Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego: Hours, Address, Japanese Friendship Garden Reviews: 4/5

Japanese Friendship Garden
4
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Visit www.niwa.org/notices for the latest COVID-19 related updates. --- The Japanese Friendship Garden (JFG) is located within Balboa Park, San Diego. It is an expression of friendship between the city and its sister city, Yokohama. JFG is also known as San-Kei-En (Three Scene Garden) with its design based on the original principles of a Japanese garden while incorporating the elements of San Diego’s landscape and climate. With this in mind, JFG blends two different cultures and creates a unique experience that presents an atmosphere of elegant simplicity, quiet beauty, and interaction between humans and nature.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.0
340 reviews
Excellent
120
Very good
125
Average
58
Poor
20
Terrible
17

Ellen28
New York City, NY841 contributions
Lovely short stroll
Jun 2021 • Solo
Nice stop in Balboa Park. Ticket was 12$ for a pleasant stroll through the gardens. It’s pretty hilly so keep that in mind… Wear comfy shoes for the ride back up. Overall, a good on-the-quicker-side stop. I was in and out within an hour although I’m sure you could spend more time.
Written 14 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

regis k
Arcadia, CA1,461 contributions
Stunning beauty
Apr 2021 • Couples
Such a stunning beauty in Balboa Park. It’s an oasis amidst the busy urban San Diego where you can really enjoy serenity and renew yourself. Although small compared to the Japanese Gardens in the LA area, this garden encompasses all the essentials of the Japanese culture. When you enter the garden, you would be immediately transported to a Japanese garden setting with a beautiful cheery blossom at the entrance. Step over the entrance door, a koi pond and a pergola with full of blooming wisteria welcomes you. You would be overwhelmed by a sense of calm. The rest of the garden is just as amazing. The bridge and the steams in the lower part of the park create another scenery of Japan where you can enjoy the varieties of flowers and bonsais in the Japanese garden. With these awesome settings, this garden a perfect place for picture taking. I saw many wedding photography taking place there. There is also a Japanese cafe at the entrance. For those of you wanting to sample of the Japanese food, here is a good place to have a taste of Japanese food. So if you are visiting San Diego and plan to go to Balboa Park or the Zoo, definitely stop buy the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Written 19 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

chrace082810
San Diego, CA186 contributions
A change of scenery
Apr 2021 • Family
Lived in San Diego for 25+ years but this is the first time I actually visited this place!

Though some people were obviously not observing social distancing, everybody was wearing a mask. I underestimated the walk around this garden. Bear in mind that if you choose to go down the lower garden, you will UP the same way. It is an uphill walk going back to the entrance.

I love the koi pond, the flowers and the overall feel of the garden.
Written 11 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

N Mo
7 contributions
Friends from Japan wouldn't be impressed
Oct 2020
Efficiency is the buzzword in Japan. I know many friends who are efficient. But not this garden in efficiency as everything seems disorganized.
Written 19 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Mohammad Qutishat
Amman, Jordan2,211 contributions
More than it looks like
Dec 2019
At first glance, I would have said this is too expensive for a garden and the only reason I went in was that it was a part of my SD Go Card, now I can honestly say that the Japanese friendship garden has a lot to offer than you would expect from a garden.
To get the full experience make sure to ask for the audio guide, with the audio guide you will learn about Japanese architecture and history.
I especially love the Bonsai collection and the Koi pond and I love them even more after learning their history which is so amazing you wouldn’t believe how much patience is involved…
Written 10 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Bethany S
Denver, CO310 contributions
Nice but small
Oct 2020
The gardens were beautiful but were rather small, especially for the $12 entry fee. Pathswere clearly marked and we enjoyed our visit
Written 6 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

GlobalGypsy_13
San Diego, CA2,683 contributions
It's Open & Official
Jun 2020
The Japanese Friendship Garden (JFG) has safely reopened to the public in June 2020. And it has received well-deserved recognition with museum status by the Association of Museums. Except for 1 section the paths are all now one-way and masks are required. For a bit of calm in this continuing Covid-19 storm, head over to the JFG in Balboa Park.
Written 15 July 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

diane B
Quebec, Canada477 contributions
Nice but not a must see
Jan 2020 • Friends
This garden was classified as a museum. There were walking parts through a garden where you can relax and take photos. One section was a museum but there were small labels that were too small to read. There were spiderwebs and spiders in the corners of the displays that looked unappealing. This is a paid museum and it should be maintained for the public to enjoy. There was a boutique that was selling snacks and Japanese souvenirs. It’s always fun to taste something different. You can complete the tour in 30 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend this place unless if you’re running out of places to go to, but there’s nothing spectacular to see.
Written 4 July 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Don'tWaitForRetirement
California4,196 contributions
Highly Recommend a Docent Tour and Audio Tour to Make It Come Alive!
Feb 2020
THE GARDEN EXPANDED TO 12 ACRES IN 2015
I hadn't visited the JFG in probably 10 years and was surprised to see how it had expanded by about 9 ares, (In 2015) so that in addition to the Exhibit Hall, dry stone garden and koi pond, it now includes a large gate to a lower garden featuring bridges, statues, waterfalls, pathways, numerous cherry trees, a couple of pavilion buildings, waterways, stone lanterns, expanded restrooms and a future site of a tea house.

JOIN A DOCENT TOUR AND USE THE AUDIO TOUR FOR FULL APPRECIATION
We visited during February, San Diego's 'Museum Month' where we received half-off each entrance fee for showing a pass. (Found at our local library). We were lucky enough to arrive just as a docent tour was starting, so we joined in and we were so glad we did. The docent was full of very interesting information about different features, the history of the garden, giving us an appreciation for every pathway, plant, building and statue. He even taught us not to say 'Bon-Zi' but 'Bone-sigh'. I saw other people enter the garden and walk past everything we'd learned about and thought they are not going to get the same experience that we did following the docent tour! Still, the Japanese Friendship Garden is still a lovely tranquil place to visit and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, wander, relax and recharge.

After the docent tour, we referred to the audio mobile tour on our phones as we further explored the garden. (Free to download, see the admission brochure for details).

CHERRY BLOSSOMS
Their Cherry Blossom Festival is typically in March, although a few blossoms were out in mid-February when we were there.

FOOD AND DRINKS
Food and refreshments can be purchased immediately outside the entrance gate at the Tea Pavilion Restaurant, but not brought inside the garden.

COST
Entrance Fee (Spring 2020): $12 for adults, students, seniors and active military with ID $10, under 6 free. San Diego residents and active duty military free every 3rd Tuesday of each month.

The JFG is one of the absolute highlights of visiting Balboa Park.

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Written 11 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Cac1234
Germantown, NY1,791 contributions
Beautiful Blooms
Mar 2020
The Japanese Friendship Garden is absolutely beautiful when trees and bushes are in bloom. Be sure to go on a sunny day because it is lovely to see the reflection of flowers and trees in the water and appreciate the bright blue sky in the background. Explore every part of the garden as there are surprises around every curve.
Written 9 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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