Visiting a large city like San Jose in California’s Bay Area is exciting and full of fun activities for the entire family. There comes a point, however, where you may feel a need to unwind, listen to the birds, and simply enjoy some repose. Among the endless variety of activities, tourists attractions, and entertaining spots to visit, there are surprising, hidden garden-style havens in the middle of this busy city. Japanese Garden San Jose on the eastside of the city, just a few blocks from the heart of San Jose’s downtown, is one such place.
The Japanese Friendship Garden (as it is officially called) is as welcoming as its name suggests.
Here you have the opportunity to wander down footpaths leading you along calm waterways spilling into rushing, misty waterfalls. Small man made streams skirt perfectly manicured bonsai bushes, water reeds, cherries, and flowing willows. As soon as you walk under the pagoda entrance, you sense a meditative feel even when there is a crowd. A large, shallow pond (one of three) is at the center of the Japanese Friendship Garden, filled with giant Koi, water turtles, a variety of ducks, and other waterfowl, and if you’re lucky, you will spot large Grey Herons on the center island of the pond.
The garden covers six carefully manicured acres with plenty of places to sit and relax. Wooden benches line the walkways. Large boulders serve a dual purpose as both decoration, and as an excellent place to sit while looking over the surrounding landscape. Small and large footbridges lead you over the water, and down ambling paths where each turn offers a new view and a new place to meditate.
The Japanese Friendship Garden was designed after Korakuen in Okayama, San Jose’s sister city. Korakuen was built in 1687 as a playground for the ruling emperor and his guests. “Korakuen is ranked as one of Japan’s three best landscape gardens. It is located just beside Okayama Castle,” according to the Japan Tourist guide. It is easy to see the resemblance in San Jose’s Friendship Garden and Korokuen. The open park-like setting with shaded grassy areas, along with the artistically placed greenery makes the Japanese garden of San Jose true to traditional Japanese design elements.
Along with ponds, waterways, and gardens, San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden has a Tea House where tea ceremonies, literature readings, and other forms of traditional Japanese cultural experiences periodically take place.
If you are visiting San Jose and find the need for a quiet place to sit and enjoy life outside the hustle and bustle of the city, San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden is one place you will want to visit.
Tips when visiting San Jose’s Japanese Friendship Garden
–Go on weekdays before lunch when it is least crowded
–It is OK to bring a sack lunch into the gardens
–Entrance fee at this time is free, however, parking will cost $6
–Open daily from 8 AM to a half hour before sunset
–Take plenty of quarters to buy fish and duck food from a dispenser right after you enter the garden.
–To take advantage of a full day, The Japanese Gardens are located next to another popular park in San Jose- Kelly Park. Your parking fee covers both parks.
–The gardens are available for private functions such as weddings. Call the city of San Jose Parks and Recreation department for details.
–Commercial photography is not permitted without prior approval from the city of San Jose, personal photography is allowed, however.
Personal visit to the San Jose Japanese Friendship Garden 2010