Natural beauty at amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.

Visitors stroll through endless natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.
Visitors stroll through endless natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park.

Please enjoy the following photographs. They were taken today at the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s wonderful Balboa Park. As you can plainly see, natural beauty is abundant in this amazing garden. I hope you have a chance to visit.

Gleaming droplets of water descend from a hollow bamboo kakei into the tranquil, cleansing tsukubai basin.
Gleaming droplets of water descend from a hollow bamboo kakei into the tranquil, cleansing tsukubai basin.
Close photo of a damp, rather ordinary leaf which was lying on some grass.
Close photo of a damp, rather ordinary leaf which was lying on some grass.
Even age and imperfections in this fallen leaf are beautiful beyond description.
Even age and imperfections in this fallen leaf are beautiful beyond description.
A rocky island, seemingly, in the karesansui dry stone garden, with carefully raked gravel encouraging meditation.
A rocky island, seemingly, in the Karesansui Dry Stone Garden, with carefully raked gravel inviting meditation.
Looking upward into the sunlit leafy canopy near the koi pond.
Looking upward into the sunlit leafy canopy near the koi pond.
The day's light makes striking patterns of living green.
The day’s light makes striking patterns of living green.
The base of one carefully tended tiny tree in the bonsai garden.
The base of one carefully tended tiny tree in the bonsai garden.
Flaming red bougainvillea blooms catch the eye of a young person walking through the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego.
Bright red bougainvillea bracts catch the eye of a young person walking through the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego.
Bougainvillea flowers are beautiful sights in the bonsai garden.
Bougainvillea red is an especially beautiful sight in the bonsai garden.
A yellow day-lily which is growing near the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate.
A yellow day-lily which is growing near the Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate.
Bamboo leaves flutter in a gentle San Diego breeze.
Bamboo leaves flutter in the gentle San Diego breeze.
This small sculpture of a child is a mystery. One of the groundskeepers told me that. It might be a young Buddha, or an infant who tragically died. No one seems to know its history.
This small sculpture is a mystery according to one of the groundskeepers. It was placed in the garden by someone unseen.  The sculpture might be a young Buddha. It might have been placed here by someone who lost a child.  No one seems to know its history.
Bright green palm fronds produce instant human delight.
Bright green palm fronds produce instant human delight.
Close-up photograph of the amazing seed pod of a sago palm.
Close-up photograph of the amazing, strange seed pod of a sago palm.
Delicate white flowers of the star jasmine seem to have descended into this world from a heavenly place.
Delicate white flowers of the star jasmine seem to have descended into this world from a heavenly place.
Close-up photo of torn wood fibers where a dead tree limb finally separated from the trunk.
Close-up photo of torn wood fibers where a dead tree limb finally separated from the trunk.
Water cascading over stone shines in the sunlight. A small happy river flows through the bottom of the spacious garden canyon.
Water cascading over stone shines in the sunlight. A small gentle river flows through the bottom of the spacious garden canyon.
Looking down through magical, glistening, jewel-like water.
Looking down through magical, jewel-like water.
Jumbled leaves have turned many colors.
Jumbled leaves have turned many colors.
Nature's fantastic patterns are evident everywhere you turn in the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.
Nature’s fantastic patterns are evident everywhere you turn in the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden.
I believe this is a white azalea, but I'm not certain.
After being corrected by a great reader, this appears to be a gardenia.  I first thought it might be a white azalea!  That shows you how much I know!
Visitors at the Japanese Friendship Garden stand in the shade of the Inamori Pavilion looking down at a very beautiful waterfall.
Visitors at the Japanese Friendship Garden stand in the shade of the Inamori Pavilion looking down at a pleasant waterfall.
A pink saucer magnolia bloom and buds. In the background you can see the new Inamori Pavilion, which opened this year.
A pink saucer magnolia bloom and buds. In the background you can see the new Inamori Pavilion, which opened this year.
Another photographer was recording the infinite natural beauty that anyone can plainly see at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Another photographer was recording the carefully arranged natural beauty at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Even dry brown curled leaves can take one's breath away.
Even dry brown curled leaves can take one’s breath away.
Leaves and shadows of leaves.
Leaves and shadows of leaves.
If one small place can contain such abundant wonder, imagine what the vast universe holds.
If one small place can contain such abundant wonder, imagine what the vast universe holds.
Natural beauty at the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden
Natural beauty at the amazing Japanese Friendship Garden

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Japanese Self-Defense Force ships visit San Diego.

