The Japanese House offers cultural fun in West Fairmount Park

by Kim Andrews

Parkside residents don’t have to go to Center City to have an eye-opening cultural experience; Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is right next door. The Japanese House is closed for regular visitation during the winter season, but offers a slew of fun classes at the nearby Sakura Pavilion, two of four remaining buildings from the 1876 Centennial Exposition, which took place in this part of West Fairmount Park. The other two remaining buildings from the Centennial are the Ohio House, which houses the Centennial Café, and Memorial Hall, which houses the Please Touch Museum. Shofuso means “Pine Breeze Villa” and Sakura means “cherry blossom” in Japanese.

Shofuso’s Sundays at Sakura is a series of youth and adult workshops that emphasize Japanese culture with fun activities in walking distance to the Parkside neighborhood.

The programs are held in the renovated brick Centennial Buildings behind the greenhouses of the Horticultural Center, about 75 yards from Shofuso’s front gate. Free parking is available.Take a look at the Parkside Happening section for a complete list of activities.

  • Preschool Stories and Crafts (Ages 3 to 5) 10:00am – 10:45am: 
You and your little one can learn about Japan together through age-appropriate storybooks and craft projects. Parent/Child Pairing: $10, each additional child $5.
  • Dec. 2 Suki’s Kimono /Craft: Folded Kimonos
  • Jan 6 Peach Boy/Craft: Peach Sculptures
Feb 3 The Funny Little Woman/Craft: Oni Masks
  • March 3 Little Daruma and Little BYO Daikoku/Craft: Daruma Collages
  • Brunch and Learn: Vegetarian Sushi for Beginners (adults)
December 2, 11:30am – 1:30pm: Spend a relaxing Sunday at the Sakura Pavilion learning to make veggie sushi and catching up with friends. The workshop will conclude with a cup of tea on Shofuso’s veranda. Adults: $30 (includes juice mixes for mimosas and take home bamboo mat).

The Friends of the Japanese House and Garden (FJHG), the nonprofit organization that administers and operates Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, is excited to finally be able to offer year-round programming to its neighbors in Parkside and everyone in the Philadelphia region in our comfortable heated classroom at Sakura Pavilion.

The Japanese House and Garden are beautiful throughout all four seasons, but the 17th century-style house is unheated. Since visitors must remove their shoes before entering the traditional Japanese structure, Shofuso closes for the coldest months. Our winter programs are at Sakura Pavilion, which is warm and toasty, and attendees can keep their shoes on!

  • January 6 Manga (ages 9 to 14)
February 3 Japanese Stab Binding Books (ages 8 to 11)
  • March 3 Hinamatsuri Dolls (ages 6 to 8)
  • Adult/Child Workshops (ages 6 to 10) 1:00 – 2:30pm: 
Explore your creativity as a family while learning about the arts of Japan in these all ages workshops. Parent/Child Pairing: $25, each additional child: $10.
  • January 6 Suminagashi Marbled Paper
March 3 Block Prints

In addition to our Sundays at Sakura Youth and Adult Workshop Series, Shofuso hosts Japanese classical dance lessons the first and third Sundays of each month throughout the winter, and Japanese tea ceremony lessons each Saturday beginning in February. No experience is necessary to begin studying dance or tea ceremony; the gracious teachers welcome all. More information and registration for all our programs is at

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. The newly-restored, historic 1876 Sakura Pavilion is year-round space for programming, classes, meetings, events, and exhibitions.


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