Our Mission & Vision
The Japanese Friendship Garden, named RoHoEn 鷺鳳園 in Japanese, 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 relationship. 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.
The mission of the Japanese Friendship Garden, Inc. is to maintain a beautiful, serene Japanese garden in the heart of Phoenix and provide educational and artistic programs and events that continue to deepen our relationships and celebrate the rich history and culture of Japan.
To provide a place of beauty and tranquility as an escape from the everyday pressures of life, for meditation and relaxation and to enrich and restore the body, mind and spirit.
To encourage the citizens of Phoenix, Himeji, and people from around the world to enjoy the experience of an authentic Japanese stroll garden.
To promote the education, understanding, and appreciation of the Japanese culture and its rich history and traditions.
To foster a lasting friendship between the citizens and governments of the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji.
To facilitate a positive public/private partnership with the cities of Phoenix and Himeji for the promotion, operation, and maintenance of the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.
To recognize the generous contributions of time, money, and gifts from the citizens and governments of Phoenix and Himeji, especially the architects and contractors of Himeji.
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, RoHoEn is an authentic 3.5 acre Japanese Stroll Garden with a tea garden and a tea house. This tranquil and beautiful setting features more than 1,500 tons of hand-picked rock, stone foot bridges, lanterns and more than 50 varieties of plants. As you stroll the path, you will enjoy flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall, and a Koi pond with over 300 colorful Koi fish.
Our Name - RoHoEn 鷺鳳園
The devoted and friendly relationship between the Sister Cities of Phoenix and Himeji, Japan is reflected in the name chosen by its creators.
鷺 RO Japanese word for Heron
- the symbol of Himeji city.
鳳 HO Japanese word for Phoenix
- the symbol of Phoenix city.
園 EN Japanese word for Garden.
Our Sister City - Himeji
Himeji became a Phoenix Sister City in November 1976 and is one of nine Sister Cities around the globe. Phoenix and Himeji participate in business, governmental, cultural and educational exchanges that promote international goodwill and understanding. The Garden is the shared cultural vision of the cities of Phoenix and Himeji.
Our Design - Hide & Reveal
RoHoEn's stroll garden was designed by Mr. Nozomu Okita in the traditional miegakure (見隠) style. Miegakure or hide-and-reveal design, is prevalent in Japanese stroll gardens where the entirety of the garden is never visible at once. Instead the viewer is led to uncover intentionally hidden views of the landscape while strolling along its curved paths.
Our Board- A Non-profit Organization
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is an integral part of the organization - performing maintenance, funding, and program development of the Garden.
See more here: Board of Directors.
Our Volunteers- Our Community
The Garden operates in a large part through the support of our community. From maintaining all 3 acres of the land to greeting and engaging with guests during our operating hours, volunteers play many rewarding and important roles at RoHoEn. Donors and members often enjoy volunteering as well.
Our Volunteer Mission Statement
& Code of Conduct
Volunteer Mission Statement:
Our Volunteers support JFG's mission by protecting the garden elements along our paths and promoting an authentic and informed understanding of Japanese gardens and culture. Volunteers do this through caring for the Garden physically, administratively and relationally by helping our guests explore the Garden, maintaining its pristine shapes and textures, welcoming, engaging and responding to our guest's curiosity and helping ensure that they leave having had an authentic and tranquil experience.
Volunteer Code of Conduct
JFG volunteers make decisions that affect our reputation every shift they spend in the Garden. We are grateful and honored that our volunteers so wonderfully improve and enhance that reputation. Because the individual actions of our volunteers at the Garden shape how our guests view Japan, Japanese culture, our sister city, and JFG, it is so important that we each take responsibility for the mission of the Japanese Friendship Garden and act with Integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and generally professional behavior while in service at JFG.
"JFG volunteers make decisions that affect our reputation every shift they spend in the Garden. We are grateful and honored that our volunteers so wonderfully improve and enhance that reputation."
Special Event Volunteers
Tea Tour Docents
As a non-profit, the Japanese Friendship Garden honored to be fueled and supported by our dedicated volunteer team. Being an Ambassador is just one of the ways you can support the Garden while joining a community of people with similar interests.
This is a list of volunteer roles available at the Garden below. Many volunteers enjoy holding a few different roles with us. Contact the volunteer coordinator if you are interested in trying others out yourself!
Special Event Volunteers
Tea Tour Docents
Our Volunteer Benefits
JFG provides many benefits for our volunteers. Aside from the obvious benefits you will receive from simply spending time in the serene environment of the Garden, below are other ways JFG is dedicated to giving back to our greatly appreciated volunteer community.
