To link to the Interviews click on the video: Mary Matsuda Gruenewald

The “Japanese Presence Project,” developed under the auspices of The Friends of Mukai, is an effort to gather information on the Vashon-Maury Island’s Japanese residents from 1900 through 2010.  It is hoped what is learned can be shared to inform, educate and recognize the valuable contributions and losses of the Island Japanese community.
Information is being gathered around four phases of Japanese presence on the Island

  • 1900-1942: From first appearance through a time when Japanese residents were a vital social and economic part of an ethnically diverse agricultural community.
  • 1942-1945: When Japanese residents were removed from the island, forced to leave behind most of their belongings and property, and imprisoned during World War II in the American concentration camps.
  • 1945-1980s: The post-War era when about one-third of those who were removed, including many decorated Japanese military veterans, returned to the Island to try to pick up their interrupted lives and careers.
  • 1980s-present: The modern period when “new” Japanese residents arrived who have no familial connection to the Japanese who lived on the island before the incarceration but have their own personal or family stories to share of experiences during the War.

The Japanese Presence Project was begun by Dr. Alice Larson and Dr. Bruce Haulman in 2013 and is now guided by an 11 person Advisory Group composed of members who represent historic Vashon Japanese families (some of whom were themselves incarcerated during WWII) and others associated with Island organizations, genealogical research, or are in other ways invested in documenting and recording the story of the Island’s Japanese population.
Through the assistance of King County 4Culture funding, the Japanese Presence Project has been able to increase the information that is known and begin sharing what has been found with a wider audience. 
TO DOWNLOAD THE JAPANESE PRESENCE CENSUS SPREEDSHEET as a Microsoft Excel file click on the icon    excel
This link to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet presents an abbreviated version of detailed decennial Census data concerning the Japanese residents of Vashon-Maury Island.  For each of the Census years for which personal data are available (1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940), individual names, household relationships, age, marital status, occupation, and birthplace are noted as well as indication of residence location on the Island and notes concerning the household configuration.
This transcription has tried to stay as true to the original as possible although difficulty in reading some of the handwriting may have resulted in copying errors.  A “?” has been inserted where the transcriber of these Census Enumeration Records was unable to clearly read what was written and has provided the best interpretation possible.   Additionally, further research concerning these individuals and their presence on Vashon-Maury Island has found the spelling of names or sometimes even the entire name was recorded incorrectly.  This may mean some of what is listed is inaccurate.  At the end of the spreadsheet, a summary and conclusions drawn from these Census data on the Japanese population are offered.

Those involved with the Japanese Presence Project are continuing to research and gather information and stories concerning past and present residents of Vashon-Maury Island.  Future plans include documentation of the experiences of those who were evacuated from the Island during World War II; gathering documents, pictures and stories about these Island residents; conducting oral histories with those involved; and coordinating with other organizations both on Vashon-Maury Island and throughout the country to share what is learned.  Much of this information will be posted on or linked to this website fulfilling the Project goal of being fully accessible to a wide audience.

December 29, 2015