In 1907, prior to Tukwila’s incorporation, the T.S. Unos family arrived from Japan. On the south side of Tukwila Hill, Michio and Hisako Kato, also Japanese immigrants, raised poultry and sold eggs in Seattle. The Hanadas and Nobuyamas were also in the valley.
This writer has memories in the 1980’s of vegetables growing near the Southcenter development. The planting area was between stores and the Interstate 5 freeway. The Mikami family came to the Duwamish Valley in the 1920’s where Matsusuke and Tamayo operated a dairy until a federal law made it illegal for them to lease property. They purchased additional land in the Southcenter district and raised eight children. The Mikamis were sent to an internment camp during World War II. Three of their sons served in the Armed Forces and one daughter volunteered for the Women’s Army Corps in military intelligence. Many Japanese-American families were sent to Tule Lake Camp, California for three years.
Most of the families returned and found their property protected by their neighbors. Some had nothing left when they returned and worked hard to rebuild.
In 1979, the city of Tukwila established a Sister City affiliation with Ikawa-cho, Japan which focused on international peace. In 1984, a Sister City Committee was formed and in March of 2006, Ikawa merged with five other cities. Because of former alliance with Ikawa-cho, the Sister City program was continued with the city of Miyoshi.
The Tukwila Historical Society was honored by a request from the city of Tukwila and the Sister Cities Committee to display many of the gifts received from the officials and visitors of Japan. An exhibit has been created at the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center, 14475 59th Ave S.
For personal tours of the exhibit and the Tukwila Heritage and Cultural Center, please leave a message at 206-244-4478 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.