Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens celebrates a more than century-old connection between Japan and South Florida. In the early 1900s, a group of young Japanese farmers arrived in what is now northern Boca Raton and formed an agricultural colony they called Yamato, an ancient name for Japan. The colony’s farming endeavors were ultimately unsustainable, however, and almost all members of the original colony returned to Japan. In the mid 1970s, one of the last remaining settlers, George Sukeji Morikami, then in his 80s, donated his land to Palm Beach County with the wish for it to become a park to preserve the memory of the Yamato Colony.
Together with his friends, neighbors and the Palm Beach County Department of Parks and Recreation, George’s simple dream took on a new dimension. With the opening of Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in 1977, a living monument was created, building a bridge of cultural understanding between George Morikami’s two homelands.