Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego (14 photos)

Last Saturday I went to visit the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park, with my photo club, the Sierra Club San Diego Photo Section. It’s one of my favorite locations in Balboa Park and I hadn’t been there in years – the last time I went was in 2012, before the garden was expanded considerably to include “lower outdoor exhibit” garden in the canyon.

Now the photos from our photo club activities are often a little bit outside of the “core” of my landscape and nature photography, and I found that in this case, they’re better served here on my personal blog. It’s never easy to decide but I know that I want to streamline the photo content on my main site, so here they are. 🙂

Unfortunately, the marine layer that had been a reliable companion for the first half of July didn’t really cooperate anymore in the second part of the month – it was a bright and sunny day, and the garden only opens at 10am, so the light was pretty harsh.

The first few are from the old, upper part of the garden – which is still very charming:

We then proceeded down into the canyon and the new part of the garden – and it is absolutely astonishing how it has been designed. Two separate creeks are seamed by large granite boulders, hop down over little waterfalls, feed two big Koi ponds, all in a setting with beautiful landscaping and shady spots to sit and rest.

One special feature of the new garden part is the bronze statue of Kannon Bosatsu, the goddess of mercy. The statue has quite a bit of history, which is explained in detail on the Japanese Friendship Garden’s website: Bronze Kannon Bosatsu Statue.

And last not least, here are more impressions from the new, lower garden part of the Japanese Friendship Garden. Seeing this feat of landscape engineering and design leaves me torn in many different ways. One – I really like it, and as much as I like native California landscapes, I’d love to have a piece of this in our backyard. 🙂 Second – it’s totally unnatural for Southern California. And along with that, third – the amount of resources that must be required to keep the garden in this shape and in particular, the water running, is probably astronomical… (electricity & water to name the two most obvious ones).

If you’re like me, it’s probably best to tune these thoughts out and enjoy the place when you visit. 🙂

I think I might return here on an overcast day for some photographic meditations on the water features in particular, and with a more varied set of lenses – I had only brought our 50mm/f1.4 prime on this particular occasion (only the “Zen Garden View” was made with my cellphone, because the 50mm wasn’t wide enough;-).

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4 thoughts on “Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego (14 photos)

  1. Nice post, Alex. The Japanese Friendship Garden looks really interesting. Is it accessible by a small electric mobility scooter?

    1. Thanks, Gary. I think it should be accessible, yes – I saw ramps that avoid stairs and detour steeper and narrower trail sections. There IS a bit of going downhill and uphill though. It’s probably best to check on their website, or just give them a call to make sure.

  2. Beautiful photos! I visit San Diego every 2 – 3 years and have thoroughly enjoyed watching the Japanese Garden develop.
    Thank you!

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