While we had my roommate from college visiting (she is from Japan and now lives in Tokyo), I thought it might be fun to take her to see the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix to see what she thought.
The Garden’s entrance is right on 3rd Ave, which I totally missed the first time! You can Park in the same lot as the playground for the park, but it is a bit of a walk during the hot weather. Unfortunately, 3rd Ave is a one way only street, so I had to drive around the block another time before entering the Garden’s lot.
There is not a ton of parking spaces in the Japanese Friendship Garden’s lot either, and very little on street parking.
The entrance to the Gardens. You need to enter the very small gift shop to buy tickets. The children were free (6 and under are free). You can also buy Koi food to feed the fish. The bags are $1 each, which isn’t bad, but I knew we wouldn’t see the Garden if we got the fish food first. I knew my kids would only want to feed the fish. Someone would inevitably dump their whole bag and want another child’s, and we would end up leaving the Garden unhappy. I am pretty good at predicting how these types of things go! So, we skipped the fish feeding all together!
The Friendship Garden is a different kind of park than the playground type of park. This park is definitely more adult friendly than child friendly. My kids can be great listeners or can be totally wild children. Luckily the day we went to the park they were good listeners. I highly, highly suggest this park for your good four year olds and up for many reasons.
There are also special tours (and you can see other parts of the Garden not ordinarily seen in a usual visit), and Tea Ceremonies as well.
We made our first stop at the bathroom. Every time we go some place, we run towards the bathroom first. The bathroom was in impeccable condition, and even had a changing table!
There was a small water feature right outside the bathroom which I had to try and keep my kids from jumping in. No, children, this is not a splashpad!
Beautiful lake surrounded by greenery.
Water features and water falls at the East end of the park were a great place to be on the hot part of the day. Notice that the small walking bridges have a very LOW barrier to keep kids from tripping into the water.
The main reason that I really think this is for the 4+ crowd (the well behaved 4+ crowd) is because of the bridges. You can see that the lip of the bridges is maybe 3″-4″ and will not catch a flailing toddler falling into the water. I don’t know how deep the water is, but I also didn’t want to find out the wet way.
The Koi fish were particularly funny to watch. They seemed to hover around the bridge where they must get fed a lot. They have very big mouths and we got to see down them, and they also kind of jumped too!
Giggls and Dimples found a nice bench and were just watching one of the waterfalls. They were quiet for a bit! Amazing.
I have to say, the apartments that overlooked the Japanese Friendship Garden had a great view!
There were some beautiful baby ducks that kept coming up to my children. It was amazing they were walking right up. The momma and daddy ducks looked on but didn’t seem to mind the babies coming right up to the kiddos. They gently put their fingers on the back of their bodies (I was a bit worried about imprinting/rejection inssues from the parent ducks), but the babies went rightback to their momma duck and swam around after visiting with the kids. I don’t know much about ornithology, but these birds seemed like they were very urban birds! Pigeons were also landing right on other patron’s arms (probably to get the Koi food).
The Friendship Garden was a great little walk-and I was happy that my children were being well behaved and listening. I think this is definitely a trip that needs to be planned with the right timing and parent to kid ratio! I would say keep the stroller at home as well. If my kids had had friends their age with us, we probably would have had someone in the water (Eek)! It took us about 35 minutes to check out the garden, but if you have a kiddo that would like to read under a tree, it may be a perfect place to go on a spring day.
1125 N 3rd Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85003