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Happy 2021 - the year of the Ox!

We would like to extend our most sincere thanks to all who made our Membership Drive and Year-end Campaign a great success! 

Kuni's Garden: A Garden for the Ages
1930's Garden Party

Visitors to the Mukai Farm & Garden are struck by the beauty of a Japanese stroll garden that embraces the east edge of the property. Kuni’s garden, Vashon’s only public garden, is testimony to the design vision of family matriarch Kuni Mukai, and the hard work of Vashon volunteers and donors who labored to restore the garden, which fell into disrepair after WWII.   

The juxtaposition of the Mukai home and garden represent two cultures side by side, Japanese and American. In the design of the house, BD Mukai demonstrated his intention to fully embrace his life as an American.  He designed their new house as a typical American bungalow, with a two-car garage, big basement, wide porch, a big front lawn and long, straight sidewalks leading to the front door and surrounding the house. 

Kuni had different ideas.  The daughter of a Japanese landscaper in Yokohama, she wanted her Japanese heritage and traditions to be reflected in her new home. She chose to design a monumental Japanese garden of her own. Ironically, in doing so she broke with Japanese patriarchal traditions to create the only known formal Japanese garden in America designed by an Issei (first-generation Japanese) woman.

The garden she designed in 1925 includes extensive rockery, evergreens and water features. Kuni’s design placed two rocky hills in the garden, surrounded by ponds and waterfalls to replicate a mountainous landscape.  The garden thrived, and soon became a multi-ethnic center of social life on Vashon. Kuni hosted tea parties during cherry blossom time. The Mukai parties included members of the local Japanese community, Caucasian friends, Filipinos, Native Americans, American and foreign dignitaries. The garden was nationally noted; garden parties at the Mukai home were often reported in the national Japanese American press.  In 1933 The Christian Science Monitor gushed, “One is made conscious of the beauty of the rocks. It is almost as though the flowers were there to enhance their grandeur.”

At its height, prior to WWII, the Mukai Farm and Garden spanned 40 acres, purchased in 1926 in the name of 15-year-old Masa Mukai, BD and Kuni’s American-born son. But, by 1993, when the Mukai property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was only 4.5 acres.  The garden and pond were sorely neglected and overgrown.

In 2018 the Friends of Mukai rallied the community and raised funds to restore the property’s ponds, garden, sidewalks and lawns.  They toiled over 18 months with the guidance of a historic landscape architects Karen Keist and Bob Horsley, Mt. Fuji Landscaping and Gardening and old photos of the original garden. Today visitors can experience the tranquility and beauty of a garden that has been restored to reflect Kuni’s original vision.  It has become a garden for the ages.

Kuni's garden today.
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Master Class: The Miracle of Koji, Sake and Sake Kasu
Pre-recorded class: How to Make Your Own Sake 
Live class: Saturday, February 13, 1pm

Most people don’t realize how easy it is to make your own delicious rustic sake at home!
It all starts with koji, which has been called the National Mold of Japan. Koji is the transformative catalyst that is the basis for miso, soy sauce, rice vinegars and sake.  It is the essence of umami
Koji enthusiast Rita Brogan will demonstrate over two sessions:
  1. How to make your own sake with ingredients you can get on-line.  It is advices that the viewer begin making sake by January 26, using our pre-recorded instructions, to give your sake a chance to ferment.  At least 15 days fermentation is ideal, but if that doesn’t work out for you, it’ll still be good.
  2. In a live program on February 13 at (inset time) how to use the sake lees that remains after straining your sake to make a miracle marinade.
Register here by January 23 for the two-part class, and we will send you the ingredient list and zoom link so that you can make your own homemade sake and then, while drinking your marvelous elixir, learn how to make sake kasu to transform meat, fish and vegetables into something truly miraculous.

Master Class: Boro Inspired Mending
Thursday February 25, 9:30am - 12:00pm
Your Instructor: Rob Jones, Romor Designs
Boro Mending (more accurately called ‘boro boro’), means “rags or tatters.”  It is the Japanese art of repairing fabric using scraps and stitching used in Japan during periods of extreme poverty and scarce textiles to prolong the life of clothes and bedding. What was once a source of  shame in Japan is today an art that is highly prized and can fetch significant sums. 
In this class you will learn:
  • The history and origins of boro boro and see examples of vintage Boro collected in Japan by the tutor 
  • How to repair a garment using scraps, both modern and vintage
  • How to use sashiko stitching to enhance your work
  • How to use visible repair to enhance and strengthen textiles using applique and reverse applique techniques 
Once registered, we will send the list of supplies. Rob also offers two kits that you can purchase at his website:
  • A boro boro patches kit (patches, needle and thread) to do mending on clothes BUY HERE
  • A boro boro tote bag kit (tote, patches, needle and thread) ) BUY HERE
Students should allow 2-3 weeks for kits to arrive as post is taking longer than usual to deliver.
Rob Jones created Romor Designs in the autumn of 2015, following a trip to Japan to learn Shibori, Katazome stenciling and indigo dyeing with internationally acclaimed Japanese Textiles artist, Bryan Whitehead. Rob works out of his studio in Hackney, England, exploring Japanese textiles crafts, including shibori resist dyeing, katagami stenciling, sashiko embroidery, kogin counted thread embroidery and boro mending You can see more about Rob at
Board Member Spotlight:  Meg Nelson

Mukai’s Board Secretary, Meg Nelson is a native Seattleite who has happily lived on Vashon Island for the past 5 years. Meg is an archaeologist with research interests in prehistoric hunter-gatherer land use.  She has completed many archaeological surveys, excavations, and studies for areas in the Puget Sound region, Cascade mountains, and eastern Washington, and considers herself lucky to be paid to be outside, at least when the weather is good. Meg is also interested in more recent history, especially in how minority cultural and ethnic communities have retained and adapted their identities within the larger culture.  She is a long-time avid hiker and also enjoys climbing, skiing, bike riding, kayaking and other outdoor activities.

Welcome to our 2021 Business Partners! 
Special thanks to our 2020  Business and Non-Profit Partners. Your support has meant so much!
Copyright © 2021 Mukai Farm & Garden, All rights reserved.

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