The Japanese Gulch is located in Mukilteo, Washington and is a series of heavily wooded parks totaling 98 acres. The park has miles of trails for walking, running, or biking. If you bring your dog, make sure you keep it on a leash. While visiting we spotted a coyote on the trail. The Mukilteo Community Garden is located at the 76th St. trailhead. Visit the nonprofit Japanese Gulch Group for a trail map.
The Tails to Trails Dog Park, located at the North end of this portion of the Gulch. The dog park has playground equipment designed just for dogs. They have two fenced off dog play areas. The bigger one has lots of room to roam and good climbing and play items for your furry friend. The smaller area is set aside for shy dogs. It’s a bit muddy this time of year, but still manageable.
Check out the exciting future plans for the Japanese Gulch. This will be a park to watch as it develops.
Japanese Gulch’s History
While researching and writing about the Nakashima Barn, I became curious about the the much untold Japanese-American history in our community. This led me to the Japanese Gulch, in Mukilteo it is an expansive series of parks established in 2014. The Gulch was named after it’s early Japanese settlers.
What brought Japanese Americans to Mukilteo? The Mukilteo Lumber Company later known as Crowne Lumber opened in 1903 attracting strong young men as labor. In Japan family wealth was passed on to the oldest son, leaving the younger sons to forge their own path in life. Many of these younger sons traveled to the United States in hopes of a brighter future in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In 1905 Mukilteo’s population consisted of 200 Caucasian and 150 Japanese. The community in Mukilteo became more integrated than most places in the United States. Japanese were allowed to attend school and if you visit the historical Mukilteo Pioneer cemetery you will see several Japanese buried in the town cemetery. They are buried adjacent to Mukilteo’s founding family, the Fowlers. Despite advancements and integration in this community there were still injustices and racism. Japanese Americans were not allowed to own property in the town, instead they lived in the “Gulch.” It served as the Japanese portion of the mill town.
The Mukilteo Pioneer Cemetery is located at 513 Webster Street. The cemetery is gorgeous and has incredible views. The site looks out over the scenic waters of the Puget Sound towards Whidbey Island. It’s not uncommon to see majestic bald eagles soaring over the waters. Follow the link to Mukilteo Pioneer Cemetery to learn the stories of the pioneers that are buried here.
The Japanese community built a sports fields, community center, park and store. It was more than just single men that came to work, many of the men had worked to bring their families to the United States. I strongly recommend that you click on the map below that will take you to the accompanying essay by Mas Odoi, a Japanese American, U.S. internment camp survivor, and WWII War Hero born in the Japanese Gulch. His story is phenomenal and worth the read.
Where did this population of Japanese American’s go? Turns out their are two answers to this question. At first the depression closed the mill in 1930 and that caused many workers to leave in search of work. Then came the Japanese internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Out of misguided fear the U.S. government sent all Japanese Americans to concentration camps. Many lost everything that they had worked all there lives for and few returned to Mukilteo.
The park is named after this large population of Japanese Americans that contributed so greatly to that help build the community of Mukilteo.