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 (954)

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

947 items
Shig Yabu Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1011-10-9)
vh Shig Yabu Interview Segment 9 (ddr-densho-1011-10-9)
Description of camp facilities: churches, library

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.

Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1002-8-11)
vh Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1002-8-11)
Memories of caring for a child in camp: washing diapers in an ill-equipped communal laundry room

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection ...

Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1012-5-7)
vh Chizuko Iyama - Ernie Iyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1012-5-7)
Passing time in camp, making furniture out of scrap lumber (audio only)

This interview is audio-only. It contains raw footage used by Steven Okazaki in his 1985 film Unfinished Business.

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 ...

Nori Masuda Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1010-10-17)
vh Nori Masuda Interview Segment 17 (ddr-densho-1010-10-17)
Coping with living conditions 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.

Harry Ueno Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-7-14)
vh Harry Ueno Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-7-14)
Working to build a pond for the camp residents to enjoy while waiting in line for the mess hall

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews ...

Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-8-14)
vh Aiko Herzig Interview Segment 14 (ddr-densho-1002-8-14)
Difficulties experienced in the day-to-day living conditions in camp

This interview was conducted by sisters Emiko and Chizuko Omori for their 1999 documentary, Rabbit in the Moon, about the Japanese American resisters of conscience in the World War II incarceration camps. As a result, the interviews in this collection are typically not life histories, instead primarily ...

Henry Fukuhara Interview Segment 6 (ddr-manz-1-3-6)
vh Henry Fukuhara Interview Segment 6 (ddr-manz-1-3-6)
Arriving at Manzanar before camp was fully constructed
Taketora Jim Tanaka Interview Segment 12 (ddr-manz-1-50-12)
vh Taketora Jim Tanaka Interview Segment 12 (ddr-manz-1-50-12)
First impressions of Tule Lake: guard towers, barbed wire fence, military police
Mary Nomura Interview Segment 3 (ddr-manz-1-7-3)
vh Mary Nomura Interview Segment 3 (ddr-manz-1-7-3)
Arriving at Manzanar: "I was on the verge of crying"
Richard M. Murakami Interview Segment 6 (ddr-manz-1-161-6)
vh Richard M. Murakami Interview Segment 6 (ddr-manz-1-161-6)
First impressions of the Tule Lake concentration camp, California
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
Marian Asao Kurosu Interview Segment 56 (ddr-densho-1000-118-56)
vh Marian Asao Kurosu Interview Segment 56 (ddr-densho-1000-118-56)
Water and primitive facilities at Tule Lake concentration camp, California

During this interview, Mrs. Kurosu alternately speaks in both English and Japanese. As a result, the English translation of the transcript contains [Jpn.] and [Eng.], which indicate whether the original dialogue was spoken in Japanese or English.

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