The Shinzen Friendship Garden is located on a 5 acre site within Woodward Park in Fresno, California.
The original idea for a Japanese garden arose when Woodward Park was first being developed in 1967. The concept was seen as a symbol of the sister-city relationship with Kochi-shi, Japan. Ben Nakamura let the Shinzen Friendship Garden Committee, seeking support form the local Japanese-American community as well as from Japan.
Paul Saito, a landscape architect in Los Angeles, and Nakagawa Shiro, a teahouse designer from Japan, were selected to do the design work. The designs were completed in 1974 and ground was broken the following year. Extensive land sculpting was necessary with 30,000 cubic yards of earth and 600 tons of granite moved ont he site. The design includes streams, waterfalls, seven bridges, a koi pond, extensive plantings, and pathways. The design concept involved breaking the garden into four sections, one for each season with appropriate plantings clustered in each.
The work required several years and the garden was not completed until 1981. The original garden committee was incorporated as a non-profit organization (Shinzen Garden Committee) with the City of Fresno owning the site and responsible for its maintenance. The teahouse plan was executed in 1989. It was built in Japan and re-assembled by Japanese carpenters on the shore of the pond. Over the years, several other improvements and additions have been made including: shelters, an iron fence, a pond deck, signage, an azumaya and a pathway. The work continues and the garden committee has extensive plans for the future.
The garden holds several annual events including a spring blossom festival, toro nagashi, running race, culture fair and artist events.
Before the wind of spring
Has tangled the fine threads
Of the green willow --
Now would I show it
To my love.