We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Pleasant Oasis in Balboa Park”

Japanese Friendship Garden
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Private Tour: Balboa Park in San Diego
Ranked #84 of 452 things to do in San Diego
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: The Japanese Friendship Garden is located within Balboa Park, San Diego. It is an expression of friendship between the city and its sister city, Yokohama. The Garden is also known as San-Kei-En (Three Scene Garden), and it design was based on the original principles of a Japanese garden while incorporating the elements of San Diego’s landscape and climate. The Japanese Friendship Garden blending two different culture and creates a unique experience to visitors. Moreover, the garden presents an atmosphere of elegant simplicity, quiet beauty, and interaction between humans and nature.
Reviewed October 28, 2012

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a calming place to go within Balboa Park. The gardens are very well maintained, and include a koi pond, rock garden, bonsai trees, and a small Japanese style pavilion containing Japanese artwork and has large windows looking onto the rock garden.

It's not a large garden and you could easily walk through it in less than an hour, but you could just as easily spend much more time there simply relaxing and admiring the simplicity and beauty.

There's a small food vendor at the entrance to the garden, and when I stepped in, the smells of the Japanese food immediately took me back to my days in Yokosuka, Japan, when I was stationed there in the Navy.

It's someplace that I will return to, and will continue to bring out-of-town visitors to see.

Thank zed1958
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (237)
Traveler rating
Traveler type
Time of year
  • More languages
All reviews
"koi pond"
in 37 reviews
"rock garden"
in 10 reviews
"balboa park"
in 61 reviews
"cherry blossoms"
in 7 reviews
"japanese culture"
in 4 reviews
"bonsai collection"
in 3 reviews
"tranquil place"
in 3 reviews
"urban oasis"
in 4 reviews
"water features"
in 3 reviews
"full bloom"
in 3 reviews
"organ pavilion"
in 6 reviews
"check their website"
in 3 reviews
"explorer pass"
in 3 reviews
"take your time"
in 5 reviews
"beautiful gardens"
in 3 reviews
"take pictures"
in 3 reviews
in 16 reviews

184 - 188 of 237 reviews

Reviewed September 10, 2012

Lovely setting......easily walkable even for folks with trouble walking. No too huge. Wonderful koi pond and bonsai. Close to Prado restaurant.

Thank Joannadee8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2012

We paid our $4 each knowing the lower garden was not open. However, we did not realize how little there really was to walk through on the upper part. I don't think it was worth the $4 each.

Thank Beth_sage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 7, 2012

We have enjoyed visiting the Japanese Friendship Garden several times. We have emulated the rock garden that is viewed from the Tea House in our yard. It creates such a feeling of peace.

Thank TravelBugs-LewSue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
See more reviews
Reviewed July 29, 2012

I attended a wedding reception at the Japanese Friendship Garden, and was a little surprised at the guards walking around with handguns. There wasn't one, but two of them. They were very unfriendly, and acted as if they wanted to have a problem with someone. The wedding party had booked entertainment until 12:30AM, and at 12 midnight the staff started arguing with the bride. Granted perhaps the venue had agreed to midnight being the close, but it was as if "ok times up get the hell out of here". The rude treatment continued until the guest vacated the premise. The manager stood with his arms crossed as he and the guards all complained in front of everyone. As far as the garden goes, we had walked around the building and only saw a few Bonzai trees, not much of a garden. If you are thinking of having a wedding here, shop around some more. This place doesn't have it's own restaurant, and truthfully, you don't want to do catered food at a wedding. Get a place with a restaurant that has good food. The logistics will go much better. For a friendship garden, this place wasn't very friendly.

Thank wwoodall
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Japanese Friendship Garden also viewed


Been to Japanese Friendship Garden? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing