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2020 is almost done!

As 2020 comes to an end Mukai Farm and Garden asks that you consider a contribution as part of your year-end giving.  We need your help to keep this historic island treasure moving and thriving into the future.  

The Mukai Farm & Garden needs $100,000 to maintain its operations and programing for 2021.

This year the Friends of Mukai Board has established a matching fund of $25,000 to compound the impact of individual donations.   

If you have already received a fundraising appeal from Mukai, consider this a gentle reminder to consider a gift to sustain Mukai’s vibrant cultural programming and beautiful gardens.  And don’t forget that we are beginning the restoration of Mukai’s historic Fruit Barreling Plant, which will ultimately be a revenue producing asset, as well as space for community gathering, performances and exhibition space!

Mukai is truly how history lives.  Help be a part of it!

Donate Now
Coming home...
A last photo of the Sakai kids at home on May 16, 1942.
On May 16, 1942, the Sakai family packed their suitcases and assembled at Ober Park with the 111 other Japanese Americans to be herded onto Army trucks and onto a ferry that would take them away.  “We did not know where they were taking us,” said eldest sister Tillie Katsura.  She was 17 at the time and is now 95 years old. “Our friends came to see us off.  It was so sad.”  Her sister Metcko “Mets” Nakamoto agreed, “As the ferry sailed away, we saw our friends who came to say goodbye get smaller and smaller until we couldn’t see them anymore.” 
Barbara Steen was one of Sumi’s dear friends who went to the Heights Ferry Dock on May 16 to bid farewell to her childhood friend, as she boarded the ferry into exile. Sumi and Barbara wrote to each other throughout the entire war. Sumi’s brother, Harry Sakai, sent Barbara a carving he did while at Tule Lake--an example of what became known as Gaman Art—art produced at concentration camps. The Japanese word gaman means "enduring what seems unbearable with dignity and grace."“I don’t know how we managed it.  There were six children.  Freddy was 9 and Bobby was 6. How could we even carry two suitcases each?  Maybe the soldiers helped us.” said Tillie.  “I don’t even remember what I packed in mine.”  Mets added, “I only got one suitcase.  We couldn’t bring any materials for reading or writing, just the essentials.”
After two days in dark, sweltering rail cars, with several layers of clothing, the Sakai family arrived at 8 in the morning at the Pine Lake “Assembly Center,” near Fresno California.  “I will never forget our first meal,” said Tillie.  “It was chili con carne, spinach and sand. There was sand everywhere. It got into everything.  It was terrible.”  
Islander Barbara Steen shows the pin carved by Harry at Tule Lake
Seventy-four years later, last fall, Met’s daughters Karen Sundquist and Janie Nakamoto visited Seattle for a conference and decided to take the ferry to Vashon Island, where they knew their family once lived.  
“I was sitting in the back seat of the car and they gave me a magazine to look at to figure out what to do on Vashon.  And I said to them, ‘Say there’s this place called the Mukai House. Let’s check it out.’  We went there and there was an exhibit on the history of Japanese on Vashon. The first thing I saw was the luggage tag with my Aunt Sumi’s name on it and I shrieked,” said Karen.  “Then I saw the picture of a quote by Auntie Sumi that read, ‘Why did we have to move?  We were American citizens.”
The sisters took photos of Mukai and other places on Vashon, including Glen Acres, where the family once farmed berries, and shared them with their mother, Mets, and Aunts Tillie and Sumi.  “We were making plans to all return to Vashon this spring, but then COVID hit.” The experience inspired Karen to do more thinking about her family history.  When her church launched its own “TED Talk” series, Karen decided to focus on story of the Sakai family.  “When I mentioned to my mom that I was doing the Ted Talk, my mom told me that Sumi still had her old suitcase, gathering dust in the garage.  I asked if I could use it for my talk and thought that the Mukai house could really use it afterwards.” 
Detail of Sumi Sakai's suitcase.
After two months, the Sakai family and the rest of Vashon’s Japanese Americans were relocated to the Tule Lake concentration camp in Northern California. After being released from Tule Lake in 1945, Tillie and Sumi went to find domestic work in Oakland. The rest of the family moved several places before settling in the Morgan Hill area near San Jose, where they grew strawberries as sharecroppers.  Mets said, “Mr. Ned Driscoll helped a lot of Japanese get back on their feet by giving them jobs.”  Tillie added, “Our parents could not speak English well, so my oldest brother Harry, was more like the head of the family. He was the one who decided that we would move to California and work for the Driscolls.  Eventually he and his wife bought a small farm and raised strawberries.”  
Seventy-five years after the closure of the concentration camps and the end of WWII, Sumi Sakai’s suitcase has returned to Vashon The remains of the tag that identified the suitcase as belonging to Sumi, it still tied to its handle. It sits on display, open and empty on a bed at the Mukai Farm & Garden filled with invisible, but vivid memories.  

