The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) merged with the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (FJHG), the stewards of Shofuso since 1982, in 2016. In 2017, the newly merged JASGP completed a $75,000 hinoki bark roof restoration on-time and on-budget in October 2017 (assisting the Rockefeller Foundation in replacing some gate roofs in the Japanese garden at their Pocantico Hills, NY estate), and continued to expand the number of Shofuso visitors served, from 30,000 in 2016 to almost 38,000 in 2017.
JASGP’s four program areas are:
- Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
- Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival
- US-Japan Business and Public Policy Series
- Japanese arts, business, and cultural educational programming
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden in Philadelphia’s 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 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 1957, to the site of several previous Japanese structures andJapanese gardens dating to 1876. In 2007, internationally-renowned artist Hiroshi Senju, inspired by the waterfall, donated twenty murals to Shofuso. A viewing garden with koi pond and island, a tea garden, and a courtyard garden comprise the 17th century-style Japanese garden of this historic site and museum.
The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1998 and initially focused on the tree planting efforts of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia. Echoing a sesquicentennial gift of 1,600 flowering trees made by Japan to Philadelphia in 1926, JASGP pledged to plant 1,000 cherry trees in Fairmount Park. This goal was accomplished in 2007, and the mission has been expanded to plant cherry trees in community parks throughout the region.
As the number of sakura (flowering Japanese cherry trees) increased, so too did Philadelphians’ interest in Japan. The Festival expanded to include an array of activities. What began as a single day ceremony is now a nine day celebration of all things Japanese drawing thousands annually to events across the region. Over the last 6 years Festival attendance has reached tens of thousands annually and along with the Philadelphia Flower Show has become synonymous with spring’s return to the region. Shofuso has fostered Japanese arts and culture in the region, providing a home for several partner organizations who educate the public in traditional Japanese art forms.
Chado Urasenke Tankokai Philadelphia promotes awareness of Japanese tea ceremony in Philadelphia and the surrounding region. After La Salle University discontinued its tea ceremony program, the tea school found a new home at Shofuso, offering weekly lessons to students and providing monthly tea ceremony demonstrations for the public.
JASGP is the fiscal sponsor of KyoDaiko, a Philadelphia-based community taiko drumming ensemble, performs regularly at a wide range of venues throughout the city: from school and community events, Japanese festivals, museums, and even more unusual settings such as roller derbies.
Shofuso provides Ikebana International Philadelphia Chapter 71 an authentic space for arrangements and exhibitions, allowing the public an opportunity to enjoy and experience the art of Japanese flower arrangement in a traditional setting.