Philadelphia has so many hidden gems that the average local may never see. This weekend, my mom and I ventured to Fairmount Park to visit the Shofuso House, or as it’s simply called, the Japanese House. I didn’t know until recently that this existed. The house and gardens are a great reprieve from that Center City traffic we all love (eye roll). The tranquil koi pond takes you even further away.
After strolling around the grounds, listening to my mom complaining because I didn’t tell her not to wear heels (too many rocks), we were ushered into a seat on the floor for a traditional tea ceremony. Women in kimonos demonstrated and told us the history. For instance, tea ceremonies weren’t ever regular occurrences, but held for special occasions. Oftentimes they are planned out months in advance with guests traveling great distances to attend.
Though ceremonies started out as a way for high society to boast its wealth with its expensive dishes, they later became a source of local pride. The tools needed for a ceremony began to be locally sourced.
Despite sitting and gleaning an hour’s worth of information, my mom and I are not tea experts. As our guide explained, it takes two to three months for someone to grasp a tea ceremony, but years of study to master it. Learning how to write calligraphy and make ceramics are a big part of the ceremony, as well. There are so many steps to be remembered, who drinks when. When to move. Who interacts with the host. Which guest is most important.
Even though we couldn’t keep up, we enjoyed our visit, and we left enlightened and with more respect for Japanese history. We’re so inspired that we plan to visit our elderly Japanese aunt and serve her hot matcha and a traditional dessert.
If you live near Philly or are just visiting, definitely add the Shofuso House to your list to give yourself a break from the urban hustle and bustle. With those peaceful gardens, you’ll forget you feel guilty for indulging in a Geno’s cheesesteak on the way.
Interested in checking out the Shofuso House?
Monday through Wednesday, 10-4.
Saturday & Sunday, 11-5
Interested in our looks?
Floral Japanese silk skirt, bought in Korea. Similar: Asos.com
Mom’s dress and Vince Camuto sandals both from Ross! Nordstrom has a quite a few similar
Vince Camuto purse: Nordstrom.com