Celebrating 20 Years of the Japanese Friendship Garden


Tyler Irwin, Reporter

Deep within the urban jungle of downtown Phoenix lies the Japanese Friendship Garden. The garden inhabits three and a half acres of land including a tea garden, tea house, and a lake which the koi fish inhabit. The Friendship garden has an official name which is Ro Ho En—Ro is heron in Japanese, Ho is Japanese for Phoenix bird and En is garden. The garden is a joint project from Phoenix’s sister city Himeji, Japan. As one of ten Sister Cities around the world, the garden is special because of its beauty and exchanges which promote international goodwill and understanding.

In November of 1976, Himeji became a Sister City of Phoenix, and since 1987 landscape architects from Himeji have made over 50 trips to and from the garden to complete its visits. On the garden grounds, it includes a pond where you can observe all different kinds of koi fish ranging in colors and size. The tranquility of the park is calming and is a breath of fresh air if you haven’t had a second to just stop and think. The garden is kept by gardeners to ensure that the garden can be enjoyed by all visitors and any wildlife that stumbles across it. The atmosphere of the garden is matched by its beauty, while the day I attended it the weather conditions were humid but that didn’t dampen the experience I had.

People that both like nature and explore new and fresh activities in Chandler will enjoy this short but memorable day activity. The garden has interesting sights like the statue of the Shachi a mythical ferocious fish that energetically spouts water, sprays waves, and causes rain to fall as a charm to guard against fire and disaster. In addition to the Shachi, the garden has a tea house named “the machiai ” (waiting structure) which was made possible by donations that commemorated the 20th anniversary of the sister cities.

This November the garden will celebrate 20 years with the founders’ dinner on the 13th and a celebration on the 19th. While November is three months away, there are some interesting events happening between now and then. Otsukimi (which means to gaze at the moon) will be happening on October 8th and 9th. From the garden’s website, it explains, “Our exhibit theme this year is: Meigestu Seifu, Meigestu Seifu is a Zen phrase that means ‘a clear moon and a cool breeze brings to mind the serenity of moments of deep peace that clears the mind’.” Meigestu Seifu brings us into this cooling and calming mood.” I will be going to this event to hopefully help clear my mind and help me achieve a more calm mood.