The Mukai Farmstead and Garden was established in 1926, when the Mukai family purchased property just west of the Vashon commercial core to expand their strawberry farming operation. The family built a residence and numerous outbuildings related to their fruit production and processing. They also cultivated fields for berries, grew a small kitchen garden, and established a formal Japanese garden. The Mukai Farmstead and Garden is significant for several reasons: as a unique representation of Japanese American settlement, a successful berry production and processing facility in the Puget Sound, and a rare example of a female-designed Japanese formal garden.
Established in 1926, the Mukai Farmstead and Garden contains the residence and gardens of the Mukai family as well as the business office and fruit processing plant for the family’s agricultural operation, the Vashon Island Packing Company (VIPCo). Located on Vashon Island, just west of the Vashon commercial core.
Japanese immigrants arrived to the United States in increasing numbers throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, searching for their own economic opportunities while meeting the growing demand for cheap labor in the West. Prior to settling at this property, the Mukai family lived elsewhere on Vashon Island, relocating there from Seattle to pursue strawberry farming. At first, Denichiro (B. D.) Mukai worked for other growers, later leasing land across the road from the Mukai Farmstead and Garden. When his son Masahiro (Masa) was 16 years old, the family bought the land in his name, because of restrictions on land ownership by Japanese-born residents. Born on Vashon Island in 1911, Masa was a U. S. citizen. The family established the Mukai Cold Process Fruit Barreling Plant in 1926, which, surrounded by berry fields, served as the heart of their strawberry packing operation. Established in 1926, the Mukai Cold Process Fruit Barreling Plant served as the heart of the strawberry packing operation, with berry fields surrounding. Later renamed the Vashon Island Packing Company (VIPCo), the business added the small office building in 1946, after Masahiro had inherited the business. His father, B. D. Mukai, designed the house in the late 1920s while his second wife, Kuni, designed the formal gardens.