Training: Garden Ambassador Learn how to protect & promote RoHoEn as a volunteer!
Learn what you need to know to be an Ambassador Volunteer at the Japanese Friendship Garden! Ambassadors enhance visitor experience answering questions and giving directions for Garden etiquette while walking our lovely garden paths.
Section 1: About RoHoEn
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.
Section 2: About Volunteering
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.
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 Ship 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
- 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.
There is a level system in traditional Japanese culture based on the "three friends of winter", the plum, bamboo and pine. Pine trees maintain their greenness even in the coldest winters, bamboo grows without crouching, and plums endure long winters, blooming even in the snow. In Japanese these three symbolic plants that do not wither through winter, together make a famous grouping called the Shōchikubai (松竹梅).
In this three-tier ranking system the pine (matsu, 松) is the highest, followed by bamboo (take, 竹) as the middle, and plum (ume, 梅) as the basic level.
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.
Richard Newton of Let'sJapan described ShoChikuBai's symbolism beautifully: "These three “Friends of Winter” essentially provide an allegory for weathering hard times through their various attributes. A pine tree’s roots are tenacious and will borrow deep, or, as need be, find their way to hold-fast on even the craggiest, rock-strewn outcropping. They endure, no matter the circumstances. Bamboo finds its strength in knowing how to give and bend without breaking when even the strongest winds blow. In Japan the plum tree is the first to bud and blossom in the late winter, even when its limbs may remain snow-laden: the plum gives us hope, showing us that spring and new opportunities for beauty and joy are just around the corner. Strength and tenacity, the ability to bend but not break when adversity swirls around us, the promise of hope even when the cold won’t release its grasp on us. The Three Friends of Winter, Sho-Chiku-Bai — 松竹梅 — our three friends of winter." - Source
Our Volunteer Schedule & Hours
Our Volunteer Policies & Procedures
Policies, procedures & acknowledgement
The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix (JFG) - RoHoEn 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 the 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 check the Acknowledgement form provided at the end of these policies. If there is anything you do not understand or if you require further clarification, please contact your volunteer supervisor.
Equal Opportunity/Harassment Policy
JFG prohibits unlawful discrimination against volunteers based on age, race, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information, or any other applicable status protected by state or local law. Unlawful harassment includes verbal or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment. Prohibited behavior may include but is not limited to the following:
Written form such as cartoons, e-mails, posters, drawings, or photographs.
Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory comments, slurs, or jokes.
Physical conduct such as assault, or blocking an individual’s movements.
Sexual Harassment Policy
JFG strongly opposes sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual conduct. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Conduct which may violate this policy includes, but is not limited to, sexually implicit or explicit communications whether in:
Written form, such as cartoons, posters, calendars, notes, letters, e-mail.
Verbal form, such as comments, jokes, foul or obscene language of a sexual nature, gossiping, or questions about another’s sex life or repeated unwanted requests for dates.
Physical gestures and other nonverbal behavior, such as unwelcome touching, grabbing, fondling, kissing, massaging, and brushing up against another’s body.
ADA and Religious Accommodation Policy
JFG will make reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with known disabilities and volunteers whƒose work requirements interfere with a religious belief unless doing so would result in an undue hardship to JFG or a direct threat.
If you believe there has been a violation of the EO policy or harassment based on the protected classes outlined in this policy, including sexual harassment, please use the following complaint procedure. Report the incident to your supervisor who will investigate the matter and take corrective action. Your complaint will be kept as confidential as practicable.
Complaint Resolution Procedure
If a situation persists that you believe is detrimental to you or to JFG, you should follow the process outlined in the Equal Opportunity/Harassment policy above. If your complaint relates to day-to-day operations, such as work hours/environment, uniform issues, etc., please discuss these with your volunteer supervisor.
Drug-Free Workplace Policy
To ensure a safe and productive work environment JFG prohibits the use, sale, dispensation, manufacture, distribution, or possession of alcohol, drugs, controlled substances, or drug paraphernalia on any JFG Garden or Office areas. Any violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including volunteer position termination.
