Arizona Finds: Japanese Friendship Garden


By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva” and outreach coordinator Jessica Conn discuss the visitor experience at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

The feeling of “ahhhh” can be hard to come by. But many of us have been lucky enough to be introduced to it by visiting Arizona’s Japanese Friendship Garden. Located near the downtown area, the 3.5-acre Japanese Friendship Garden, named RoHoEn, is a joint project of the City of Phoenix and its Sister City Himeji. It was completed in 1996. The garden is an opulent unexpected space in the heart of the desert. It’s a place to listen quietly to a babbling brook and tune out life’s busy thoughts.

This destination features a unique garden, tea house, tea garden, a stone garden, and a courtyard garden making it a true Arizona Find. There are very few straight paths throughout the plush grounds. When guests stroll through the peaceful oasis, they navigate curved walkways to cross a bridge that spans a pond full of fish. The teahouse gardens are filled with walking stones that require visitors to look down and connect with the earth. It’s all part of a design style known as hide and reveal. Our guide shared with us, “Nothing is straight or crowded and that’s intentional. It’s designed to make you slow down and pay attention to where you’re walking.” Now there’s a novel thought… and definitely a product of the “ahhhh” experience.

This is a place to meditate, reflect and re-center. All you hear is the breeze and the water. The gardens are like living museums. Each blade of grass, every manicured tree, and every cascading waterfall has its own story bringing forward a call to be at peace. Our guide explained that each plant is chosen for its ability to not only survive in the desert but to evoke images of gardens in Japan. Even the boulders used to create the stream were hand-picked from hills near Congress with an idea of where they would be placed in the garden. The garden is meant to invoke images of four specific regions in Japan: mountain forest, stone beach, grassland, and woodland.

  • Construction of the Japanese Friendship Garden
    Construction of the Japanese Friendship Garden

The garden offers a variety of cultural and wellness programs, including tea classes and guided meditation like the Moon Meditation Workshop. If you love tea experiences you’re going to find a completely different tea practice here. No fluff and frills. Just that feeling of “ahhhh” as you watch and participate in a traditional preparation of matcha, powdered green tea. You’ll get a chance to sample several teas and learn about the accompanying traditions, and the tea house. Events sell out fast. I am on year one of a two-year wait for the grand ceremonial tea.

See the garden’s website for an event calendar and more details on the months and times the gardens are open. It’s special, slow down and re-energize.

Getting there: The Japanese Friendship Garden is about a ten-minute walk from the light rail stop at Roosevelt and Central Ave.

Location: 1125 N. Third Avenue, Phoenix

Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays

Cost: $10 general, $8 seniors, $7 students, $7 military, free for children under 6.


Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit

All in Good Taste


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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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