Woodward Park’s Shinzen Friendship Garden at risk of closure


FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The Shinzen Friendship Garden is a top site to see, in Fresno, tucked away inside Woodward Park, but it is currently at risk of surviving the pandemic.

“We’re looking at some time after the first of the year that we’re potentially gonna run out of money,” said Ron Yamabe, the board of directors president of Shinzen Friendship Garden.

The friendship garden boasts five acres of Japanese landscapes including a koi pond.  Yamabe says the upkeep and preservation of the garden costs thousands of dollars monthly.

“It’s just a beautiful, breathtaking experience that the city needs to preserve.”

The garden was established in 1981 and built to honor Fresno’s sister city, Kochi, Japan, the garden’s upkeep is supported by a combination of the city, individuals and community support.

“We have people that are very knowledgeable with the training and the caring of Japanese plants and trees and the city won’t have that if the Shinzen garden pulls out of the garden.”

The garden is closed to the general public only open to limited staff, volunteers. and around 300 special members of different types and levels of paid memberships and more members are needed.  9-year volunteer Ron Tsuruda says the garden is important for keeping people’s spirits up during the pandemic.  

“We never run into any grumpy people when we’re here.  So that’s the calming effect of what the garden does for people, especially now with the COVID.  If you just want to have that quiet time to yourself, this is the ideal place for it.”

Before COVID-19, the garden had around 50 volunteers helping with maintenance, but are now down to just around 10.

Shinzen Friendship Garden hopes the public will become members and/or donate until they can fully open back up to the general public.

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