Three Japanese warships are visiting downtown San Diego's waterfront.
Three Japanese warships are visiting downtown San Diego’s waterfront.

This afternoon I spotted three ships of the Japanese Self-Defense Force in San Diego. They were docked at the downtown Cruise Ship Terminal on the busy Embarcadero. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force must be training with the US Navy off our coast, although I find nothing about any joint naval exercises when I do a quick search of Google News.

A year ago I spotted three warships belonging to Japan docked in the same spot. I see the big training ship Kashima, of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, has returned. (Last year an article I researched referred to it as a landing ship.)  I suspect the other two are destroyers, like last time.

It’s an interesting sight you don’t often see up close, so I took a few pics!

A sailboat on San Diego Bay checks out an unusual sight on a cloudy day.
A sailboat on San Diego Bay checks out an unusual sight on a cloudy day.
Bow of big training ship Kashima, of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Bow of big training ship Kashima, of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

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Cherry blossoms at Japanese Friendship Garden.

Beautiful cherry blossoms have opened at the Japanese Friendship Garden!
Beautiful cherry blossoms have opened at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

Because a big storm is on its way into Southern California, I got my weekend walk in this morning. I didn’t want to venture too far and get caught in the rain, so I decided to head up to Balboa Park to check out the cherry blossoms at the Japanese Friendship Garden!

Next weekend is the big, super popular Cherry Blossom Festival. I don’t like crowds generally, so my small adventure today was just perfect! Relatively few people were visiting the quiet Friendship Garden. I guess other folks, like me, were worried about getting caught in a chilly shower. Turns out most of my walk was in sunshine!

Not long ago the Japanese Friendship Garden occupied just a small narrow spot in Balboa Park, and visitors could see and enjoy everything with a very short visit. No longer! The spectacular expansion into the canyon and additional coming expansions promise to make this a truly world-class garden.

In addition to traditional Japanese garden features and the cherry blossoms, one can walk among many beautiful trees and down shady hillsides of flowers, which include azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas. Anyone with an interest in gardening must go see this incredible place!

A shout out to the friendly folks at the garden!

View of the Japanese Friendship Garden expansion in Balboa Park canyon.
View of the Japanese Friendship Garden expansion in Balboa Park canyon.

The above pic was taken from a viewing deck between the House of Hospitality and the Tea Pavilion. We’ll be heading down there in a bit!

Sign near entrance explains history of the garden. In 1915 a Japanese tea house was built at another location in Balboa Park for the Panama-California Exposition.
Sign near entrance explains history of the garden. In 1915 a Japanese tea house was built at another location in Balboa Park for the Panama-California Exposition.
Today's Japanese Tea Pavilion is next to the Friendship Garden and offers many choices of tea and great food.
Today’s Japanese Tea Pavilion is next to the Friendship Garden and offers many choices of tea and great food.

If you’ve ever been to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, you’ve surely seen the Japanese Tea Pavilion right next door. Next time you enjoy a concert, grab a bite here!

People enter Japanese Friendship Garden. The San-Kei-En entrance stone, gift from San Diego's sister city Yokohama, translates Three Scene Garden--Water, Pastoral and Mountain.
People enter Japanese Friendship Garden. The San-Kei-En entrance stone, gift from San Diego’s sister city Yokohama, translates Three Scene Garden–Water, Pastoral and Mountain.
Water gently drips from hollow bamboo, inviting meditation.
Water gently drips from hollow bamboo, inviting meditation.
Visitors check out thought-provoking historical and cultural displays in the Exhibit House.
Visitors check out thought-provoking historical and cultural displays in the Exhibit Hall.

The Exhibit Hall includes a room with benches that look out a big window at the Dry Stone Garden. The gravel is raked into simple patterns for meditation. I didn’t want to disturb people, so no photos of that.

