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. 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.
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 Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (FJHG), a private nonprofit organization, has 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.