1876 Japanese Garden Archaeology
In July and August 2015, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden conducted an archaeological investigation at the site of the first Japanese garden in North America. This Japanese garden from the 1876 Centennial Exposition is adjacent to the grounds of the current house and garden.
Funded by the William Penn Foundation, archaeologists from AECOM Burlington found artifacts of Japanese souvenirs, ceramics, roof tiles, and bottles; evidence of sculptures, paths, and plant specimens; and the location of the foundation stones from the Japanese Bazaar that introduced 19th century visitors to Japanese art and gardening.
Shofuso, with AECOM Burlington archaeologists, undertook the investigation of this first Japanese garden through an archaeological survey of the area of the 1876 Centennial garden, located behind Shofuso’s waterfall and accessible from Avenue of the Republic. Additional archival research was conducted based on the findings of the archaeological survey, photographic records, contemporary written descriptions, maps, and hand-drawn plans available of that garden. The final report will be made available online.
The next steps will be an educational outreach program to nearby Title 1 schools and additional archaeology in the fall of 2016, funded by the US-Japan Foundation. Possible future projects for the archaeological survey site include restoring the 1876 Japanese garden to its original appearance or installing an interpretive children’s playground using the 1876 garden map as inspiration.
Shofuso will celebrate Centennial Day, May 10, the 140th anniversary of the opening of the Centennial Exposition with an exhibition of artifacts for the remainder of May that kicks off with a lecture and walking tour Japan Uncovered: 1876 The Centennial Exposition on Wednesday, May 11.
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden in West Fairmount Park that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, from the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the installation of its contemporary paintings in 2007. Shofuso hosts over 30,000 visitors each year from more than 20 different countries. 10% of our visitors are school groups.