King County Landmarks: Mukai Agricultural Complex (1910), Vashon, Vashon Island

  • By Heather MacIntosh
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • Essay 2349
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Address: 18005-18017 107th Avenue SW, Vashon, Vashon Island. The Mukai family played a pioneering role in developing technologies that made it possible to sell strawberries in distant markets. The Mukai home, Japanese garden, and strawberry packing plant stand today as reminders of the family's contributions to the industry. Restoration work is underway on the garden, and the packing plant has been converted to artists' studios and shops.

In 1885, Denichiro (B.D.) Mukai immigrated to San Francisco from Japan. In 1906, he came to Seattle. In 1910, after learning about Vashon strawberries while working at a wholesale business in Seattle, Mukai moved to Vashon Island with his wife Sato Nakanishi to start their own strawberry business. Sales of the perishable berries was limited to local markets. In 1924, the Mukais, joined by their son Masa, set up the first processing plant on the island.

Using an innovative process to prepare the berries for freezing, the Mukais were then able to sell to distant wholesale markets at more competitive prices. Following Sato's death, B. D. married Kuni Mukai, and it was she who designed the garden that surrounds the family house. It combines traditional Japanese gardening principles and plants with Western suburban garden features such as lawns. Her tea parties, held when the cherry blossoms bloomed, were memorable social events in the community.


Sources: King County Landmarks and Heritage Commission.

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