Oribe-doro lantern. Exhibit House with views of Karesansui (Dry Stone Garden) in background.
Oribe-doro lantern. Exhibit Hall with views of Karesansui (Dry Stone Garden) in background.
The amazing Koi Pond is a favorite spot to relax and feel alive.
The amazing Koi Pond is a favorite spot to relax and feel alive.
The koi are colorful and curious. They seemed interested in my camera!
The koi are colorful and curious. They seemed interested in my camera!
People stroll slowly along a tranquil path in one of San Diego's most beautiful gardens.
People stroll along a tranquil path in one of San Diego’s most beautiful gardens.
Stepping stones lead toward the Activity Room, where various Japan-related clubs meet.
Stepping stones lead toward the Activity Room, where various Japan-related clubs meet.
Looking down at a path that leads into canyon. New construction is a large pavilion that will open later this year.
Looking down at a path that leads into canyon. New construction is a large pavilion that will open later this year.
A special Bonsai Exhibit area.
A special Bonsai Exhibit area.
Perfectly pruned bonsai includes a bright red bougainvillea!
Perfectly pruned bonsai includes a bright red bougainvillea!
That bright tree in the distance is a pink trumpet tree.
That bright tree in the distance is a pink trumpet tree.
Light of Friendship.
Light of Friendship.
Walking down a path through a scene of carefully maintained beauty.
Walking down a path through a scene of carefully maintained beauty.
The Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate leads into the canyon, where the Japanese Cherry trees await. That's another pink trumpet tree!
The Charles C. Dail Memorial Gate leads into the canyon, where the Japanese Cherry trees await. That’s another pink trumpet tree!
Former San Diego mayor Charles Dail created the Sister City Association with Yokohama.
Former San Diego mayor Charles Dail created the Sister City Association with Yokohama.
Visitors head down a fairly easy hiking trail to see the cherry blossoms and other flowers.
Visitors head down an easy hiking trail to see cherry blossoms and other flowers.
Another look at the large canyon pavilion buildings, which will be finished soon.
Another look at the large canyon pavilion buildings, which will be finished soon.
Here are some cherry blossoms! Many are blooming, even though it isn't spring quite yet!
Here are some cherry blossoms! Many are blooming, even though it isn’t spring quite yet!
A sparkling man-made river runs through the canyon bottom, surrounded by a gorgeous landscape.
A sparkling man-made river runs through the canyon bottom, surrounded by a gorgeous landscape.
A waterfall and gurgling, bubbling water put me in a thoughtful mood.
A waterfall and gurgling, bubbling water put me in a thoughtful mood.
A patient gardener tends to one of the many shrubs and plants in the garden.
A steady-handed expert gardener tends to one of the many shrubs and plants in the garden.  I envy him!
Delicate pink cherry blossoms hover over lush green grass.
Delicate pink cherry blossoms hover over lush green grass.
Gauzy pink blooms seem so new and promising.
Gauzy pink blooms seem so new and promising.
One last photo of the new pavilion under construction. Looks inviting!
One last photo of the new pavilion under construction. Looks inviting!
There are about 160 ornamental cherry trees in this grove. I think I'll be going here more often!
There are about 160 ornamental cherry trees in this grove. I think I’ll be going here more often!
The Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego's Balboa Park is a place of beauty.
The Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park is a place of beauty.

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Japanese warships docked in San Diego Bay.

Three ships of Japanese Self-Defense Force visit San Diego.
Three ships of Japanese Self-Defense Force visit San Diego.

Those don’t look like cruise ships! Docked at the Cruise Ship Terminal are three visiting Japanese warships. They are participating in Dawn Blitz, a multilateral amphibious exercise. The two destroyers and big landing ship are part of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. Carefree sailboats on a sparkling blue San Diego Bay make an interesting contrast with the gray, ominous warships! Head south past the Coronado Bay Bridge and you’d see a long row of American Navy ships belonging to the Pacific Fleet.

Japanese warships docked at the Cruise Ship Terminal.
Japanese warships docked at the Cruise Ship Terminal.

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