Our Volunteer Enrichment Program
There is a level system in traditional Japanese culture based on the Three Friends of Winter", the plum, bamboo and pine. In this three-tier ranking system the pine (matsu, 松) is the highest, followed by bamboo (take, 竹) and plum (ume, 梅). A pine tree's roots secure it to the sides of ragged rock and its needles remain vibrantly green even in the coldest of winters, bamboo also maintains its color through winter and grows incredibly tall, flexing without breaking, plums endure long winters, pushing out the very first symbol of spring as they bloom even in the snow. These three “Friends of Winter” essentially provide an allegory for weathering hard times through their various attributes. In Japanese this motif is called the Shōchikubai (松竹梅) and is used in everything from art, song, celebratory gifts, New Years decorations and Ikebana arrangements.
Using this beloved trio here at RoHoEn, there are three levels iin our Enrichment program.
Ume (Plum) - Level 1
Take (Bamboo) - Level 2
Matsu (Pine) - Level 3
How To Advance In Levels
Volunteers move up in level when they have taken enrichment courses and spent a certain number of hours volunteering with us.
Our Enrichment system is a combination of in-person workshops and online content that can further educate you on various subjects related to your volunteer role. You can receive in-depth training on Japanese culture, garden designs and techniques, history and myths as well as many intriguing traditional Japanese arts.
Our Volunteer Schedule & Hours
VicNet is our volunteer scheduling and sign up portal.
Volunteers must use their email address to sign in. You will be prompted to create a password unique to you.
In the portal, your schedule will be visible under the "My Schedule" tab.
You can also view open shifts under the "My Schedule" tab. Please click on an orange "Help Wanted" icon on the schedule to see our open shifts.
Sign up for that shift by clicking the "Schedule Me" button.
VicTouch is our volunteer kiosk at the Garden.
You will use our volunteer iPad to log your hours by signing in and out at the beginning and end of each shift.
Please use your email and the pin that was assigned to you to sign in when you start your shift and to sign out at the end of your shift.
You can also sign up for open shifts and view you schedule from the kiosk before or after your shift.
Our Volunteer Policies & Procedures
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix strives to operate in an ethical manner, committed to values such as honesty, integrity, and trust. Our volunteer policies and code of conduct ensure that JFG's values are shared and upheld by all members of our organization. This document is designed to acquaint volunteers with information about the policies and procedures involved with volunteering at JFG. It is not all-inclusive but rather, is intended to provide volunteers with a summary of JFG’s guidelines.
Please click below to read our volunteer policies, procedures and code of conduct.
Check the Acknowledgement box after reading and submit. If there is anything you do not understand or if you require further clarification, please contact your volunteer supervisor, we would love help.
An Ambassador's Role
The primary role of our Garden Ambassadors is to protect and promote the Garden during normal admission hours. Helping guests appreciate the Garden from within the paths and not wondering off into the fragile plant life, while answering any simple RoHoEn questions they may have is the primary way that Ambassador's support us. If you are looking for a way to spend time in the beauty of our Garden as well as become an essential part of our volunteer community, Ambassador volunteering is for you!
"The primary role of our Garden Ambassadors is to protect and promote the Garden..."
Greet visitors cordially and provide assistance
Explain garden rules of etiquette and behavior
Keep café/seating area clean (wipe tables)*
Monitor the Garden path for safety issues/ Alert Staff of any issues
Check all public areas including restrooms
Remind visitors of 4:00 pm closing time and help clear Garden at closing
Thank all visitors for coming to the Japanese Friendship Garden
Enforce Gardens Photo Policy
Point out points of interest in the Garden (Blooming Plants, Seasonal Attractions, Japanese Design etc.)
Our Acronym - MIGHTY
An easy way to remember what to do as an Ambassador at the Japanese Friendship Garden is to think of this acronym:
M - Move Around and Monitor
Ambassadors are primarily protectors of the Garden. They enjoy walking the stroll path and doing two important duties:
They move around to greet and engage each guest and they also use their time to carefully monitor guest behavior to ensure the gardens policy's are enforced.
Things to monitor and offer corrections on are:
Walking off the path -Our plants are fragile and easily destroyed by foot traffic off the path. Some guests try to climb into our streams or waterfalls as well as take pictures sitting or standing on our rocks. But this can damage the Garden greatly. Any area off the cement path is off limits unless it is a special event or workshop where the grassy, flat area are being used.
Bringing in outside food and drink
Unauthorized photo shoots
Unpaid admission (every guest should have a bright admission sticker on a visible part of their body)
I - Inform Guests of Volunteer Opportunities, Memberships, and Special Events
When engaging with guests let them know of opportunities to be more involved with the garden!
