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Celebrating Vashon’s Japanese and agrarian heritage

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Cherry Blossom Time Brings Ruling on Mukai House and Garden

Today, as the Mukai House and Garden cherry trees begin Spring bloom, we are delighted to announce at long last the unanimous and definitive decision by the three-judge State Court of Appeals granting Friends of Mukai full legal rights to the landmark Mukai House and Garden. This long-awaited decision  allows Friends of Mukai  to restore this historic landmark of Vashon’s Japanese and agricultural heritage and make it accessible to the greater community.

We want to thank our Friends of Mukai members, the Vashon community, members of the wider Japanese-American community, and the many supporters who have stood with us during this arduous multi-year legal battle. Among them we recognize our elected officials for their assistance: Vashon’s own State Senator Sharon Nelson, State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and King County Council member Joe McDermott.  In addition, key agencies were most helpful to our work including: 4Culture, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. Our neighbors at Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust and Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association provided much appreciated encouragement and support.

Winning this landmark decision would not have been possible without our stellar legal team of David Brenner and Dan Gunter, of Riddel Williams and Charles Maduell, of Davis Wright Tremaine, who on a pro bono basis served with FoM President Lynn Greiner on this multi-year challenging and unprecedented case. They, and their firms, have donated countless hours of their legal services working with great dedication, skill, and imagination to allow us to prevail against a determined and well-financed opponent.

Now, with the favorable decision by the State Court of Appeals, Friends of Mukai can move forward. Our plans are to:

  • Further secure the site.

  • Re-enlist our community and our many supporters in embracing the future of this historical landmark.  

  • Complete the professional assessment of the site by Artifacts Consulting and begin the work to stabilize and restore the House and Garden.

  • And of course -- hold an open house thank you celebration

Thank you all for your steadfast support, past and future!


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


Tracing the Japanese Presence on Vashon

Tracing the Japanese Presence on Vashon a presentation by Alice Larson and Bruce Haulman This presentation provides an overview of work being done by The Friends of Mukai to recognize and honor the Japanese  Residents of Vashon Island

Japanese Presence

Click on the image to view the full presentation

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The Friends of Mukai is an organization that seeks to restore the Mukai House and Garden, to reunite it with the Mukai Cold Process Fruit Barreling Plant, and to turn them into a place that celebrates their important role in the immigration and agricultural history of Vashon-Maury Island and the Pacific Northwest.

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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