Global Philadelphia Association Member Donates Koi Fish to Shofuso

During the 2018 Sakura Festival, visitors to the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, got to marvel at the beautiful new koi fish that were in the pond surrounding the tea house. Bright orange and red fins splashed in the water as hungry koi begged visitors for food. Long-time breeder of koi fish, Joe Zuritsky, chairman and CEO of Parkway Corporation, generously donated the fish to Shofuso. Zuritsky is also a World Heritage project supporter and Global Philadelphia Association member.

For seventeen years, Zurtisky owned a koi farm in Salem County, New Jersey, where he professionally bred and raised them for international competitions. He is one of the founders of koi culture in the United States and has pioneered this hobby into  establishing the Mid-Atlantic Koi Club in the late 1980’s.

Zuritsky’s knowledge of koi has become so renown that he is also a judge for professional competitions. When judging the quality of a koi, one must take into account the marking, size, and symmetry of the fish, among other traits. 

To show his appreciation for Shofuso, Zuritsky decided to donate 32 of his prize koi fish to the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia. Additionally, in the late fall of 2017, Zuritsky decided to donate his koi farm in New Jersey to Rowan University. 

Some of the koi that Joe Zuritsky donated to Shofuso. Photo courtesy of Kim Andrews.

“They are going to do very well there with all the children who will enjoy feeding the koi,” Zuritsky said. “They can eat all day long.”

Before Shofuso received this donation, the koi that were living in the pond had been provided by people who couldn’t keep them anymore. While they did keep the pond occupied, they didn’t quite meet the standards that the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia was looking for at Shofuso. When Zuritsky offered to make a donation of koi to their cause, they were thrilled to accept his gift.

“This donation, in particular, will elevate our prestige and authenticity back to Japan,” said Kim Andrews, executive director of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia.

Andrews wants to honor this donation from Zuritsky by giving the koi the best environment possible for them to inhabit. The pond next to Shofuso is a natural pond and allows the koi to develop habits that they would in the wild.

The pond is supplied with water from Centennial Lake and constantly provides warm water for the koi even in the winter. This allows the fish to hibernate and through the winter without having the bottom of the pond freeze like with many man-made ponds. When spring comes around the fish make their way to the surface as their metabolism kicks in again and they start getting hungry.

Koi looking for food from passersbys. Photo courtesy of Kim Andrews.


As Shofuso continues to receive various gifts from different aspects of Japanese culture, such as the art installment given by Hiroshi Senju, Andrews hopes that the friendship between Philadelphia and Japan will continue to grow.

“This koi donation, even though it’s from our American benefactor, is one of the most special things about Shofuso and how it’s a physical representation of friendship between Japan and Philadelphia,” Andrews said. “Through Joe’s work in Japan, and the knowledge that he received from his mentor about koi keeping and breeding, we’re once again a beneficiary of that friendship and support from Japan.”

Article written by Erin Yoder on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association