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Celebrating Vashon’s Japanese and agrarian heritage

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Celebrate Mukai --  Open House on October 23, 2016

Open House

Come celebrate Mukai! 

On Sunday, October 23rd — drum roll, please — Friends of Mukai is hosting a community celebration at the Mukai House and Garden, on 107th south of Bank Road, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. From 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. we invite you to tour the historic house and garden. At 3:00, we’ll break out the refreshments, toast our successes, and ceremoniously remove the final part of the fence to open the property to all. You will be reacquainted with Mukai’s fascinating story and preview some of our exciting plans for the future. 

Oh, and we’ll also share some fabulous news!

“October’s event is a community celebration and a giant thank you to all our supporters, strawberry fans, gardeners, farmers, history buffs, preservationists and friends of Mukai, who helped to rescue this beloved King County landmark,” said Friends of Mukai president Lynn Greiner.  “Come celebrate!” 

Since obtaining full legal rights to the property last April, Friends of Mukai has been working to ensure accountability, scheduled access and to develop an action plan for the years ahead.

Accountability: With help from state and county partners, Friends of Mukai has secured partial funding to restore the neglected house — and the organization takes its stewardship role seriously. The 12-member Mukai board has engaged a Vashon-based accounting firm to provide financial oversight. It is also working closely with professional cultural and preservation experts to guide the organization through the complex restoration process, which involves cataloguing Mukai’s historic treasures and complying with rigorous preservation standards.

Access:  With October’s Celebration, Friends of Mukai will open the house on the four-acre property to visitors, and the community will be welcome to stroll through the historic garden.

The board is also finalizing a multi-year action plan aimed at reclaiming, restoring and maintaining the Mukai property. Earlier this year, King County 4 Culture awarded Friends of Mukai a Saving Landmarks grant to upgrade the house’s electrical and plumbing systems, replace windows, and repair the cracked concrete sidewalk, among other projects.

Part of this grant will also be used to map and plan the restoration of Kuni Mukai’s garden, called “historically significant” by local historian Bruce Haulman and Garden Committee chair Cindy Stockett, because it represents a “living synthesis of Japanese and American influences” — and because “it was created by a Japanese woman”— unusual for the times.

The board’s action plan also calls for finishing up work with Artifacts Consulting on a Historic Structures and Landscape Report. The document will become a blueprint for how Friends of Mukai plans to revitalize the site, and will help drive decisions about renovations and about future programming and fundraising needs. The final report is expected by year’s end.

In the meantime, Friends of Mukai is actively recruiting a network of volunteers to help with a variety of tasks including maintenance and preservation needs. If you’d like to volunteer, please email members@friendsofmukai.org.  Or you can call board member Barb Schroeder at 463-3292 for more information.

Once again, please join Friends of Mukai for the Sunday afternoon October 23rd celebration at the Mukai house, 18017 107th Ave SW. Tour the property, raise a glass to all the progress that’s been made and toast the many people who’ve helped the organization get to this point.

Come Celebrate Mukai! If the forecast is rain, don’t forget your umbrellas. This is an outdoor celebration.


An Interview with Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, who was 90 years old in 2015 when this interview took place, is a retired Seattle health care professional and author of the memoir Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (NewSage Press, 2005).

Mary Matsuda was a 17 year old living on her family's strawberry farm on Vashon Island on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The island's Japanese-American leaders were taken away by the FBI and detained in secret. Her family knew the government would come for them next, so they burned all of their Japanese possessions - family photographs, her father's music, treasured books, even her dolls. They did not want to look even faintly sympathetic to Japan, the country responsible for the Pearl Harbor devastation. Five months after the attack, on May 16, 1942, the Matsuda family and the other Japanese-American families on Vashon Island were forced to evacuate Vashon Island, and moved into the "protective custody" of inland internment camps for three years, along with almost 120,000 others of Japanese descent.

This interview captures parts of Mary's stories that are not fully covered in Looking Like the Enemy, and asks specific questions about her experience on Vashon Island and her knowledge of the Japanese-American community on Vashon before and after World War II.
To view the interview Click Here

We want you to join us to make this happen, because This Place Matters!

This Place Matters

Over 250 members of the Friends of Mukai agree that  This Place Matters.

Please join us.



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