2022 Shofuso Garden Assistant Job Description

The Garden Assistant is a full-time, seasonal position at Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, which is operated by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP). JASGP’s goal is to make Greater Philadelphia a nationally and globally known center of Japanese art, business, and culture by promoting mutual friendship and understanding between Greater Philadelphia and Japan. At JASGP, we continually celebrate cultural flexibility and curiosity through ongoing training and professional development. As an equal opportunity employer, we stay true to our mission by ensuring that our staff and board are representative of our varied stakeholders, including our neighbors in Philadelphia’s West Park and the Japanese heritage community in the Philadelphia region.

JASGP is a private nonprofit organization that connects Japan and Philadelphia through: operating and preserving Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, which hosts over 45,000 visitors each year; producing the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival with up to 15,000 attendees; presenting a US-Japan Business & Public Policy Series; and providing Japanese arts, business, and cultural programming for all ages.


Located in the west section of Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, PA, Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center is a 17th century style Japanese house featuring a traditional viewing garden with a koi pond, tea garden, and courtyard garden. Originally built in Nagoya, Japan, Shofuso has been in Philadelphia since 1958 and is currently preserved and interpreted by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia. Our mission is to promote intercultural understanding through Japanese art and cultural programing, and the continued preservation of the historic House and Garden.

Under the direct supervision of the Head Gardener, the Garden Assistant will contribute to maintaining the two-acre site, as well as upkeep of the immediate surrounding park area. Work done within the walls of Shofuso will demonstrate authentic Japanese gardening principles and techniques, for which ongoing educational training will be a primary aspect of the position. This position is full-time, seasonal, and has a flexible ending date. Wages are set and paid by the City of Philadelphia. In 2022, this position pays $14.25 / hr., and increases to $15 / hr. on July 1, 2022.


  • Position begins on or about June 1, 2022 and continues until on or about December 1, 2022.
  • Up to 37.5 hours per week.
  • Weekend and evening hours for special events scheduled in advance will occasionally be required.
  • Schedule flexibility with advance approval by the Head Gardener.

Key Responsibilities

  • Support the Head Gardener in all aspects of fostering the garden including but not limited to weeding, raking, stone setting, planting, watering, maintaining bamboo, pruning, general cleanup, pond and stream work, caring for the koi, and general maintenance tasks.
  • Develop a commitment to and proficiency in Japanese gardening techniques in various capacities through hands-on instruction and personal study.
  • Aid in maintaining plant and soil health through a variety of integrated pest management and fertilization strategies.  
  • Maintain a clean and organized working environment, especially during open hours.
  • Work with and develop productive relationships with garden volunteers.
  • Staff special events (e.g. Cleanup Days, Volunteer Orientations).
  • Assist in caring for and maintaining the historic Japanese house.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Desired Competencies

  • Nature Oriented – Exhibit an appreciation for ecology, botany, stones, and natural phenomena.
  • Art, Design, & Composition – A background or active interest in the arts is highly encouraged. Japanese
  • Gardening is concerned with aesthetic principles as much as it is with horticulture, therefore the ability to study, understand, and implement design concepts is paramount.
  • Craft – A general understanding of the working of natural materials (wood, stone, rope, tools, etc.), or experience in a craft-based pursuit is beneficial.
  • Culture – Passionate about varying aspects of Japanese culture, past and present, as well as contemporary concepts in historical site interpretation and management.

Required Qualifications

  • Educational background in horticulture or related field, and/or 1+ year(s) experience with gardening/landscaping/craft-based work
  • Ability to systematically prioritize a list of tasks and effectively manage time.
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently or collaboratively as needed.
  • Excellent communication skills and comfort interacting with the public and volunteers
  • Must have reliable transportation to and from work
  • Pass a civil service clearance check
  • Must be a resident of the City of Philadelphia. Proof of vaccination required.

Physical Requirements

  • The ability to perform moderate lifting 40-50 pounds regularly
  • The ability to move safely over uneven terrain or in confined spaces
  • The ability to safely climb ladders
  • The ability to work outdoors in inclement weather and sun exposure
  • Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls
  • Stand for sustained periods of time

Application deadline is April 15, 2022
To apply, email your resume and cover letter to:
Sandi Polyakov, Head Gardener
Please include any optional accompanying visual material via email
No phone calls, please.

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