The Japanese Friendship Garden is designed to present an atmosphere of elegant simplicity (shibui) and quiet beauty.  Representing a new concept in the development of a Japanese garden outside of Japan, the design is guided by the original principles of the Japanese garden while incorporating elements of the regional landscape and climate.  A garden is always in a state of change but the basic elements of trees, shrubs, rocks and water designed in natural balance create a peaceful, harmonious, and transcendental environment conducive to contemplation and meditation. 

These are some of its elements

Entrance Plaza:

The Plaza welcomes visitors with its inviting space.  It is open to the westerly winds and, symbolically, to Yokohama, San Diego's sister city.


The Entrance Stone:

To the right of the Entry Gate, the Entrance Stone is inscribed with the kanji symbols of the Garden's name, San-Kei-En.  The Stone was a gift to the Garden from the San Diego-Yokohama Sister City Society.











Tsukubai with Shi-Shi-Odoshi:


Traditionally, the sound the Shi-Shi-Odoshi makes against the rock basin keeps evil spirits away. Here the Shi-Shi-Odoshi is used for the sound it makes in the silence of the Garden. The tsukubai (rock basin) catches the water as it spills from the shi-shi-odoshi.







The water in the tsukubai is used for ceremonial cleansing of the hands before entering a temple.  From the Tsukubai you can see the "ocean" of the Zen garden and the "river" that comes from the waterfalls of the Koi pond.






Located between the Exhibit House and the Fujidana, this type of lantern is usually found at boat docks.







The Fujidana (wisteria arbor) is betwen the Exhibit House and the Koi Pond.  It is planted with Japanese wisteria: wisteria floribunda, "Texas purple" variety.  Springtime brings beautiful wisteria blossoms that will cover the bamboo framework as it matures. 


Koi Pond:

The Koi Pond is a part of a typical San-Sui (mountain and water) style garden.  The waterfall reflects the mountain, river, and oceanscapes of the San Diego area.  The koi are called "nishikigoi" in Japanese.  Koi represent longevity and virility in Japan.  The island in the pond, in the shape of a turtle, symbolizes the logevity of the Garden and a wish for the people of San Diego.


Light of Friendship:

The bronze lantern, called "yukidoro", has the typical broad roof of the snow lantern.  It was a gift from the Boy Scouts and citizens of Yokohama as a symbol of continued friendship between the two cities.  The chrome sphere inside the lantern contains the names of the people who helped send the gift to San Diego.






Bonsai (pronounced "bone-sigh") means "tray planting" and is the art of living sculpture.  The purpose of bonsai is to produce a miniature plant in perfect proportion and in harmony with its container.