Section 1: About RoHoEn


Training: Gardening Volunteer 

Learn how to maintain & grow the Garden as a volunteer!

Learn what you need to know to be a Gardening Volunteer at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix! Gardeners

perform basic maintenance such as managing weed control and leaf raking. Through this role you can learn Japanese gardening philosophy and techniques which will open doors to other opportunities to plant and prune in the Garden.

Training Sections:


Our Mission & Vision​

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The Japanese Friendship Garden, named RoHoEn  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.
Our Mission
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.
Our Vision
  • 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.


Read More About Our Sister City - Himeji, Japan


Our Garden

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​ 

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! 


Section 2: About Volunteering

Volunteer Mission Statement

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!

Volunteer Benefits

(link to the volunteer genkan)

​There are many benefits to volunteering with RoHoEn. Click here to read more about how we show our appreciation for our volunteers at the Garden. Some examples are hours spent equalling a membership with the Garden and other benefits. 

​Code of conduct/dress code/agreement

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!


Volunteering at RoHoEn

Emergency Procedures


Please read through the information below to prepare for the rare instance of an emergency while you are volunteering at RoHoEn.

Emergency procedures:

  • SAFETY FIRST!! Please remain calm. The general public will look to us to the lead in all situations, emergency (9-1-1) & non-emergency.

  • See something suspicious? CRIME STOP 602- 262 -6151 .

  • Depending on the situation, close the gift shop and lock the door. If the situation is beyond staff control, limit the scope of the problem by keeping people in or out.

  • Document as much information as possible. For example: names, phone numbers, physical descriptions, dates, times, etc.

  • Get a gift shop staff member for any issues that come up which are non-emergency related. They can help you know what to do and give authority and instruction so you don't have to handle it on your own. 

  • If you are far from the Gift Shop or can't leave the area where you are located, please call the gift shop number: (602) 291-9209.


Section 3: About Gardening Volunteers


Your Role as a Gardening Volunteer

The primary role of our Gardening Volunteers is to maintain and care for 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.


"Gardening Volunteers help maintain the Garden using authentic Japanese tools and techniques to ensure it stays refined and polished."


Japanese Garden Design

"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

The most important elements of a Japanese garden are:

  • Water

  • Rocks and sand

  • Bridges

  • Stone lanterns and water basins

  • Fences and gates

  • Trees and flowers

  • Fish

Out of these, water, stone and trees are the most essential. At RoHoEn you can enjoy every one of these elements in our garden design and learn more about how to maintain and nurture their functionality in the Garden. 

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

​Techniques & Tools


​Learn the names and usage of various Japanese gardening tools as well as how to perform basic garden techniques

The Tools

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:

  1. ​Raking & sweeping

  2. ​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”

Garrett Eckbo


ねじり鎌 - Nejiri Kama: Hoe

Usage: weeding

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

Usage: shearing/shaping

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.

Important Links

​For Garden Volunteers

Garden Rules: Click here

Photo Shoot Policy: Click here

Garden Q&A/FAQ: Click here

The Techniques

​Read below to learn how to use a Kama (hoe) to weed and also how to rake and sweep properly at RoHoEn.

  1. ​How to weed with a Kama

  2. ​How to rake and sweep 

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. 


Section 4: Quiz




Section 4: Next Steps


Next Steps

Congratulations on passing your quiz and learning all about your new role as a Garden Ambassador at RoHoEn. 


Next steps:

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-

  1. On the day of your first shift, come to the Gift Shop and sign into the volunteer hour log.

  2. 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. 

  3. 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. :)

  4. 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: 

Contact Volunteer Coordinator