Japanese Friendship Garden was first opened in 1991. The second phase, opened in 1999, was designed by renowed landscape architect Takeo Uesugi. This phase added the Exhibit Hall, Activity Center, and Koi Pond. The third phase, completed in 2015, comprised 9 additional acres which included a 200 cherry tree grove, large azalea and camellia garden, a water feature reminiscent of the San Diego watershed, and the state of the art Inamori Pavilion.

Today, the Japanese Friendship Garden is visited annually by close to 100,000 people from all over United States and around the world. The Garden is our gift to the citizens of San Diego as we continue to provide the community with educational programs to foster better understanding of Japanese culture. We are thankful to the citizens of San Diego who have helped in throughout our development. We feel it is our responsibility to build upon this legacy and continue to promote friendship among diverse cultures.

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a member of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a collaboration of 26 arts, science, and culture institutions in Balboa Park. By working together we produce major outcomes that no single organization could achieve alone. Benefits of our Partnership include:

  • Collective cost savings of $800,000 annually
  • Improved organizational performance and creation of new resources (knowledge, innovation, and networks)
  • New financial resources--since 2008 the Partnership has brought $4.2 million in new revenue to Balboa Park
  • Improved public accessibility and safety through capital improvements and ADA upgrades
  • Reduction of Balboa Park’s carbon footprint by 5.4 million kWhs and 91,000 therms annually, the equivalent of 110 homes.
  • Training of more than four thousand Park staff and volunteers to improve professional practice and visitor experience.

To learn more about the many ways our collaboration makes the Park a better place to visit, learn, and have fun, please visit the Partnership's website at www.bpcp.org.




  • Award for Leadership and Commitment in the Advancement of the Asian Community of San Diego
  • “Merit Award” by American Society of Landscape Architects Southern California Chapter in recognition of Outstanding Professional Achievement
  • Two outstanding volunteers received an award from The Friends of Balboa Park Millenium for their years of commitment to the Japanese Friendship Garden and Balboa Park
  • Commitment and Dedication to San Diego Unified School District
  • Special recognition from the Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins and Senator Chris Kehoe for its Historical Background and Achievements.
  • Asian Heritage Awards for Arts and Culture
  • Southern California Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects “Quality of Life Celebration”
  • 2013 Historical Heritage Excellence Award from San Diego Filipino American Humanitarian Foundation, Inc.
  • 2014 AAM Media & Technology Gold Award for the "JFG Haiku Hunt App" 


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