Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
4 Horticultural and Lansdowne Drives
Philadelphia, PA 19131
(215) 878-5097

Places Nearby:
Philadelphia Zoo
Philadelphia Museum of Art , Rodin Museum (see Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Wagner Free Institute of Science
Please Touch Museum
Franklin Institute Science Museum
Moore Art Galleries
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Shofuso is a translation of the characters which mean Pine Breeze Villa. This is the elegant Japanese House in Fairmount Park. Built in 1953 on a design of Yoshimura Junzo in Nagoya, Japan, the house is a model of a late sixteenth to early seventeenth century Japanese palatial residence and includes a formal tea complex and a garden.

The architectural style is called shoin-zukuri, a shoin being a library or study, the focal point of a house of this type. Such a residence would have belonged to an educated member of the upper class.

Meant to exist in harmony with its garden, the house is constructed with natural materials. Strong, lightweight hinoki wood comprises the basic structure -- a raised platform with a roof supported by pillars. No structural nails are used. The floors are covered by tatami mats, and the roof is composed of many layers of hinoki bark.

Visitors will find the simplicity of design invigorating and certainly aesthetic. The main room features the built-in tsuke-shoin desk, staggered shelves, and an openwork transom or ramma. There is little furniture; even bedding in such a house was stored in a closet when not in use. The house is filled with light and space.

A traditional kitchen can be seen, with its wood and dirt floors, a wood-fired stove, and traditional cabinet. A sedan chair (kago) is displayed to illustrate how people traveled in seventeenth to nineteenth century Japan.

A wooden bridge connects the main building to a Tea House Complex. The tiny chashitsu formed an intimate space for serving ceremonial tea. A small preparation room adjoins it, along with a replica of a traditional Japanese wooden bath and toilet.

The Shofuso Garden surrounding the house was designed by Sano Tansai. Traditional plants of Japan, such as bamboo, pine, hinoki cypress, flowering plum, and azalea, are propagated in harmony with local species. Visitors can stroll through the garden on flat stepping-stone pathways, exploring stone and wooden bridges, a stone pagoda from Kyoto, and a life-size statue of Jizo, a Buddhist deity associated with the salvation of small children. The pond is home to a dozen koi, brightly colored golden carp trained to come toward the house for feeding.

A visit is spiritual and moving, truly a step into traditional Japan.

The House is operated by the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden. This organization offers a variety of special events throughout the year. Call for a calendar.

Group Tours are welcome (10 or more people), including School Groups. A Guided Tour is educational and gives insight into Japanese culture. Groups (up to 30 people) can arrange a Demonstration of the Tea Ceremony (additional fee).

Hours: Open May thru September, Wednesday - Friday 10am - 4pm. and Saturday & Sunday 11am - 5pm. Groups at other times by appointment. Call for weekend schedule in April and October. Closed November - March. Call to confirm.
Adults $7.00
Seniors $5.00
Students $5.00
Public Tea Ceremony add $30 - $40/person. Reservations required.
Groups (10 or more with reservations):
$4.00 per person, plus $20.00 processing fee. Additional fees apply for activities such as tea tasting, storytelling, and tea ceremonies. Call for further details.
Group Reservations: At least 2 weeks in advance recommended.
Lunch: Nearby picnic area (groups must reserve).
Handicapped Access: Call with your needs.
Directions: Located in Fairmount Park via Horticultural Dr.

Copyright © 1996-2014 by Patrick Tadeushuk. All Rights Reserved.