Hinoki Bark Roof Restoration: October 11 - 19
Urasenke Tea Ceremony: October 22
Yokai Family Weekend: October 27-29
Extended Hours: Weekends in November and December
Shichi-Go-San Kimono Dressing and Shinto Ritual: November 11

Hinoki Bark Roof Restoration

Shofuso’s roof is made of hinoki, a Japanese cypress, and is the only one of its kind in the United States. The care and upkeep of a hinoki bark roof demands precision and knowledge of traditional roofing techniques. Only 100 people know how to work with the materials, and all are based in Japan. This October, Shofuso welcomes Tanigami Roofing Co. LLC, a roof restoration company from Nara, Japan. Under the direction of Norihiro Kawada, they will restore 20% of the hinoki bark surface (325 square feet), preserving it for an additional 15 or more years beyond its predicted life.

Take a guided tour and learn more about roof restoration and Japanese woodworking by viewing hinoki shingles and traditional tools. In addition, a scaffold ramp with a viewing platform will grant visitors a view of the Japanese craftsmen at work during special tours daily at 12 pm and 3 pm during regular admission hours. Ticketed tours are $20 ($10 for JASGP members) and will be led by Kim Andrews, JASGP’s executive director, and members of the board of directors.

The Hinoki Bark Roof Restoration Project is generously supported by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission through the Keystone Grant Project, AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc., Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., and Tanagami Roofing Company of Nara, Japan.


Truth (shin)  Goodness (zen)  Beauty (bi)

These traditional Japanese values are represented by the melding of history and culture at Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, a traditional-style Japanese house and garden that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, from the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the installation of its contemporary paintings in 2007. Shofuso was built in Japan in 1953 using traditional techniques and materials and exhibited in the courtyard at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was moved to Philadelphia in 1958, to the site of several previous Japanese structures and gardens dating to the 1876 Centennial Exposition.

The grounds on which the Japanese House now stands have contained a Japanese structure and landscaping almost continuously since 1876, when the Japanese Bazaar and Dwelling were in the area.  From 1905 until a fire in 1955, the site was occupied by a 14th century  Japanese Buddhist temple gate.  This gate had been brought to the United States for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exhibition in St. Louis, MO and donated by the Japanese consul.

Shofuso in its present incarnation was built in Nagoya, Japan in 1953, using traditional materials and techniques, exhibited at MoMA as part of “The House in the Museum Garden” series, and moved to the temple gate site in Philadelphia when the exhibition closed.

Three traditional types of Japanese gardens comprise our 1.2 acre site: a hill-and-pond style garden which is intended to be viewed from the veranda; a tsubo-niwa, or courtyard garden in the style of an urban 17th century Kyoto garden; and a roji, or tea garden, which is a rustic path to our tea house.

The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, a private nonprofit organization, has merged with the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden, which administered, operated, funded, and preserved the city-owned site since 1982. In 1999, FJHG raised $1.2 million to replace the hinoki bark roof, the only one of its kind outside Japan, and in 2007, FJHG installed new fusuma murals created by contemporary Japanese artist, Hiroshi Senju.  The murals, titled Waterfall, replaced those destroyed by vandals in the 1970s.

In 2012, FJHG partnered with the City of Philadelphia and renovated the 1876 Sakura Pavilion, two of four remaining buildings from the 1876 Centennial Exposition. The Sakura Pavilion project won the 2012 History In Pennsylvania Stewardship Award and now provides year-round space for programming, classes, meetings, events, receptions, and exhibitions.  The historic Sakura Pavilion anchors Shofuso in Philadelphia’s history in a new way and confirms Shofuso as the embodiment of friendship between Japan and the United States.

About the Japanese House

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 30,000 visitors each year from more than 20 different countries.