The Astounding Architects of Buddhist Wonderment! - Atlas Obscura

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Astounding Architects of Buddhist Wonderment!

Hear about Hell Parks, Buddhist giant statues, roller coasters, and other phantasmagoria of Southeast Asia within Fairmount Park's traditional 17th century-style Japanese house and garden.

Join us for a unique opportunity to delve into the more fantastic and phantasmagoric aspects of Buddhist architecture and spectacle attractions, or misemono, with Dr. Justin McDaniel, Professor of Religious Studies. 

We'll hear about Buddhist Hell parks, giant statues, roller coasters, and other fantastic/fantasy places spread across Japan, Thailand, Burma, Singapore, Vietnam and other regions of Southeast Asia. Dr. McDaniel will supplement the discussion with items from his personal location.

What better location for such an evening than one of Philadelphia's most distinct Japanese spaces designed for leisure, wonderment, and beauty? Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a 17th century style traditional Japanese house and gardens in West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. It stands today as one of the most authentic traditional Japanese structures to exist outside of Japan, with over 30,000 visitors enjoy the site every year.


  • Event is 18+ as it includes some content that could be considered inappropriate for a younger audience. 
  • Please arrive promptly for the start of the event.
  • Attendees are also welcome to arrive before the start of the event for an opportunity to walk the grounds.
  • Guests must remove their shoes before entering Shofuso.


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Advance tickets only. All sales final. No refunds or exchanges.