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.

World War II (66)
Concentration camps (592)
Living conditions (974)

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

974 items
Miyoko Kaneta Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1000-449-6)
vh Miyoko Kaneta Segment 6 (ddr-densho-1000-449-6)
Living conditions in camp: six in one room, bad food, dust
Kara Kondo Interview Segment 31 (ddr-densho-1000-139-31)
vh Kara Kondo Interview Segment 31 (ddr-densho-1000-139-31)
Description of living quarters at Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming
Jim Akutsu Segment 25 (ddr-densho-1000-2-25)
vh Jim Akutsu Segment 25 (ddr-densho-1000-2-25)
A growing anger over conditions in camp plants seeds of resistance

Interview was conducted over two days because of delays caused by technical difficulties.

Gene Akutsu Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-1-11)
vh Gene Akutsu Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-1-11)
Minidoka concentration camp: armed MPs, housing and camp layout; finishing school, drafted for military service, and mail censoring
Masao Watanabe Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1000-103-17)
vh Masao Watanabe Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1000-103-17)
Reaction upon moving to Minidoka: "they were treating us like dogs"

At the time this interview was taped, Mr. Watanabe was recovering from a recent series of cancer treatments.

Tomio Moriguchi Interview I Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-59-7)
vh Tomio Moriguchi Interview I Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-59-7)
Mother copes with raising several children in camp, including newborns
Roy Nakagawa Interview Segment 25 (ddr-densho-1000-358-25)
vh Roy Nakagawa Interview Segment 25 (ddr-densho-1000-358-25)
Coping with weather extremes in camp

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.

Rick Sato Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1000-80-9)
vh Rick Sato Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1000-80-9)
Impressions of Heart Mountain concentration camp: "Out in the middle of nowhere"
Nancy Kyoko Oda Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1000-463-4)
vh Nancy Kyoko Oda Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1000-463-4)
Older sisters traumatized by difficult living conditions in camp
Akio Hoshino Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1000-26-9)
vh Akio Hoshino Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1000-26-9)
Minidoka concentration camp: social life, work, impact of incarceration on families
Kazumi Yoneyama Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-412-10)
vh Kazumi Yoneyama Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-412-10)
Coping with difficult living conditions in camp: fainting from the heat