Success

1926 to 1942

With the purchase of their own farm and the success of cold-process fruit barreling, the Mukai family was able to build a large new fruit barreling plant in 1927 to house their burgeoning business.

In 1928, they built a fine new home, a basic Craftsman bungalow with fashionable Colonial Revival details.  Over the following years, Kuni Mukai surrounded the house with a formal Japanese stroll garden as a way to celebrate her Japanese roots. At the time, the garden was an unusual and significant achievement for a Japanese woman.

Throughout the Depression years, the farm continued to prosper.  Over 400 workers were employed each year to help pack and ship 200 tons of strawberries. The farm featured a bunkhouse that housed 250 of the workers.

In 1934 B.D. retired, he and Kuni divorced, and B.D. returned to Japan. Masa, educated at Washington State University and the University of Washington, took over the business, increasingly focusing more on the freezing process and less on the cultivation of berries.

In 1939, as anti-Japanese sentiment increased, Masa Mukai changed the name of the family business to Vashon Island Packing Company (VIPCo).

During this time period, the family formed deep ties in the community.  They processed berries from a number of island farms.  Socially, the Mukais hosted numerous parties and events for friends and family.  In many ways, they were the epitome of a successful immigrant family.

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