Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, San Diego

It's easy to overlook these gardens.  They fill a canyon and the entrance is tucked between the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and the Prado building.  The Japanese Friendship Garden is beautiful and also serves as an art venue, cultural center and cafe.

At the street level, there is the Tea Pavilion, which serves a wide range of teas from black to herbal tisanes and light meals, such as soba noodles.  This place is always busy! Next to the pavilion, is the modest entrance to the Garden.  There is a small gallery, with a ever changing art exhibit.  Then, the descent into the Garden begins.  The paved path is quite steep in sections and takes you through twelve acres of cherry trees, waterfalls, camellias, azaleas, sculpture, koi ponds and Japanese buildings.  At the base of the canyon is a cascading water feature, pond and large pavilion, which hosts cultural events and a small cafe with Japanese snacks.  The Garden seems small, but it takes about an hour to meander around.  The greenery attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

The Garden honors the sister city relationship between San Diego and Yokohama.  Most weekends, there is some kind of special program, such as a martial arts festival or sake tasting.  It is a definite not-to-be-missed for anyone visiting Balboa Park.

There was a great blue heron perched on the roof

Kannon Bodhisattva


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