Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.


Take students to a place of peace and experience a “one chance, one encounter” moment — or as the Japanese say, “ichi-go, ichi-e.”

The Japanese Friendship Garden, located in San Diego, California, is designed based on centuries-old Japanese techniques and symbolizes the friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama, Japan.

“The Japanese Friendship Garden seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity and aestheticism,” said Alexis Abille, visitor engagement & education coordinator at the garden.

Docent-led tours include the Upper Garden and the Lower Canyon. Both contain common natural features found in Japanese Gardens that are adapted to San Diego climate and florae.

In the Upper Garden, students see the bonsai collection with 20 permanent ornamental-shaped trees and shrubs, then visit the Japanese-born koi in the koi pond.

Credit: Japanese Friendship Garden

The Lower Canyon features two waterfalls, a cherry blossom grove, a bronze statue and the Inamori Pavilion — perfect for events and group gatherings.

“During a docent-led tour, students will learn about the history of the Japanese Friendship Garden, as well as Japanese gardening principles, designs and techniques,” Abille said. “The garden hopes to inspire awe and students’ sense of wonder: Why are these stones arranged in this position? Why are the trees pruned like this?”

The serene atmosphere is popular with students, many taking photo after photo of the picturesque landscape.

“Our hope is that students are able to just enjoy their experience and take the time to ‘be in the moment’ while they are visiting the garden,” Abille said. “Experience your ‘one chance, one encounter’ moment here.” To receive a full experience at the Japanese Friendship Garden, Abille suggests educators plan to spend at least 90 minutes at the eye-catching attraction.

For more information call 619-232-2721 or go to niwa.org.

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