SHOFUSO JAPANESE TEA HOUSE
Lansdowne and Horticultural Drives
West Fairmount Park
Philadelphia, PA, 19131
In West Philly nestled in between the Please Touch Museum and West River Drive is the Shofuso Japanese Tea House. 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 1958, to the site of several previous Japanese structures and a continuously maintained Japanese garden dating to the 1876 Centennial Exposition. For more history click here.
The highlight of the trip for the boys was feeding the giant koi fish. At the admissions desk you can buy fish food for $2.00 a cup and it is worth it. It was really cool to see the giant, neon, spotted koi race over from all parts of the pond as soon as the boys started throwing the fish food in. Since they advise you to throw one pellet at a time it actually takes up a good amount of time.
The only issue is being at the edge of the pond. Where you feed the fish is a tiny slope, a stone ledge and then it drops off into the water. There is no fence or anything to keep your little one out of the pond. Henry (3) did great. Ollie (20 mos) was a little more challenging. It is not a deal breaker but depending on your child you need to be on you’re A-game.
Next we toured the house. Shoes off in the house so come prepared with socks or they have peds. This was Henry’s first time wearing peds and I can’t say he loved it. The house is beautiful, minmalistic but will only take maybe 10 minutes to walk through.
There are volunteers available to tell you all about the house but it was impossible to listen to all the detailed history and watch the boys. The reason being…that the house has a deck around 2/3 of it that does not have a railing and just drops down to the garden. Again Henry (3) not a problem but Ollie (20 mos) made me nervous. If you have an adventurous climber I think you are going to spend more time reprimanding then enjoying.
In the back of the house there is an adorable little rain garden that was beautiful and the boys actually really loved looking at. The boys were busy enough that I was actually able to listen to what our guide was saying for a few minutes. All the while we were totally disrupting a private tea ceremony that a couple (probably in love) had booked.
Should you go? Yes, I recommend that you think about visiting the Tea House if you have 30 minutes to fill or it would be great to add on to your Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia Zoo or Smith House trip because the Japanese Tea house is located right in the “West Philly Kid Trifecta.” Kids under 3 are free and I was $6.00. So with our 2 $2.00 cups of fish food and free parking our trip was a total of $10. To me that was worth the trip. I would bring the boys back in the fall to feed the fish but to extend our trip I would pack a picnic lunch and some outside toys because there is a great little park right outside the Tea House. The Tea House is a mildly dangerous beauty that is worth a quick trip.
I also really loved the pictures that I was able to take of the boys with the Tea House grounds as the background. This would be a really beautiful place to bring a photographer for your little ones yearly photo shoot.