This month, Shofuso Japanese House and Gardens is a focal story in Public Garden Magazine, the journal of the American Public Gardens Association. JASGP’s Executive Director Kim Andrews and Education Manager Nicole Schaller collaborated on an article about the program, which can be viewed as a PDF here.
In 1876, Philadelphia hosted the Centennial World Exposition, a huge world’s fair that attracted over one million visitors during its seven months. Japan, which had been closed to the Western world until 1853, took the opportunity to establish a large presence in Philadelphia, and created a Japanese bazaar exhibit on the site which borders Shofuso’s garden, the first in the United States.
JASGP’s Executive Director Kim Andrews’ preexisting interest in the Centennial World Exposition encouraged AECOM of Burlington, New Jersey to conduct an archaeological excavation. The results revealed artifacts from the Japanese carpenters who came to Philadelphia in 1876 to build the exhibition buildings, and inspired staff at Shofuso to develop the “Japan in 1876 Philadelphia” educational program. The curriculum aims to advance scholarship about the early experiences of Japanese construction workers in the nineteenth-century United States, to further understand Shofuso’s place in history, and to promote intercultural understanding of Japanese history and culture to grades K-12 while engaging with West Philadelphia public and charter school students.