Electronic Equipment Policy
To ensure that the use of electronic systems and business equipment is consistent with JFG legitimate business interests, authorized representatives of JFG may monitor the use of such equipment from time to time.
The following behaviors and activities are prohibited and considered improper use of the Internet, E-mail or voicemail systems provided by JFG: viewing pornography, obscene or offensive materials, copying, pirating or downloading software and electronic files without permission, sending or posting discriminatory, harassing, or threatening messages that defame or slander other individuals, etc. These examples are provided as guidelines only and are not all-inclusive.
Safety and Health Policy
JFG is committed to providing a safe and healthy working environment. In this connection, JFG makes every effort to comply with relevant federal and state occupational health and safety laws and to develop the best feasible operations, procedures, technologies, and programs conducive to such an environment.
If you witness an accident involving a volunteer, employee, or guest, notify your Supervisor immediately. Likewise, if you sustain any accidental injury at work, you must report the accident to your Supervisor or a member of management immediately. The responsibility of all volunteers of JFG in this regard include:
Exercising maximum care and good judgment at all times to prevent accidents and injuries;
Wash thoroughly after handling any chemical substance;
Immediately reporting to Supervisors and seeking first-aid for all injuries;
Immediately reporting unsafe conditions, equipment, or practices to Supervisory personnel;
When required, using safety equipment provided by JFG; Observing conscientiously all safety rules and regulations at all times;
Notifying their Supervisors, before the beginning of each shift, of any medication they are taking, that may cause drowsiness or other side effects that could lead to injury to themselves, other volunteers, guests, or employees.
Workplace Violence Policy
JFG also will not condone any acts or threats of violence against JFG volunteers, employees, clients, vendors, suppliers, chartered clubs, or visitors on JFG premises at any time or while they are engaged in business with or on behalf of JFG, in the Garden or the office. JFG is committed to taking prompt and appropriate action up to and including termination, against any volunteer who engages in any threatening behavior or acts of violence or who uses any obscene, abusive, or threatening language or gestures. Such action may include notifying the police or other law enforcement personnel and prosecuting violators of this policy to the maximum extent of the law.
Attendance, punctuality, and absence without notice
Volunteers are expected to be regular and punctual in attendance. If you know you will be late, please contact the volunteer coordinator. If for any reason you must cancel your shift, please use the volunteer portal to cancel or, if for any reason you are unable to use the portal, please call or email the volunteer coordinator to notify them of your cancellation. This allows JFG to arrange for coverage of your duties and helps others continue to work in your absence. If a volunteer is not present for their shift and JFG is not notified for a total of 3 shifts, the volunteer’s access to the scheduling software may be suspended until further notice.
Voluntary or involuntary removal
Volunteers who do not adhere to the rules and procedures of JFG are subject to dismissal. Possible grounds for dismissal may include but are not limited to: gross misconduct or insubordination, theft of property or misuse of organization materials, abuse or mistreatment of guests, staff or other volunteers, failure to abide by organization policies and procedures, and failure to satisfactorily perform assigned duties.
1. JFG may at any time, for whatever reason, decide to terminate the volunteer's relationship with the agency.
2. The volunteer may at any time, for whatever reason, decide to sever their relationship with JFG.
3. Notice of such a decision should be communicated as soon as possible.
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!
Section 1: About Gardening
Your Role as a Gardening Volunteer
The primary role of our Gardening Volunteers is to maintain and nurture the plant life at RoHoEn. Japanese Gardens are a very specific type of garden and require many special skills. However, most of our gardening volunteers start with very little experience and grow to learn many of the unique aesthetics and principles that guide Japanese garden design and maintenance as they spend time in our community.