Tillie said, “Even in those days, Vashon was one of the best places in the world.  When I had my children I often wished that I could take them there, just to climb the trees explore the forest.  And the people were the best.  I had some wonderful friends. My closest friends were Amy Yee and Beverly 
White Cullen.  I lost touch with Beverly over the years. I wonder how she is.”  She added, “In those days, we didn’t have much in the way of finances. We worked hard and we played hard. We made our own toys. Once we tipped over a wagon wheel and made a merry-go-round by tying chairs to it.  And we climbed trees.  I will never forget the wonderful fresh fruit.”
Mets recalls friends like Pamela Long, Vivian James, Phyllis Miller, Kenneth Johnson.  “I remember Mr. Kimmel, the grocer and Mr. Prig who owned the ice cream shop.  We used to always go there after Sunday school and say, ‘We only have 5 cents.  Can you please make this into two cones?’” 
After the Covid restrictions are lifted, members of the public will have a chance to see Sumi’s old suitcase in the Mukai house, and we hope at that time to also be able to welcome the Sakai sisters back home to share their many happy memories of a wonderful childhood on Vashon Island.
Sumi's suitcase at home at Mukai Farm & Garden.
Winter Warmers: Hot libations for Cozy Social Distancing
Monday, November 30th ~ 12:00pm, $25pp
A Conversation with Fred Harriman and author Karen Hill Anton
January 13, 2021 - 5:30 PM    
$5 registration fee
Karen Hill Anton’s recently published memoir, The View from Breast Pocket Mountain, tells of the life and travels of an African-American woman who begins her life in the turbulent 50’s and 60’s in New York City, traveling through Europe, Middle East and Asia to Hamamatsu, Japan. Through an amazing combination of daring and coincidence, her life becomes an epic journey: raised by a single father, studying Modern Dance with Martha Graham, hanging out in Washington Square as the Beat Generation turned into the Hippie movement, working on small farms in Europe, cooking in a Danish boarding school, crossing the Khyber Pass in a crowded bus with a small child.  Karen describes her struggles restoring an ancient home in foothills of the “Southern Alps” of Japan, and transforming her periodic despair and isolation by ultimately immersing herself in the daily life of Hamamatsu: teaching modern dance to shy Japanese ladies, becoming a newspaper columnist and later on becoming a consultant to the corporate elite in Tokyo. Karen lives with her husband Billy. She will be interviewed by her longtime friend and Mukai Board Member Fred Harriman, who says, “Karen serves as a model for adventure, intellectual curiosity, friendship, true love, and motherhood.”
Buy the book and attend the interview!
Kimchi 101
Saturday January 23, 2021 1PM
$60 Workshop fee
Optional $10 kit with all of the ingredients you need to make your own kimchee at home
Teacher: Suni Kim

 Kimchi is a humble, but complex staple dish of Korea. It packs a punch! Traditionally made from seasoned and fermented cabbage, its origins date back to the first century B.C., as a type of pickling process designed to preserve and extend the lifespan of vegetables.
On January 23, at 1 PM, Vashon’s own Suni Kim will be conducting a Kimchi 101 Mukai Master Class workshop. This class will explore the history of kimchi, and demonstrate how to make a basic kimchi with readily available ingredients and precise measurements that you can make in your own kitchen. At the end of this class, you will have the basics of kimchi-making and a jar of your own homemade kimchi!
Suni Kim is a South Korean native who studied food engineering at Chungnam National University in Daejeon, South Korea. A longtime islander, she co-owned Island Spring Tofu, and ran a thriving catering business for 15 years. She is now retired. 

Board Member Spotlight:  Michael J. Kleer

Whether working on a video script on the design and history of Kuni’s Garden, or developing grant applications for the continued restoration of the Mukai Farm and Gardens, Michael Kleer is one of the go-to members of the Friends of Mukai Board of Directors.  With 30 years of experience in landscape architecture and years of practical, non-profit board experience, Michael adds energy and insight to many aspects of Mukai’s mission.  In addition to his skills as a landscape architect, Michael is an ESL certified instructor and founder of Care to Help: Thailand, which raises funds to help a small group of isolated villages in Northern Thailand.  He is also president of the Luana Water Association and a former board member of the Pride Foundation.  Mike says, “I am thrilled to be working with such a dedicated, and welcoming, group of board members, community volunteers and staff. And I’m honored to be able to help further build on all that’s already been accomplished by Friends of Mukai.”

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

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