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garden with island in a koi pond
garden with island in a koi pond
Original photo by Emma Prushan
Life > Experiences

Visiting Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Jefferson chapter.

Last weekend, I visited the Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center, a peaceful oasis in the center of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, just 10 minutes from Jefferson’s campus.  One of the top Japanese gardens in North America, Shofuso includes two primary parts: a 17th-century style Japanese house and several connected gardens. 

When you enter Shofuso, you are greeted by the traditional tea house and several exhibits about the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, which goes farther back than one might expect. After removing your shoes, you can enter the house and explore its several rooms, including a kitchen and bathhouse. At the time of my visit, there was even a traditional tea ceremony occurring that visitors could both observe and participate in! The Shofuso staff were stationed throughout the house and were excited to answer questions and give visitors a deep dive into the house’s rich history. 

My favorite part of Shofuso though, without a doubt, was the gardens. There are several smaller gardens that wrap around the house, but the primary garden overlooks a gigantic koi pond with an island at its center. Watching the fish swimming in the pond and admiring the garden’s beautiful trees and Japanese sculptures, I forgot I was in Philadelphia. After exploring the smaller gardens, I went back to the ticket desk to buy food for the koi fish! Feeding the koi was definitely the best ending to my visit to Shofuso. All of the fish swim up to you, bubbling and trying to grab your attention. If you’re brave enough to stick your hand in a pond of hungry koi fish, you can even pet them! 

Visiting Shofuso was the perfect way to spend my Sunday afternoon! The historical site is open Wednesday through Sunday 11 am to 5 pm until the end of October with shortened weekend hours in November and December. Admission for college students with their IDs is $9. If you visit, you can even spend the rest of the day in Fairmount Park, having a picnic or exploring the area. Especially with how close it is to our campus, Shofuso is definitely something to add to the bucket list! 

Emma Prushan

Jefferson '25

Emma is a junior at Jefferson studying Visual Communication Design/Graphic Design. She serves as Senior Editor, Events Coordinator, and Graphic Designer of HerCampus Jefferson. In her free time, she enjoys reading, doing crafts, playing the guitar, and taking any opportunities to be creative!