Learn how to protect & promote
RoHoEn as a volunteer!
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.
See more here: Make a donation, Plant donations, or Become a member, to explore the many ways you can join our community in helping the Garden grow!
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.
You will receive a Garden membership once you volunteer with the Garden regularly for 1 year. See our Membership benefits here.
Annual Volunteer Appreciation Event
Join us for our annual volunteer appreciation event where we show you our gratitude for your hours and years as well as special projects.
JFG Volunteer merchandise such as shirts, pins, or stickers, will be given out whenever available.
Gift Shop Discount
Get a 10% discount on gift shop food, beverage and goods during your shift at the Garden. The gift shop staff will verify that you are either signed in for your shift or on the schedule for that day in order to give you the discount.
Receive awards for the highest hours in each role as well as longevity awards for number of years you have volunteered with us.
Volunteer Snack Bar
During events, volunteers will be provided with a volunteer designated rest area and snack bar with fresh fruit, snacks, drinks, etc.
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.
- Plum 梅
Level 1 Volunteer
Just like the plum is the first tree to blossom, being a new volunteer your knowledge and skilsl are just beginning to bud with plenty of space for new opportunities and exploration at the Garden.
- Bamboo 竹
Level 2 Volunteer
Just like bamboo, you have shot up and grown straight and tall into your role, gaining deeper knowledge and perspectives to help yourself and others understand and appreciate the Garden more fully.
- Pine 松
Level 3 Volunteer
Just like a pine, your roots have dug deep and made you a symbol of proven longevity and steadfastness in the pursuit of training and investment here at RoHoEn. Your cool, green needles have never faded to brown but instead remained vibrant throughout your time at the Garden.