From the website: The Japanese Friendship Garden, named Ro Ho En, is a joint project of the City of Phoenix and our Sister City Himeji, Japan. Himeji Mayor, Matsuji Totani proposed the garden in 1987 to cement the bonds of friendship between Japan and the United States and particularly between the peoples of Himeji and Phoenix. The Himeji Gardening and Construction Contractors Association was formed for the specific purpose of designing and constructing the Garden. In the ensuing years, the group has made dozens of visits to select the site, investigate soil and climactic conditions, determine suitable plantings, select rock, and oversee construction details.
The teahouse and surrounding tea garden were completed in November 1996, the 20th anniversary of our Sister City relationsihp. The project features a stroll garden, tea garden, a stone garden, and a courtyard garden. All of the decorative features that you see in the garden and the hundreds of thousands of hours required to design and guide its construction are gifts from the City of Himeji and its citizens.
Shachi Monument: Himeji’s greatest treasure is the White Heron Castle Shira Sagi Jo. This castle is Japan’s largest, most beautiful, and best preserved. The Shachi is a mythical fish with the face of a tiger. Images of these ferocious fish are traditionally placed on the roofs of important buildings as a charm against fire. This one is identical to those that grace the roof of the Himeji Castle. The Shachi has become the symbol for our garden.
Tea Garden: A Japanese tea garden (cha-niwa or roji) is a place for quiet reflection on the beauty of nature and the art of living in harmony with one another and with all things. Amid a wooded setting, a pathway with carefully placed stepping stones and lanterns leads through the rustic garden to the tea house. The gardens are designed to present a peaceful, natural space that serves as an interval both in space and time. It is a place to detach oneself from the hectic everyday world before entering the tea house and the tranquil world of tea ceremony
Musoan Tea House: The Japanese Friendship Garden was greatly honored to have the tea house named by Hounsai Sen Genshitsu, fifteenth generation grand tea master of the Urasenke School od Chado, a direct descendant of Sen Rikyu, who is regarded as the greatest tea master. The name Musoan means Tea House of Vision, or “Dream for the Future”. Our tea house is wonderfully intimate space that shows a Japanese love for the use of natural materials in its construction. The warm color tones and changing textures of the wood and tatami floor mats make this space a delightful sensory experience.
Waterfall: The waterfall is the highlight of the entire garden. It is designed to evoke a feeling of a waterfall that would occur naturally in the mountains. The waterall is surrounded by hand-placed boulders brought from Congress, Arizona. The largest boulder in the garden, weighing 25 tons, is placed at the waterfall. Water cascades from a height of 14 feet, dividing into two falls that will be illuminated at night. Try looking at the waterfall from many vantage points, as each can produce a different feeling of tranquility.
Koi: Koi fish are greatly admired in Japanese culture for their bravery in fighting their way upstream and are prized for their bright colors and beautiful shapes. Koi have been carefully bred for hundreds of years to heighten these attributes. Today, a highly prized fish may be worth thousands of dollars. The 5/8 acre koi pond at the Japanese Friendship Garden is a stylized representation of the kanji character 心 (kokoro), the heart.