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The Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, known as Ro Ho En in Japanese, is an authentic 3.5-acre stroll garden with a tea house and Koi pond. It is a project of the City of Phoenix and our Sister City Himeji, Japan.

Streams, walking paths, a 12-foot waterfall, and beautiful plants abound. The soothing ambiance helps soothe the soul and relax the mind. Read on to know more.

Authentic Japanese Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix (RoHo En) is a tranquil 3.5-acre stroll garden, tea house, and Koi pond created in collaboration with Sister City Himeji, Japan. Featuring flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall, and 300+ colorful koi fish, the Garden’s landscape is based on the concept of “borrowed scenery,” mimicking natural surroundings.

The grounds contain a lot of natural beauty, but there are no straight paths, as the gardens are designed to inspire visitors to take a wandering path. This way, visitors discover something new around every corner.

The garden also hosts cultural experiences like language classes, guided tours, and tea ceremonies. While these are not required, attending them enhances the experience of the park.


The 3.5-acre garden includes streams, footbridges, a 12-foot waterfall, and a koi pond. It also features a tea house and a courtyard garden.

The entire garden is designed in the Miegakure style. This means that no part of the landscape is visible from any one point, and you are encouraged to explore and discover intentionally hidden views around every corner.

The sculpted pine trees that grace many Japanese gardens don’t survive our Phoenix heat and dry conditions (and, at the other extreme, our New Hampshire winter cold), so JFG uses Aleppo pines instead. This allows the garden to maintain its classic aesthetic. Plant material is sourced from Arizona and the Southwest wherever possible, but worldwide when necessary. Browse around this site to check more places to visit.

Walking Paths

The 3.5-acre garden is connected by winding walking paths that meander through tranquil pools, waterfalls, and Koi ponds. This authentic Japanese stroll garden is also home to a tea garden and tea house and is the result of the City of Phoenix’s sister city's relationship with Himeji, Japan.

Herringbone brick walkways add a classic look and are durable. To reduce the surface area walked on by guests, consider using low-growing plants for path edges such as lavender, Mexican feather grass, creeping thyme, and sage.


Streams and waterfalls are the backbone of a Japanese garden. They connect each section of the garden together in a way that’s both natural and deliberate. The original designers shaped and lined the streams with hand-picked rocks from quarries near Congress to create a lush space that evokes images of mountain forests, stone beaches, and grasslands.

The 3.5-acre garden is a peaceful sanctuary for meditation and relaxation. Its name, Rohoen (Ro means heron; Ho is Himeji Castle’s symbol of the mythical phoenix bird; and En means garden) reflects its sister-city roots with Phoenix and Himeji. The garden also includes a koi pond, pavilion, decorative bridges, and a 12-foot waterfall.

Koi Pond

The koi pond is a stunning sight that beckons visitors to take a breather from the busy world and admire the fish. Koi are sensitive to water temperature and demand clean, clear, oxygen-rich water.

They also thrive in large, well-structured ponds, where they are protected from predators. Fully grown koi need a minimum of 3 feet of water per fish, and ponds should be stocked in phases to ensure optimum health.

The garden is a living museum, and it was built as a sister city joint project between Phoenix and Himeji, Japan. Over 60 trips by landscape architects from Himeji have been made since the gardens began construction in 1987.

Tea House

In the midst of Phoenix's busy downtown scene lies an unexpected oasis. The 3.5-acre Japanese Friendship Garden, called Rohoen, is an opulent unexpected space where you can tune out your day’s worries by listening quietly to a babbling brook and experience the beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony.

The garden is designed in the traditional miniature style. This means that the entire garden is never fully visible at once, but you are led to discover intentionally hidden sights and sounds as you wander its curved paths.

The Musoan tea house is home to a local Tankokai tea group which hosts public tea ceremonies on a monthly basis in the machiai. Click here for the next blog post.


Driving directions from Pressure Power Pros to The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

Driving directions from The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix to Phoenix Art Museum


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