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 is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city Yokohama that binds the two cultures to create a unique experience for visitors from all over the world. Representing a new concept in the development of a Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Japanese Friendship Garden is well known for its unique setting, stone arrangement, koi pond, exhibition hall and ornamental tree collection. As a valued asset to Balboa Park, the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego is also an educational resource to the community, providing a variety of seminars, classes and workshops as well as accredited horticultural classes. The Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego is proud to present a remarkable exhibition of a private collection of Japanese artifacts from around the world.

The second phase of the renovation project, designed by landscape architect Takeo Uesugi, added our Exhibit Hall, Activity Center, and Koi Pond.The Garden was re-opened in September 1999 and sits on a new site that covers 2 acres of its 11 acre plot. The Garden is currently in the midst of an expansion which will be completed in time for the centennial celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.

The third and final phase is set to be completed by 2015 for the Centennial Celebration of Balboa Park as a gift to the City of San Diego. This phase is comprised of 9 additional acres, which include a 200 Cherry Tree Grove, large Azalea and Camellia Garden, Tea & Herb Garden, Children's Garden and Tea Pavilion with an outdoor amphitheater. A portion of the canyon expansion will be open to the public by August 2013. 

Today, the Japanese Friendship Garden is visited by close to 100,000 people every year from all over United States and around the world. Legacies have helped in all stages of our development from the earliest days. It is our responsibility to continue to build upon this legacy and continue to promote friendship among diverse cultures.

The Garden’s expansion project will be 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 and horticulture. 

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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