In June 1954, an article published in House & Home magazine read, “The Japanese had some of our best ideas—300 years ago.” The piece highlighted three main attributes of Kyoto’s Katsura Imperial Villa, built in the 1620s: the open post-and-beam plan, the use of verandas for climate control, and its modularity based on tatami mats and shoji screens. The article coincided with the opening of the Japanese Exhibition House at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. On the recommendation of architect Antonin Raymond, the artist Isamu Noguchi, and others, the museum’s architecture and design curator, Arthur Drexler, commissioned Japanese architect Junzō Yoshimura to design the house as part of the museum’s House in the Garden series. Yoshimura was inspired by a 17th-century temple home near Kyoto named Kojo-in. He designed and built the house in Nagoya and then shipped it in 636 crates, to be installed in the museum’s garden, where it received thousands of visitors daily over a period of ten months. Shofuso (Pine Breeze Villa), as Yoshimura named it, was subsequently moved in 1958 to West Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, where it remains today.
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