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 (714)

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

714 items
Envelope and letters to Dr. Keizaburo
doc Envelope and letters to Dr. Keizaburo "Kei" Koyama from Miriam Kiyo Koyama and William Koyama (ddr-one-5-28)
Envelope addressed to Dr. Keizaburo Koyama at Camp Livingston from his children, William Koyama and Miriam Kiyo Koyama, at Minidoka. Postmarked Sep 11, 1942. To the left of the postmark “Sept 14, 42” is written in red pencil. On the left side of the envelope is a purple "Censored" stamp. Inside the envelope are two letters ...
Masamizu Kitajima Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-287-20)
vh Masamizu Kitajima Interview Segment 20 (ddr-densho-1000-287-20)
Unprepared for winter weather conditions in Arkansas

This material is based upon work assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Tomiye Terasaki Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-122-10)
vh Tomiye Terasaki Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-122-10)
First impressions of Tule Lake concentration camp, finding ways to pass the time (Japanese language)

This interview was conducted in Japanese. It was translated so as to convey Mrs. Terasaki's way of speaking as closely as possible. For example, there are instances in which she makes some grammatical errors. These mistakes are conveyed through similar ...

Roger Shimomura Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-142-7)
vh Roger Shimomura Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-142-7)
Childhood memories of the Puyallup Assembly Center and Minidoka concentration camp: celebrating third birthday, contracting measles, "getting into a lot of mischief"
Internees filled mattress tickings (ddr-densho-253-3)
img Internees filled mattress tickings (ddr-densho-253-3)
Caption: "Internees filled matress tickings with straw as the last daylight fades over the Sierras. Upon these ticks, covering metal Army cots, Japanese slept. Only essential furniture was supplied. Additional comforts were fashioned in Manzanar workshops."
Woman en route to the shower (ddr-densho-2-7)
img Woman en route to the shower (ddr-densho-2-7)
Kadju Nishimura of Block 26 is on her way to take a shower. Note the Japanese clogs, called geta, that she is wearing. Geta enabled her to keep her feet clean while she walked through the dirt and mud.
Japanese American shoveling coal into a heater (ddr-densho-15-72)
img Japanese American shoveling coal into a heater (ddr-densho-15-72)
Camp inmate shoveling coal into the block's central heater, which will warm water for the laundry and bath facilities.
Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-123)
img Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-123)
Left to right: Norio Mitsuoka, Bob Ikeda, and Tak Hori sit inside Yoneko Tanaka's barracks.
Japanese American making furniture (ddr-densho-15-63)
img Japanese American making furniture (ddr-densho-15-63)
Barracks apartments were furnished only with a coal-burning stove and a cot. Consequently, many camp inmates made furniture from scrap lumber.
Camp administration buildings (ddr-densho-37-778)
img Camp administration buildings (ddr-densho-37-778)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. A review of the administrative area after a December snow storm. At the left is the post office and the two buildings at the right are administrative office buildings.
Winter in camp (ddr-densho-37-351)
img Winter in camp (ddr-densho-37-351)
Original WRA caption: A winter time scene looking east down the main fire break.
Exterior view of Amache (Granada) (ddr-densho-37-389)
img Exterior view of Amache (Granada) (ddr-densho-37-389)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. Weeds are already taking over where recently thousands of evacuees moved about between their temporary homes and the mess halls, schools and churches of various denominations. A total of nearly 15,000 evacuees were induced into the Granada Project, Amache, Colorado, since August 27, 1942, when the first ...
Shower facilities (ddr-densho-37-477)
img Shower facilities (ddr-densho-37-477)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Typical shower facilities at this War Relocation authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Minidoka concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-424)
img Minidoka concentration camp (ddr-densho-37-424)
Original WRA caption: Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho. Looking down at 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 ...
Camp street (ddr-densho-37-810)
img Camp street (ddr-densho-37-810)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Street scene and view of quarters for evacuees of Japanese ancestry at Manzanar reception center. High Sierras in background.
Aerial view of Amache concentration camp, Colorado (ddr-densho-37-772)
img Aerial view of Amache concentration camp, Colorado (ddr-densho-37-772)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. On a Sunday afternoon at the Amache Center, the day is calm and the warm December sun invites center residents from their barracks homes.
Flooded conditions (ddr-densho-37-690)
img Flooded conditions (ddr-densho-37-690)
Original WRA caption: Flooded area east of Block 3.
Japanese Americans waiting in line for mess hall (ddr-densho-37-812)
img Japanese Americans waiting in line for mess hall (ddr-densho-37-812)
Original WRA caption: Manzanar Relocation Center, Manzanar, California. Ready to pass into dining room at Manzanar, a War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
Camp landscaping (ddr-densho-37-532)
img Camp landscaping (ddr-densho-37-532)
Original WRA caption: Rohwer Relocation Center, McGehee, Arkansas. In contrast to most of the relocation center sites, many of the blocks in the Rohwer Center are shaded by trees. The residents have done much to make their tar paper barracks more livable by the planting of flowers and vegetable gardens and the building of rustic walks ...
Modified barracks (ddr-densho-37-774)
img Modified barracks (ddr-densho-37-774)
Original WRA caption: Granada Relocation Center, Amache, Colorado. A typical barracks building resident of the first apartment has constructed, with scrap lumber, a storm porch and added a touch with mock shutters at the windows.
Camp entrance (ddr-densho-37-798)
img Camp entrance (ddr-densho-37-798)
Original WRA caption: Closing of the Jerome Relocation Center, Denson, Arkansas. Last glimpse of the Jerome Center as residents leave by train to take up their residents at another center.
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