A Hidden Gem for Thanksgiving Week: The Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park

by on November 22, 2021 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Colleen O’Connor

Expecting family and friends to arrive this week in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday?

A sure way to guarantee they enjoy their stay, besides the beach, the bay, the dinners, and the weather, is a hidden gem in Balboa Park: The Japanese Friendship Garden.

The garden is tucked away in Balboa Park, under lush vegetation, with meandering paths across bridges, alongside waterfalls that spill into fabulous Koi ponds.

All photos by Colleen O’Connor

This park also hosts art exhibitions, Bonsai pavilions and currently, a textile exhibit of fine fabrics, as well as magnificent matrimonial Kimonos.

The Japanese Friendship Garden originated as an “expression of the ties between the people of San Diego and its sister city Yokohama and was founded by San Diego Mayor, Charles Dail, in March of 1970.

It has been blossoming ever since into a joy to experience.

As the Garden’s brochure so eloquently states, it is “a hidden work of art in the cultural center of Balboa Park awaiting your discovery.”  To experience it is “to experience inner peace and serenity.”

Something hard to come by in the holiday crush.

Pui Lan Ng ‘s Ikebana flower arrangement

Other offerings of the Japanese Friendship Garden include classes in yoga, ikebana, sound meditation, Reiki Karate, or Shoko & Haiku.

Enjoy and be thankful for such beauty in the middle of our city.








{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Louisa Golden November 22, 2021 at 2:49 pm

So how much does it cost to hike that rather large section of the public park nowadays? And I know you cannot go whenever you please as with the rest of Balboa Park. When is the “Friendship” garden open to the paying public? Are there any days or times when the public can access serenity for free?


Peter from South O November 22, 2021 at 3:32 pm

The Friendship Garden is free to residents on the third Tuesday of every month.


Frank Gormlie November 22, 2021 at 6:59 pm

Thanks for that.


Frank Gormlie November 22, 2021 at 3:18 pm

Colleen says, “Cost is $10 for seniors, military & students…$12 general admission….and kids under 6 are free.”


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