Vashon Japan Festival 2021

Japanese immigration experience brought to life at Mukai

Celebrate heritage and history by walking through Mukai Farm & Garden’s new self-guided Labyrinth tour, “Immigration to America: The Japanese Journey,” which will be held this year in conjunction with the annual Vashon Japan Festival, held virtually again this year due to the ongoing threat posed by the COVID-19 Delta variant. The tour, which opens on Sept. 10 at the Mukai Farm & Garden, 18017 107th Ave SW, Vashon, runs from dawn to dusk and will explore the national and local history of Japanese immigration to America, with pauses at information stations so attendees can learn about this important history. Stay tuned for other activities, such as courses and lectures, which will take place during the month long festival. More information is available at mukaifarmandgarden.org.

The Labyrinth walk’s theme is derived from a word in the Japanese language: konjo, which means “grit” or “determination.” A person with konjo is unfazed by setbacks or difficulties, and persists, as demonstrated by those who immigrated to America from Japan against many odds, as well as by the community’s determination to stay safe from COVID-19 today. 

Early attempts by Japanese immigrants to leave Japan and seek a better life overseas were met with punishment and condemnation. Even after treaties and legal institutions made immigration possible, Japanese immigrants faced bureaucratic hurdles and opposition both upon leaving Japan and later entering North America. Japanese immigrants had to confront legal obstacles and discrimination once they arrived. Despite this, they persevered, prospered, formed connections, and earned respect and a permanent place in North American history, society, and government by drawing on their konjo. The konjo exhibited by Japanese Americans can serve to benefit and inspire all Americans.

Visitors to the property can also stroll through Kuni Mukai’s wonderfully restored Japanese pond and gardens. The Mukai Farm & Garden is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the few remaining examples of a prewar Japanese homestead. B.D Mukai, a successful Japanese immigrant and entrepreneur, and his wife Kuni welcomed the public to their Japanese stroll garden and Craftsman home during its heyday. Their house, garden, and barreling plant are all symbols of the island’s mingled cultures and history. The restoration of the barreling plant is the next phase in a community-led effort to preserve the Mukai family’s legacy and lasting contributions to Vashon Island’s culture and heritage.

Mukai Farm & Garden is being restored and managed by the Friends of Mukai to honor Vashon’s Japanese American and agricultural heritage. Mukai demonstrates how history is alive and relevant in our lives today.

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