Volunteer Opportunities: anyone who wants to be of service will find a home at Ro Ho En. Ambassadors, Docents, Special Event Assistants, Gardeners, Office Assistants, Group Volunteers, etc.
Memberships: Student, Family, and Individual memberships available. We are a part of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) and part of the reciprocal membership program I. E. our membership gets members into the Desert Botanical Garden!
Special Events: Promote the next event or workshop: Ikebana Exhibit, Wine and Jazz, Otsukimi, Haru, etc.
H - Help Staff During Peak Periods
Ambassadors can also help the Gift Shop Staff during very busy periods. Some ways you may be requested to help are:
Keep the cafe area clean
Pick up any litter
Give the gift shop worker a restroom break
Assist Fumiko with any special projects
G - Greet and Engage Each Guest
Take a moment to greet each guest!
Some examples you can use:
"Welcome to the Garden" - especially if you are on your way through or the guests seem to want more privacy, this is a great way to still acknowledge and welcome the guests with out disturbing their contemplative or romantic stroll.
"Thank you for coming to RoHoEn" - a great greeting for when you are approaching someone who may not be following Garden policy. Starting with appreciation of their visit and then transitioning into asking them to come back onto the path or not sit on the rocks makes the interaction smooth and positive.
Simply saying "Hi, how are you? Is this your first time in the Garden?" or offering a comment about the weather/season, mentioning something new or special in the garden (whats flowering, what is your favorite spot in the garden, etc.) are wonderful as well. Be yourself and be open for conversation and you will do great!
T - Teach Guests About Garden Etiquette
Although it looks like a park, JFG is a living spatial art form.
It's important to stay on the paths because walking on the plants is detrimental to their integrity.
Everything in the Garden is carefully manicured based on traditional Japanese Gardening aesthetics and the hide and reveal nature of our garden. So please help guests maintain our Japanese art and cultural space.
Y - You Make The Difference
You are the welcoming face of RoHoEn and the main guest experience, so enjoying your time while you are in the Garden and letting your passion for the Garden's design, textures, culture and tranquility show through in your own way are very important!
One way to make the Garden your own is to find your three favorite spots in the Garden to talk about with guests. Take some time as you first wonder the paths to locate which sections resonate with you most and find information about that area via our website, staff or other volunteers. We are always happy to talk about the Garden with you and answer any questions you may have!
Almost finished! Take this quick quiz to let us know you have completed your online training and are ready to take your next steps as an Ambassador! After you finish this quiz our volunteer coordinator will be in touch with you to help you sign up for your first shift where you will take a tour through the Garden with your coordinator and have a chance to speak with other volunteers.
Congratulations on completing your quiz and learning all about your new role as a Garden Ambassador at RoHoEn.
Scheduling your first ambassador shift-
The Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with you to schedule your first shift where they will show you through the Garden and help you feel comfortable, answering any questions you may have and showing you the ropes.
The Garden has Ambassador shifts everyday except Monday. Shifts are in 2 hour blocks, however if you would like to do another time arrangement, please contact the volunteer coordinator and we will be happy accommodate however we can.
Once you have completed your first shift, you are ready to self-schedule. and Use the VicNet Volunteer Portal to schedule yourself for any open shifts that you are interested in.
Coming to the Garden as an Ambassador-
On the day of your shift please come to the gift shop at the front entrance of the Garden.
Sign in at our volunteer kiosk iPad. You will need your email and PIN number.
During covid19 guidelines, you will have your temperature taken and be given a mask before starting.
Put on a green volunteer Hapi (thin Japanese over shirt with our name on it) to identify yourself with the Garden. If it is summer, you will be given a name tag and a waist apron to wear instead. On your first few times ambassadors usually bring one of your Garden pamphlets with them. This pamphlet has a quick summary of each important read in the Garden which is numbered on a map for reference. Very useful!
Walk through the Garden, monitoring the path ways using the "MIGHTY" acronym from your training while promoting the Garden's mission through answering questions and spreading information on our events and workshops. If you don't know the answer to a question, don't fear, just direct our guests to the Gift Shop staff who are very knowledgeable on all things related to RoHoEn. :)
When your shift is finished, check out at the Gift shop by signing out of the volunteer kiosk iPad and returning your Hapi/waist apron to the Gift shop staff.
Please email us with any questions or problems we can help you solve:
Thank you for completing your online training with the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix - RoHoEn! We warmly welcome you to our community and look forward to promoting, protecting and growing the Garden together with you soon.
Our Online Volunteer Training project was funded, supported, and made possible by a grant from Arizona Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities