Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix

A couple weekends ago Adam and I went to the Japanese Friendship Garden in downtown Phoenix for our January date (from our Year of Dates). Neither of us had ever been before, so it was fun to experience a new place together. 

Opened to the public in 2002, the Japanese Friendship Garden is an authentic 3.5 acre Japanese stroll garden with tea garden and tea house. It’s a little oasis tucked into the chaos of downtown Phoenix and surrounding luxury apartments and skyscrapers. Named Ro Ho En, the garden represents the relationship between the City of Phoenix and its sister city Himeji, Japan. RO is the Japanese word for heron (a bird symbol of Himeji City), HO is the Japanese word for the mythical Phoenix bird, and EN is the Japanese word for garden.

The highlight of the visit for us was the koi pond with over 300 colorful koi fish. The garden sells small baggies of koi fish food for $1. BUY AT LEAST TWO! Picture me screaming that because it’s an absolute must. We only bought one to start and ended up going back to buy more (I saw another couple going back to buy more too). I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but it’s seriously crazy watching the feeding frenzy.

There are a lot of ducks in the pond and they have mastered the art of stealing the fish food. It was almost a game trying to throw food to the fish without the ducks getting it. They are just so much faster and smart enough to watch you throw the food.

For our trip to the garden we used our library’s culture pass program to cover our admission. The Mesa Public Library is part of a culture pass program that allows free admission for 2 people to participating museums twice a month. We also used this program to visit the Heard Museum for our April date last year. It looks like most of the Phoenix-area libraries use the same program. I also found similar programs in other counties/states, so there may be something similar available near you. It ended up working perfectly and it’s such a great cheap date idea!

To complete our Japanese themed date we had sushi at Squid Ink Sushi for lunch. Our sushi was delicious (although pricey) and we had fun trying a few new rolls in addition to our usual dragon and rainbow rolls. It also worked out perfectly with my 19 for 2019 goal to try one new restaurant a month!

Visitor Notes
  • The Japanese Friendship Garden also hosts public tea ceremonies on the third Saturday of each month.
  • Guided tours of the garden are available Wednesday and Thursdays for a small additional fee.
  • The garden is closed to visitors during the summer months. The hours are limited starting in June and the garden is close July to September.

For more information, including hours and admission fees, click here


  1. I have visited Japanese gardens in San Francisco and Portland but have yet to get to this one, it is on my list as it is in my backyard! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. This is such a cool idea! I love you Year if Dates in general, but the simple, inexpensive things usually turn out to be the best ones. Less expectations, so a ton of room to be surprised.
    Hope you enjoy the 10 remaining dates ❤️

  3. This looks like an amazing date spot! So peaceful and a place to make great memories. If we are ever in the area I definitely want to visit!

  4. Absolutely gorgeous. We have a similar area in part of the Chicago Botanic Garden. It is pure ZEN and tranquility.

  5. What a lovely place to visit! I love Japanese gardens. And the fish are so cute, it looks as if they were saying "feed me"


Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.