Gardening Volunteers maintain and grow the Garden using authentic Japanese tools and techniques to ensure it stays clean and polished. At first you will perform basic maintenance such as managing weed control and leaf raking. As you train under our Niwashi (Garden Curator), you may be asked to work on more skilled projects such as building bamboo fences, planting and nurturing new trees, flowers, and various plants, working with more advanced Japanese hand tools and basic light machinery such as electric trimmers to practicing Japanese pruning techniques.
In the sections below you will be introduced to the basics of Japanese Garden Design, tools and Japanese Garden Maintenance.
"Japanese gardens (日本庭園, nihon teien) are traditional gardens whose designs are accompanied by Japanese aesthetics and philosophical ideas, avoid artificial ornamentation, and highlight the natural landscape. Plants and worn, aged materials are generally used by Japanese garden designers to suggest an ancient and faraway natural landscape, and to express the fragility of existence as well as time's unstoppable advance."- Source
Japanese Garden Design
West and East Compared
So what is a Japanese Garden exactly and how are they different from your classic western garden or botanical garden?
It could be distilled to the concepts and appreciation beauty in symmetry vs. asymmetry.
Western-style gardens pay attention to architectural order and the organization of geometric patterns, presenting uniformity through their colors, textures and shapes. Formal Western garden design (think French topiary garden) expresses its art through neat, precise, and symmetrical layouts. Even the more casual Western-style garden stresses the beauty of patterns, colors and order. They often focus the viewer's attention on the skills of the gardener in creating such a beautiful space in nature.
Japanese-style gardens on the other hand, though also highly manipulated, seek to give the illusion that they are beautiful spots of unspoiled nature. They seek to create a kind of ideal nature, where the plant's natural shapes and textures are enhanced and highlighted rather than reorganized or molded into something new. They find beauty in asymmetry and seek to comprehend rather than mimic the essence of nature, bringing each symbolic element of rock, water and plant together into a pleasing composition. They often focus the viewer's attention on the landscape and seek to downplay focus on the gardener's fingerprints in the garden.
Our garden was created to reflect all of the most traditional elements you might find in a classic Japanese garden. There are many modern variations which do not use all of the classic elements however, traditionally the most common are:
Rocks and sand
Stone lanterns and water basins
Bamboo fences and gates
Pines and shrubs
Out of these, water, stone and pines are the most essential. At RoHoEn you can experience each one of these elements in our garden design and learn more about how to maintain and nurture their roles in the overall garden design.
Read this basic article on Japanese garden history, design & style for a great summary.
Due to its long history, Japanese gardening has many layers of information that can be learned and explored. If you are interested in learning more in depth information about Japanese garden design you can take one of our Enrichment courses after you begin volunteering. With Enrichment courses in addition to a certain amount of hours spent volunteering with us, you will have the opportunity to level up in our program which opens new roles and responsibilities. Find out more here.
The Western garden
Variety of bright colors
Trees/shrubs in highly geometric shapes
Feature fountains, benches, statuary
The Japanese garden
Trees/shrubs capture essential natural shape
Lanterns, water basins, bamboo fences
"Gardening Volunteers help maintain the Garden using authentic Japanese tools and techniques to ensure it stays refined and polished."
Techniques & Tools
Learn the names and usage of various Japanese gardening tools as well as how to perform basic garden techniques
Gardening volunteers are our team of Garden caretakers who often start out doing the basics with the goal of experience and practice that leads to doing the basics exceptionally well. They enjoy starting out with the two important ways we refine our Garden:
Raking & sweeping
Weeding the grounds
The tools you use to do this will be quite different from the usual Western garden tools, however they are easy to get the hang of and you will find you come to love working with them due to their multi functionality and excellent design.
“Japanese gardens are probably the most highly refined and completely developed garden conceptions our world culture has known. They are perfectly suited as spaces for withdrawal, repose and as places where one seeks order in a disorderly world”
ねじり鎌 - Nejiri Kama: Hoe
You will use your kama a lot in the Garden! This lightweight, strong garden hoe with a sharpened steel blade is well-suited for weeding and slicing. You can cut grass roots with the sharp edge. Also, it is easy to pick up weeds that have been cut. The joint is at an angle, designed to reduce the strain on the wrist and make your work smoother.
