Shofuso Japanese House & West Fairmount Park

Shufuso is a traditional 17th century Japanese house and garden. This villa was featured at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) in New York City in 1956. 2 years later it was reconstructed in West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It was built in 1953 as a gift from Japan to America, a post war friendship between the two countries. It uses traditional Japanese materials and techniques.

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Shufuso fell into disrepair over the years. It was restored in 1976 for the Bicentennial Celebration.

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Internationally known Japanese artist Hiroshi Senju offered to donated 20 murals featuring his favorite motifs, waterfalls in Shufuso colors. The original “tokonoma” alcove and “fusuma” sliding doors of Shofuso were destroyed by vandalism.

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For $2 you can feed the koi fish and turtles. The bigger turtle came out to beg for food. The little turtle would climb on top of the big one while in the water.

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The garden was really nice but also really small. The size of it was a bit of a disappointment but it’s still nice to check out. The traditional style villa was nice to see.

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We planned on walking to the Benjamin Franklin Institute but realized our cab ride to the garden was kind of long. We ended up taking PHLASH bus back. Philly makes it easy to get around.  Along the way we found a tree house built in the park near the Japanese garden. It was nice but I ran out of it as soon as possible because there were quite a few wasps in it.

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9 thoughts on “Shofuso Japanese House & West Fairmount Park

  1. I’m always surprised at the number of public Japanese gardens built in cities both big and small. I found a tiny, somewhat neglected Japanese garden behind the police station in Olympia, WA. It was given to the city of Olympia by a sister city in Japan (forgot which one), but apparently Olympia’s public maintenance crew didn’t know how to care for it or they just didn’t have the budget. It was clean, and that was about it. Kinda sad. The Shufuso by comparison looks like a gem, especially with that koi pond. (And the turtles! I love turtles.)

    It’s also rare to find a traditional Japanese house like that in the US. I’m glad it’s been restored and maintained. I like that the rooms open up to the outdoors, though I imagine it must be extremely cold in the winter. 🙂

    1. It’s closed in winter. The ceiling were so low Victor had to duck in some places. It was really nice. They had some other angel looking fish and they went crazy when food was thrown in the pond. The bigger turtle came out to beg.

    2. It’s closed in winter. The ceilings were so low Victor had to duck in some places. It was really nice. They had some other angel looking fish and they went crazy when food was thrown in the pond. The bigger turtle came out to beg.

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