2nd Annual Japan Festival

P/C Jim Diers

The 2nd annual Japan Festival, a celebration of Japanese culture, was held on Saturday, September 14th at the Mukai Farm & Garden on Vashon. Kuni Mukai’s Japanese Garden, recently restored was a beautiful backdrop to the Festival; the plants are all filling in and the pond and its waterfall are gently bubbling. In the spirit of Kuni, who opened her garden to visitors, the Friends of Mukai invited the Vashon community, Japanese Americans and visitors from around the region to celebrate Japanese culture this Festival.

And they came.“Visitors this year doubled,” said Tina Shattuck, event organizer, with over 1800 visitors attending. “We had a great response from the community.”

P/C Kent Phelan

That included many volunteers from Asians at Amazon to help. Some Vashon islanders were discovering the Mukai Farm & Garden for the first time, along with Japanese Americans from around the Sound. Other volunteers and visitors staffing booths were the Nisei Veterans, Vashon High School students, and representatives from the Washington Heritage Register and Matsuda Farm. Display of the Japanese domestic market vehicles also attracted many visitors.

P/C Jim Diers

The entertainment included dancers with Mary Ohno & Seattle Kabuki Academy, who themselves were from Japan, Russia and Silverdale, were happy to share their love of Japanese culture and their training in classical dance. For some visitors this was their first experience of Taiko drumming by Seattle Kokon Taiko and by CHIKIRI & The School of Taiko, powerful drumming that can be felt as well as heard.

P/C Jim Diers

Leah Mann led the crowd in popular group dances (bon odori) and offered a special performance together with her partner Ela Lamblin, of Lelavision. Kids and adults joined in on mochi pounding (a sticky, pounded rice cake making) with humorous instruction from Shoichi Sugiyama, mochi master.

P/C Jim Diers

The children’s village was busy with activities: boat making, various crafts, lessons in drumming, dancing, and sampling traditional Japanese games. And Lori Tsugawa Whaley shared old stories and fairy tales.


Hungry visitors tried Japanese style hot dogs with shredded seaweed or dash of dried fish flakes with wasabi mustard. May’s Kitchen offered tasty noodles and satay. Thanks to Patty’s Place, Minglement and Vashon Island Baking Company for helping our food booth. Beverages at the Spirit Garden included sake and a special festival offering.

Others were fascinated by the Bonsai demonstrations by Anthony Fajallio and the beautiful Ikebana flower arrangements using local plants and flowers by Yoshiko Nakamura.

P/C Jim Diers

The emcee of the festival stage was Vashon poet and musician, Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma, who also shared his poetry in the opening welcome. Some folded cranes to support Tsuru for Solidarity action. Mariela Franco, from Vashon Youth and Family Services, shared ways that attendees could help Vashon’s refugee and immigrants and Latinx community. A simple way is to support Vashon Youth and Family Services in working with those communities. Special thanks to Bruce Haulman and the Vashon Heritage Museum for helping with our remembrance display.

The best part of the festival: visiting with descendants of the Mukai family, who were happy to see the farm come back to life, with children running through the yard and Kuni’s garden filled with visitors.

Akio Ueno played the shakuhachi, a classic bamboo flute, during the closing lantern walk at dusk. The haunting sound of the flute led the many who carried lanterns back to the pond, where some of the lanterns were set to float in the darkness in remembrance of loved ones, a tradition that is hundreds of years old.

If you would like to volunteer for next year’s Japan Festival, we welcome you on the planning committees, or day of volunteering. Please email us at info@mukaifarmandgarden.org and let us know how you would like to help.

Thank you to all the sponsors!

Thank you to King County TV videographers for staying all day to enjoy and film the festival. We will share the video that will be featured on King County TV – look for it later this year.

And a big, big thank you to the Friends of Mukai volunteer crew – many great folks with lots of energy and commitment. You rock The Rock in helping share your passion for this place that matters.


Special thanks to Kent Phelan, Jim Diers, Wade Yip and the other community members for amazing photographs. Please enjoy our 2nd Japan Festival Photo Gallery below!