Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix


You all know how much I appreciate Japanese gardens. I got to visit another one today. This one is relatively new: the original part—the teahouse, which was off limits today—was built in 1996 (though it had been in planning since 1976!) and the newer part—the koi pond and surrounds—was completed in 2002. I was surprised to learn this from the docent, since most American Japanese gardens are older, and the garden looked well established to me. (I suppose 2002 was twenty years ago, so that’s probably enough time for things to establish themselves somewhat.)

I found this garden to have a more lush look than the other Southwestern Japanese gardens I’ve seen, in Tucson and Albuquerque. The pond was the large, main feature of this garden. The docent told me that there were 250 koi fish in it, and that they multiply readily, so that when the population hits about 1000(!) the garden staff have to thin it out a bit. (I didn’t think to ask what they do with the excess fish; my guess is that they sell them to other gardens.) He also shocked me by telling me that koi fish can live to the age of 100; I had had no idea.

After I left the garden, I went to check out a nearby vegan Thai restaurant. The basil eggplant with tofu and vegetables hit the spot.

The sunlight and temperature were perfect after that, at 3:30 in the afternoon, to pedal back to my host’s place in Tempe. The ride took about an hour and a half, and most of it was along a dedicated, car-free bike path along the river and lakefront.

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