On May 16, 1942, with two days’ notice, armed guards herded 111 Vashon residents onto trucks at the island’s downtown Ober Park to be sent to detention camps in Pinedale, California. Their crime was to be of Japanese descent during WWII.
May 16, 2021 the Friends of Mukai will commemorate that Day of Exile at 1:00 p.m. with an event at Mukai Farm & Garden at 18017 107th SE, Vashon Island. The Vashon-Maury History Museum is co-sponsoring the event. The public invited to participate in this socially distanced event, at no cost, in person or on-line at https://bit.ly/3dtXxe9.
For their crime, Vashon’s Japanese Americans spent the next four years shunted between different internment camps in remote and desolate locations. Some families moving up to five times, breaking community connections. Only 30 percent of those who were imprisoned returned to Vashon Island.
Some of their experiences:
• Ujiro, Fuyo, and son Yukichi Nishiyori left behind the chicken ranch they started on Bank Road in 1907 in the hands of their neighbors. Those neighbors, the Thurston’s, acted as caretakers during the Nishiyori’s imprisonment.
• Jazu, Katsu and son Sam Sakamoto, never came back to their leased berry farm. They did not return to Vashon Island after the war.
• High school senior and 1942 Valedictorian Daigo Togami was not being able to graduate from Vashon High School with his class. He never gave his Valedictorian address.
• Sixteen young women and men left families that were incarcerated to serve in the Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), the Nurse Corps, and military intelligence.
• Taichi and Nami Miyoshi and their sons Glenn and Masa, who fought in the 442nd RCT, lost their home and belongings in a fire set by anti-Japanese arsonists to prevent Japanese Americans from returning to the island.
The event will feature the ringing of a temple bell for each family whose lives were abruptly interrupted and forever changed on that date. Abbott Koshin Cain of the Puget Sound Zen Center will offer a prayer, Seattle poet Larry Matsuda will do a reading, with music and reflection. The public is welcome, but to assist with planning, register at https://bit.ly/3dtXxe9. Those who cannot attend may watch the ceremony live on Mukai Farm & Garden’s Facebook page.
Mukai Farm & Garden is being restored and managed by the Friends of Mukai to celebrate Vashon’s Japanese American and agricultural heritage, and the greater Asian American Pacific Islander communities. Mukai shows how history lives and is relevant to our lives today.
Day of Exile event registration link https://bit.ly/3dtXxe9
Mukai Farm & Garden mukaifarmandgarden.org