Touring the garden grounds is only half the fun. Inside the Japanese Friendship Garden are many different attractions that serve to captivate and education visitors of all ages. These exhibits bring Japanese culture to the forefront of the JFG experience.
There are also some rotating exhibits at the Japanese Friendship Garden which vary based on the season. The official website has more information about the current featured exhibits.
The Japanese Friendship Garden houses many different artifacts from Japanese history in its museum. Their collection is full of woodblock print artwork, authentic Japanese antique furniture, intricate doll houses, and beautifully designed kimonos.
Examining the artifacts in the collection provides insight into Japanese culture and life. Each artifact represents a different part of art and creative expression central to traditional customs.
Don't miss Festivals & Activities
The Japanese Friendship Garden hosts many local educational programs, activities, festivals, and horticultural classes that focus on the relationship between nature and Japanese culture.
The Japanese art of bonsai actually started as a Chinese invention, but it has since exploded in Japanese culture. The art involves guiding the growth of small, ornamental shrubs and trees, as well as carefully tending to them as they mature.
Many people believe bonsai to be naturally small trees. However, bonsai trees are actually kept small through pruning and by using small pots, not by their genetics. Therefore, the art of maintaining bonsai is central to growing them.
The bonsai collection in the Japanese Friendship Garden contains dozens of bonsai trees. Many of them are over a hundred years old, as bonsai trees have a long lifespan and it’s not uncommon for them to be passed down through generations in a family. While bonsai is most popular in Japan, the bonsai collection in the JFG reflects the growing bonsai community in California.
The bronze kannon bosatsu statue is an art piece of a Buddhist bodhisattva. It was originally created during the Tokugawa period, which lasted from the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, by the renowned Japanese ironsmith Takumi Obata. In the 1900s, the statue was brought to America and displayed in the Middlegate Japanese Garden in Mississippi.
After damage in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina, the statue was purchased and donated to the Japanese Friendship Garden in 2017. At the time, it had significant structural damage and physical wear and tear. Since then, the state has been restored to its former glory.
The kannon statue is on display in the Japanese Friendship Garden’s lower garden, set next to a babbling stream and gorgeous flowers to make a peaceful corner of the garden.
The koi in the garden are renowned for their beauty, and for good reason. All of the koi are show quality, and they have won various awards and received widespread recognition. They were all born in Japan and carefully selected by the Koi Club of San Diego.
The JFG Koi Ponds are filled with 20 different species of koi fish, including white and orange Kohaku or “Fire Engine” koi, the black and orange spotted Kin Hi Utsuri koi, and the bright yellow Yamabuki Ogon. The variety of colors and scale patterns make the koi ponds an amazing sight.
The Inamori Pavilion is located in the lower garden section of the garden. It is an indoor space primarily used for ceremonies and receptions. It often houses rotating exhibits and events held by JFG.
The outdoor deck of the pavilion provides a beautiful view fully immersed in nature. It is a popular photography spot for many guests.
Cherry Blossom Grove
Cherry blossoms are very special trees in Japanese culture. The trees bloom for only about two weeks before the petals begin to fall. Because of this, they are often used to represent the brief nature of life.
Every spring, the Japanese Friendship Garden invited guests to come see the cherry blossoms while they bloom. This week-long festival ties back to the Japanese custom of hanami, which translates literally to “watching blossoms.” It is a tradition that has been practiced in Japan for thousands of years, which makes it all the more special to enjoy right in San Diego.
With over 200 cherry blossom trees, springtime is really a sight to see in the garden.