The garden here was built in 1978 as an expression of the relationship between California State University, Dominguez Hills and the members of the surrounding communities. The kanji that form the name, shin ('friendship') and wa ('harmony'), are meant to represent the bond that is physically manifested in the garden. The construction of the garden brought together volunteers and donations from the university, local communities, the Gardena Valley Gardener's Association, local chapters of the California Landscape Contractor's Association and the California Association of Nurserymen. Ground was broken February 19 and the dedication held November 19.
Yamashiro Haruo's design for the 1100 square foot space is a miniature island landscape dominated by mountains and forests and surrounded by the sea. It combines elements of a tea garden with that of a karesansui dry garden. Volunteers selected 60 tons of Malibu rock from Ventura County and then transported it to the campus site. Each stone was moved into place by hand. This is a traditional garden with the stones buried deep into the ground for an appearance of stability and groupings (ishi-gumi) of three, five or seven. The water is represented by rocks, pebbles and sand arranged in a stream pattern running north to south below the stairway. The main architectural feature is a teahouse (chashitsu) built from redwood and cedar. The structure is sited to obscure the concrete staircase behind. It is used for tea ceremony and other university events. Accenting the teahouse are black pines, trained to bow away from the teahouse and toward the visitor, as if to gesture one forward. A tsukubai water basin and two stone lanterns (yukimi-doro and kasuga-doro) are sited to lend depth and perspective to the composition.