Recent Vandalism at Shofuso – JASGP

By Chloe Hunt

Managed by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, the historic Shofuso House and Garden is a 17th century-style architecture that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia. However, nearly a month ago, this Philadelphia treasure was vandalized.

On Wednesday, June 15, Shofuso was broken into. The culprits, who have yet to be caught, severely damaged the Hiroshi Senju murals inside the House as well as the exterior. The murals, valued at $2 million, were “punctured,” obscuring the artist’s 20 murals that depict waterfalls on mulberry paper.

After the vandalism, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney put out a statement, shaming those responsible.

“We’re going to do our best to bring these idiots to justice,” Kenney said, “and I apologize to the Japanese people and the Japanese government for this happening in Philadelphia.”

Shofuso is home to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, special Japanese exhibits, and a vast botanical garden, this non-profit historical site serves as a manifestation of peace between two nations as well as a spot for public enjoyment. Located in West Fairmount Park, Shofuso welcomes nearly 30,000 visitors every year.

Shofuso’s inception was marked by a budding friendship between the U.S. and Japan–it was built in the early 1950s and designated as a gift to the U.S. from Japan as a marker of post-war peace. The Japanese House originally resided in New York City, at the Museum of Modern Art. Two years later, the House was relocated to Philadelphia, where it remains to this day.

Thankfully, artist Senju offered to do his part to restore the murals to their original beauty. However, other damages will take time and monetary donations to repair.

If you would like to support Shofuso’s restoration after this recent act of vandalism, check out this link. Mural artist and visionary Senju shared his perspective on the recent events.

“Art is created to appeal to our common humanity, which transcends all race and ideology… The work I created for Shofuso House belongs to the people of Philadelphia. I hope they will continue to cherish it.”