I love Japanese Gardens so when I hear about Balboa Park in San Diego has one I knew I had to stop by there. The Japanese Friendship Garden is named “San-Kei-En” meaning “Three Scene Garden”… Water, Pastoral and Mountain. The San-Kei-En is an expression of the ties between the people of San Diego and Yokohama, Japan and blends the two cultures to create a unique experience. The garden was named in honor of the San-Kei-En Garden in Yokohama .
I walked in the Entrance Plaza to begin my tour and the lady at the gate told me about the Entrance Stone which is inscribed with the kanji symbols of the Garden’s name San Kei En. I then proceeded a self-guided tour and stop by the Tea Pavilion. The architecture Japanese style of the Tea Pavilion has its roots in the 16th century Tea Ceremony which displays such elegance and beauty. As I continue along the path I heard the water sound of Shi-Shi-Odoshi makes as it hits the rock water basin called Tsukubai. The sound that the Shi-Shi-Odoshi makes as it hits the rock was used to keep evil spirits away.
While walking the stone pathway I noticed a stone lantern which is called a Oribe-doro. There is a famous story about the original lantern.
Three wealthy followers of Furuta Oribe (famous tea master) commissioned the carving of three specially designed Toro (lantern). They offered them to a shrine in honor of their tea master. These three followers were Christian and, at that time in Japan, no one was permitted to be a Christian. In this lantern there was supposed to be a carved Buddha, but actually a hidden image of the Cross of Christ was craved in it.
When you come to this garden you have to stop by the Bonsai Display area. Bonsai means “tray planting” and is the art of living sculpture. I was told that the purpose of bonsai is to produce a miniature plant in perfect proportion and in harmony with its container.
The last place I visited in the garden was the Koi Pond. This Koi Pond was a typical San-Sui (mountain and water) style garden. The koi are called “nishikigoi” in Japanese. The Koi represents and virility in Japan. The island in the pond, in the shape of a turtle, symbolizes the longevity of the Garden and a wish for the people of San Diego. So come and stop by the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park