Living conditions

All of the camps were constructed according to the War Department's specifications, which included barbed-wire fences, guard towers, and armed guards around the perimeter. The camps were organized in "blocks" consisting of twelve to fourteen barracks, a mess hall, communal showers and toilets, laundry facilities, and a recreation hall. Each barracks was divided into four or six rooms with each room housing one family, no matter how large, and there was no running water. The furnishings that Japanese Americans found on their arrival were canvas cots, a potbellied stove, and a single bare light bulb. The thin walls offered little protection from the harsh weather, which ranged from 110 degrees in the summer to 25 degrees below zero on winter nights. The flimsy construction allowed no privacy and made normal family life difficult. Camp inmates improved their own living conditions by creating interior walls and partitions, constructing furniture from scrap lumber, and planting gardens.

Living conditions (957)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Arts and crafts in camp, Community analysts, Manzanar Children's Village

950 items
Japanese Americans behind homemade pond (ddr-densho-2-65)
img Japanese Americans behind homemade pond (ddr-densho-2-65)
Shown here are Japanese Americans from Block 26 in front of their handcrafted fish pond.
Laundry room (ddr-densho-15-71)
img Laundry room (ddr-densho-15-71)
The Minidoka concentration camp was divided into thirty-six blocks, each with its own communal laundry facility, like the one shown here.
Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
img Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
Mrs. Shioshi (left) and Mrs. Odoi inside camp barracks. Both had sons in the military.
Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
img Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
The barracks apartments that housed Japanese Americans contained cots and a coal-burning stove, but no other furniture. Camp inmates often made their own furniture and other accessories from scrap lumber.
Four Japanese Americans outside a barrack (ddr-densho-20-5)
img Four Japanese Americans outside a barrack (ddr-densho-20-5)
Left to right: Yoshiro Okawa, Suszu Okawa, Hiroshi (Junior) Okawa, and Kiyoshi Okawa.
Japanese Americans coping with dusty conditions (ddr-densho-37-475)
img Japanese Americans coping with dusty conditions (ddr-densho-37-475)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Jim Morikawa sprinkling in an attempt to settle the dust at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-828)
img Barracks interior (ddr-densho-37-828)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Interior view of barrack construction at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Camp gate (ddr-densho-37-228)
img Camp gate (ddr-densho-37-228)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake was different [referring to the camp's gate procedures]. Every evacuee leaving the colony behind the eight-foot fence was required to show a pass to the administrative area. Here, the ambulance stops at Gate 3, vehicle entrance to the colony, so the driver and attendant may show their passes to the Internal ...
Remodeled barracks exterior (ddr-densho-37-78)
img Remodeled barracks exterior (ddr-densho-37-78)
Original WRA caption: A view showing the artistic way in which the evacuees decorate the exterior of the barracks to make them more homelike.
Japanese Americans behind a fence (ddr-densho-37-799)
img Japanese Americans behind a fence (ddr-densho-37-799)
Original WRA caption: Closing of the Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. Evacuees still remaining in the Jerome Center wave to their friends on the train from behind the wire fence surrounding the camp. On subsequent departures they were allowed to pass through the gate and say their goodbyes at close range.
Camp street (ddr-densho-37-823)
img Camp street (ddr-densho-37-823)
Original WRA caption: Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho. Looking down the rows of barracks westward from block 44. At extreme left is a corner of the dining hall where the 275 to 300 residents of the block eat. At center background is the sanitation building including showers, lavatories, toilets and washtubs. Nearly all the residents planted ...
Vine-covered barrack (ddr-densho-37-537)
img Vine-covered barrack (ddr-densho-37-537)
Original WRA caption: Rohwer Relocation Center, McGehee, Arkansas. Vines hide the tar paper on this Rohwer residence.
Japanese American family inside barracks (ddr-densho-39-28)
img Japanese American family inside barracks (ddr-densho-39-28)
Dorothy and Jack Yamaguchi, pictured in the middle and to the far right, with their children and the children's grandmother, were from Seattle, Washington. The Yamaguchis returned to Seattle after World War II and worked to help preserve Japanese American history. They developed a slide show and accompanying book called This Is Minidoka, which they used ...
Two children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-25)
img Two children walking between barracks (ddr-densho-39-25)
The children are Irene Ito, 4, and her brother Hiroshi, 1 1/2. (Info from original museum description)
Street scene in winter (ddr-densho-93-39)
img Street scene in winter (ddr-densho-93-39)
Original Ansel Adams caption: Winter storm, Manzanar Relocation Center, California / photograph by Ansel Adams.
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