In 1906, 19-year-old George Morikami immigrated to the United States after being recruited (along with many other Japanese farmers) to join the Yamato Colony located in what is now Boca Raton, Florida.
The purpose behind establishing the Yamato Colony was to form a community of Japanese farmers, mostly from Miyazu, Japan, who would cultivate pineapples in South Florida. However, due to pineapple blight in 1908 and increased competition from cheaper pineapples from Cuba, the Yamato Colony was not a success. After only a few years many of the colony’s farmers left Yamato and relocated to other parts of the United States, while some even returned back to Japan.
Subsequently, as the United States entered World War II, what remained of Yamato Colony was claimed by the U.S. Government, and used to create an Army Air Corps training base. In spite of all of this George Morikami stayed the area, moving to the neighboring city of Delray Beach, and by the end of the war he had purchased a farm.
After farming in South Florida for more than 65 years, George Morikami donated his 200 acres of farmland to Palm Beach County in 1973. Three years later he passed away at age 89. His ashes were returned to Miyazu, and in his honor Delray Beach, FL is now a sister city to Miyazu, Japan.
Today, The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens are open to visitors, and with its brilliantly manicured gardens, fascinating wildlife, appetizing cafe, and informative exhibits, truly provides guests with an oasis for the mind, body, and stomach.
Know Before You Go
There are numerous signs to the site from Jog Road. There is ample parking, some of it in shade. There is an admission fee, with discounts for seniors and for active and former military. Plan a good two hours to fully enjoy the site.