木バサミ - Ki Basami: Hand Snips
Usage: detailed pruning, pine pruning & kurapia trimming
Also called 植木バサミ Ueki-Basami, the these hands snips are ancient and a Japanese pruner's main tool - one of the most recognizable symbols of a Niwashi (Japanese gardener) in the Garden.
The handles of these snips have a large, round shape, designed so that when a branch is cut, other branches are not pinched or damaged. Unlike some other pruning tools, these hand snips have no spring so the gardener's hands do not get tired even when used for a long time. Use the tip of the blade to cut a thin branch and for thicker branches, sandwich it at the base of the blade to cut.
鋸 - Nokogiri
Usage: cutting branches
A traditional pruning saw for general purpose garden pruning of small trees and shrubs. Japanese saws cut on the pull stroke, rather than the push, which puts the blade under less pressure and means less hard work for you.
When cutting a branch, hold the tip of the branch firmly with one hand to prevent the branch from moving, and then pull the saw.
ちりとり - Chiritori: Dust Pan
Usage: scooping & carrying
Also called a てみ temi, it can be used for a wide range of purposes such as weeding, cleaning fallen leaves, and dust removal. Big enough to scoop a fair bit of garden waste into without emptying constantly. These are what gardeners in Japan use when they're weeding, cleaning and sweeping up.
刈込鋏 - Karikomi Basami: Hedge Shears
The long blades and short handles of these shears provide perfect balance for detailed shaping work, while being tough enough for hedge pruning. Unlike ki-basami and pruning shears, the aim with these is not to cut each branch one by one, but to create overall tree shapes. These are used with two hands at a time however not by moving both hands at once. Instead, hold one hand in the middle of the handle to fix it and move the other hand back and forth. For karikomi basami that have the blade angled upwards slightly, gardeners turn them upside down when cutting the curved surface of the rounded shapes on shrubs for the perfect hemispheric and round silhouette.
てほうき - Te-Hougi: Bamboo hand broom
Usage: sweep cuttings/leaves from delicate surfaces
Soft enough for sweeping over delicate surfaces like moss, but tough enough to clean up even the hard to get debris. We use it to sweep off any clippings that fall on shrubs during pruning or to clean the leaves and debris from our Korean grass and kurapia. Often used in conjunction with the chiritori.
ホリホリ・山菜ナイフ - Horihori or Sansai Knife
Usage: digging, weeding, sawing
In the West this knife is known as a Hori Hori knife. The word hori means “to dig” in Japanese. In Japan it is known as レジャーナイフ Leisure Knife. The Hori Hori Knife has its origins in Japanese hunting culture and is used in many other fields besides gardening. However, its scoop-like shape that is unique to Japan, is capable of digging soil and the two-sided blade has a straight edge for weeding and cultivating, while the other is serrated for cutting roots, dividing plants, and trimming branches. It's a multipurpose knife fantastic for sawing, trimming, cutting, transplanting and weeding in the garden.
Section 4: Quiz
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 shortly 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.
Section 5: Next Steps
Congratulations on completing your quiz and learning all about your new role as a Garden Ambassador at RoHoEn.
Schedule your first ambassador shift-
Let us know you've completed this course here.
We will send you the signup link and make sure you have a chance to go through the Garden with us on your first shift. 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.
Come to the Garden as an Ambassador-
On the day of your first shift, come to the Gift Shop and sign into the volunteer hour log.
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 to wear instead.
Walk through the Garden, monitoring the path ways using the "MIGHTY" acronym from the lesson 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 hours log and returning your Hapi to the Gift shop staff.
Join our volunteer Facebook page-
to stay in the loop and get to know other volunteers!
Please email us with any questions or problems we can help you solve: