On May 16, 1942, armed guards herded 111 Vashon residents onto trucks at Ober Park to be sent to detention camps in Pinedale, California. Their crime was to be of Japanese descent during WWII.
For their “crime” Vashon’s Japanese Americans spent their next four years being shunted between various incarceration camps in remote and desolate locations, some families moving up to five times. Only 30% of those who were imprisoned returned to Vashon Island.
- For Ujiro, Fuyo, and son Yukichi Nishiyori it meant leaving the chicken ranch they started on Bank Road in 1907 in the hands of their neighbors the Thurston’s who acted as caretakers during the Nishiyori’s imprisonment.
- For Jazu, Katsu and son Sam Sakamoto, it meant leaving their leased berry farm forever. They did not return to Vashon Island after the war.
- For high school seniors such as 1942 Valedictorian Daigo Togami it meant not being able to graduate from Vashon High School with his class. And not giving his Valedictorian Address.
- For sixteen young women and men, it meant leaving their incarceration to serve in the 442nd RCT, the Nurse Corps, and military intelligence.
- For Taichi and Nami Miyoshi and their sons Glenn and Masa who fought in the 442nd RCT, it meant that their home and all their belongings would be burned by anti-Japanese arsonists in an attempt to prevent the Japanese Americans from returning to the Island.
This May 16, 2021, Friends of Mukai will commemorate the Day of Exile at 1:00 pm with an event at Mukai Farm & Garden at 18017 107th SE. The Vashon-Maury History Museum is a co-sponsor of this event. The public invited to participate in this socially distanced event, at no cost, either in person or on-line at: https://www.facebook.com/mukaifarmandgarden
The event will include the ringing of a temple bell for each of the families whose lives were abruptly interrupted, with two days’ notice on that date, followed by a prayer by Abbott Koshin Cain of the Puget Sound Zen Center, poetry by Seattle poet Larry Matsuda, and music. The entire public is welcome, but to assist with planning, please register for the event at https://forms.gle/P92Nkt1zLHV2CP7D9. Those who cannot attend may see the ceremony on Mukai’s Facebook live page.