The gardens have been described by San Jose Parks Foundation Executive Director James Reber as one of the most peaceful, beautiful places in San Jose.” The reason for the friendship part of the Gardens' name is to celebrate the friendship between San Jose and its sister city, Yokohama. It is a symbol of the coming together of cultures and is a way of giving the inhabitants of San Jose a glimpse into Japanese culture.
The Gardens offer a wide variety of educational programs, exhibits, and festivals as well as accredited horticultural classes to enhance and deepen visitor appreciation for Japanese culture. The first phase of the Japanese Friendship Garden was opened in 1991 and the second phase in 1999, designed by renowned landscape architect Takeo Uesugi. The third phase, completed in 2015, added and additional 9 acres and included a 200 cherry tree grove, large azalea and camellia garden, a water feature reminiscent of the San Diego watershed, and the state of the art Inamori Pavilion.Today, the Japanese Friendship Garden is visited annually by close to 100,000 people from all over the United States and around the world. The Parks Foundation has set up a fund at www.sanjoseparks.org, and any donations are always appreciated.