HomeAsian AmericansPhiladelphia’s Shofuso Japanese house, garden showcase culture

Philadelphia’s Shofuso Japanese house, garden showcase culture

The Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center spotlights Japanese culture in the Fairmount Park community in Philadelphia with its historic house and garden. 

Built in 1953 and given to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Shofuso Japanese House was donated to West Fairmount Park in 1958 to be used as a cultural center and museum, ABC7 reported. 

“People are getting more and more interested in Japanese culture,” said Executive Director Kazumi Teune, ABC7 reported. “Our mission is to share the Japanese culture in Philadelphia. People are embracing shogun culture, anime, samurai, sake and it’s all here. Throughout the year we have programs that celebrate the Japanese culture.”

Sandi Polyakov, the head gardening curator of the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, said the destination allows people to “transport you to another time and place.” He added, “It’s almost like you’re not in Philadelphia anymore,” according to ABC7

“The setting, the architecture, it’s all there to convey a sense of feeling,” said Polyakov, ABC7 reported. “The idea of peace and emptiness and quiet beauty were very important in 16th-century Japan. These traditions have carried on for hundreds of years, including today.”

The house was designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura in Japan and prioritized the use of traditional techniques and materials, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia reported. In 2007, artist Hiroshi Senju donated 20 murals to Shofuso.

The site includes a pond garden with a waterfall and koi fish, a tea garden accompanied by a traditional tea house and a courtyard garden that leads to a bathhouse. 

In 2016, Shofuso was named the third-ranked Japanese garden in North America by the Journal of Japanese Gardening. The site was also listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places in 2013 and has been a part of the Fairmount Park National Historic District since 1972, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia reported. 

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