By Bruce Haulman and Terry Donnelly
For The Beachcomber
For the past two years, the Japanese American Community on Vashon has offered a Vashon Japan Festival at the Mukai House and Garden.
The festival was inspired by the 2018 exhibit “Joy and Heartache: Japanese Americans on Vashon” at the Vashon Heritage Museum and hosted by the Friends of Mukai. Celebrating all things Japanese, the festival has fostered an awareness and appreciation of Japanese Americans on the island.
This year’s festival attracted close to 1,800 visitors and included Taiko drumming, a community Bon Odori dance, mochi making, a children’s village, a sake, perry, and Japanese beer garden, a collection of domestic Japanese vehicles, Japanese inspired arts, a Bonsai demonstration, and an Ikebana display. The Festival culminated with an evening lantern walk with lanterns floated on the newly restored Mukai Garden Pond.
The festival also included tsuru (crane) folding in support of Tsuru for Solidarity which reflects the experience of the World War II Japanese American exile and imprisonment through the phrase “Never Again is Now” in response to the current mass incarceration of immigrants. The dancers in the Jim Diers photograph are from Seattle’s Mary Ohno and Kabuik Academy.
The 2019 Vashon Japan Festival recreated, 81 years later, what the vibrant Japanese Community on Vashon had done in 1938 when the island Japanese Mother’s Club hosted a celebration of Japanese culture at the Island Club (now Ober Park) for island friends and teachers. Mrs. Fyro Nishiyori welcomed everyone in Japanese and was translated by her son Yukichi Nishiyori.