The majestic Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in West Fairmount Park is set to mark its 60th anniversary with a month and a half of celebratory events, kicking off on Sept. 15 with a concert and a lecture about koi.
You can soak in yet more Japanese culture at these spots in and around Philly. From art museums to boutique shops to a supermarket to and public gardens, there's plenty to explore.
Steeped in history, Shofuso is an obvious start to any Japan-inspired tour. The 17th-century-style Japanese house was built in Nagoya, Japan, by midcentury modernist architect Junzo Yoshimura and dates to 1953. It was originally conceived as part of an exhibition at NYC's Museum of Modern Art, where it stood on display before moving to its current home in West Fairmount Park.
Today, find it surrounded by a beautiful garden landscape, including a pond topped by a tiered waterfall and filled with koi. Shofuso also hosts tea ceremonies throughout the year.
Lansdowne Drive & Horticultural Drive, 60th anniversary events Sept. 15-Oct. 28, prices vary per event, 215-878-5097, japanphilly.org
Philadelphia's other noteworthy Japanese structure is inside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Named Sunkaraku, meaning evanescent joy, it celebrated its own big anniversary — its 100th — last year. The ceremonial space was designed by Japanese architect Ögi Rodö using materials like bamboo and cedar. It was originally a part of Rodö's private residence in Tokyo. In 1928, he sold it to the museum.
The teahouse is set amid an indoor garden by Matsunosuke Tatsui, one of Japan's foremost contemporary garden designers. Nearby, in the Philadelphia Collects Meiji galleries, you can see illustrations, decorated plates, vases, and other works from the Japanese Meiji period (1868–1912) from the collections of four Philadelphians.
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, 215-763-8100, philamuseum.org
This peaceful cove is tucked in among the 92 acres of Chestnut Hill's Morris Arboretum. Landscaped more than 100 years ago, it's filled with feathery Japanese Maples, spring-blooming azaleas, and a mix of conifers, which surround a series of grassy hills meant to be reminiscent of clouds.
Take a seat by the stream and spend a few quiet moments listening to the small waterfall that flows down from its top. You'll also find a standing Buddha sculpture and a stone pagoda, along with a series of Fudo (Japanese for "immovable") stones, thought to provide protection from evil spirits.
100 E. Northwestern Ave, 215-247-5777, morrisarboretum.org
While Philadelphia is filled with Asian supermarkets of all kinds, Maido! is a rarity in that it's Japanese-owned. Located in Ardmore, the small shop — named after a common greeting of the Kansai region, which closely translates to "Nice to see you again!" — sells a mix of Japanese snacks, candies, noodles, sauces, and cooking ingredients.
Don't expect a one-stop shop for your Japanese cooking needs, but there are plenty of interesting finds, like double-fermented soy sauce and koji miso, and a selection of Japanese stationery supplies. Enjoy a savory meal at the eat-in lunch counter, where options include okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and curry udon. If your timing's right, you may find a live sumo tournament streaming on the shop's TV.
5 East Lancaster Ave, Ardmore, 484-417-6745, maidoardmore.com
Designed as a "pleasure garden," Chanticleer is a 35-acre expanse in Wayne filled with tropical and perennial flowers, woodlands, water gardens, streams, and ponds — even vegetable gardens. Visitors can find hints of Japan throughout — magnolias, Japanese primrose, and ornamental shrubs, for instance — and the property's 2½-acre Asian Woods has a concentration of elements inspired by Japanese gardening.
There, a bamboo-lined path weaves its way through a shaded area interspersed with native Asian plants, including Japanese maple, iris, and laurel. A restroom at the woods' edge could easily be mistaken for a teahouse and was inspired by a trip to Japan by Chanticleer's facilities team. The path that wanders through the area leads to a creek, where a bench awaits for contemplating the beauty of the surroundings.
786 Church Rd, Wayne, 610-687-4163, chanticleergarden.org
Housing one of the area's most robust collections of Japanese art, the Princeton University Art Museum exhibits sculptures, ink illustrations, decorated sword guards, pottery, and more. Japanese objects in the museum's Asian Art gallery date from as far back as 3,500 B.C. to the early 20th century.
The upcoming temporary exhibition Picturing Place in Japan (Oct. 20-Feb. 24) will feature paintings, prints, books, and photographs that explore the idea of "place" — imaginary or real — in the Japanese artistic process.
Elm Dr, Princeton, NJ, 609-258-3788, artmuseum.princeton.edu
This sleek boutique looks almost like a curated art gallery, with minimalist housewares and gifts in uniform rows on wooden shelves. Everything on display comes from artisans in Japan, including organic cotton kitchen towels, Japanese horse-chestnut rice bowls, and Binchotan-charcoal-infused toothbrushes. Owners Kaz and Yuka Morihata travel there frequently to seek out new products rooted in the traditional and contemporary Japanese aesthetics. Don't miss the in-house tea bar, with free tea samples.
1216 Walnut St, 215-609-4972, rikumo.com
After studying abroad in Japan during high school and college, Liz Sieber opened the first Omoi Zakka Shop in 2006 in Rittenhouse. The Japanese-inspired stationery and lifestyle store has since added a second, larger location in Old City.
Both have a wealth of Japanese-crafted items, including pink-pepper incense, kitchen linens, and Traveler's Company journals — leather-bound notebooks with a cult-like following in Japan. There's also jewelry, bath products, candles, mugs, and more. The name Omoi Zakka translates to "thoughtful, useful, sundry goods," which is the guiding principle behind the whole inventory — some from Japan, some not.