Social and recreational activities

Japanese Americans found ways to fill the long days created by the enforced idleness of camp life. They made jewelry from shells found in the desert, built furniture for their rooms using scrap lumber and renovated the exteriors of their barracks. People also played cards, chess, checkers, mahjongg, and the Japanese games 'go' and 'shogi.' Camp inmates held dances, concerts, plays, and arts and crafts exhibitions. In Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho, they even held a beauty contest to select the "Sweetheart of Minidoka."

World War II (216)
Concentration camps (1346)
Social and recreational activities (1128)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Arts and crafts in camp, Music in camp

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1128 items
Alan Ladd, Sue Carroll [Carrol], and Bill Kato [with an injured man] (ddr-csujad-56-313)
img Alan Ladd, Sue Carroll [Carrol], and Bill Kato [with an injured man] (ddr-csujad-56-313)
Two injured men, including Bill Kato, play cards, while Alan Ladd and Sue Carol look on. Taken at Fitzsimmons General Hospital. Handwritten text on back of photo reads, "Taken at Fitz. Gen. on Dec. 12, 1944, including Alan Ladd, Sue Carroll and Bill Kato." The original image is housed with the Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens …
Japanese Americans preparing shells for jewelry making (ddr-densho-2-50)
img Japanese Americans preparing shells for jewelry making (ddr-densho-2-50)
Kumataro (left) and Kadju Nishimura measure and separate shells to be used in jewelry-making. The Nishimuras woke up at the crack of dawn and dug waist-deep holes to find the shells. The shells were then bleached white and later painted. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake …
Minidoka Matinee Orchestra (ddr-densho-2-36)
img Minidoka Matinee Orchestra (ddr-densho-2-36)
Left to right: Joe Owaki (drums), Hiro Nishimoto (MC), Dorrie Abe (piano), Ted Shimano (orchestra conductor), Amy Iguchi (clarinet), Yosh Ogata (saxophone), George Kaku (violin), and Sally Makishima (violin). The residents of the Minidoka concentration camp formed numerous musical ensembles to pass the time. Orchestras, bands, and choirs frequently staged performances for entertainment.
Japanese American making shell jewelry (ddr-densho-2-58)
img Japanese American making shell jewelry (ddr-densho-2-58)
Peggie Yorita making jewelry from shells found within the confines of the Tule Lake concentration camp. Making jewelry was a popular pastime for the Japanese Americans. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed. As a result, shells were available for people to fashion into jewelry for …
Jewelry made in camp (ddr-densho-2-49)
img Jewelry made in camp (ddr-densho-2-49)
This corsage pin was made by Peggie Yorita, a Japanese American at the Tule Lake concentration camp. The flowers and leaves are composed of shells found at the camp. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where people found shells for making jewelry to sell to …
Japanese American and friend digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-60)
img Japanese American and friend digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-60)
Jimmie Yorita (right) digs for shells used by people in camp to make jewelry. His sister, Patsy (left), and Neal Frost, son of one of the camp's teachers, sift the dirt. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where camp inmates found shells for making jewelry …
Corsage made of shells (ddr-densho-2-4)
img Corsage made of shells (ddr-densho-2-4)
This corsage pin was made by a Japanese American in camp. The flower petals and leaves are made from various types of shells found at the camp. She used toothbrush bristles dipped in cornmeal for stamens and wound the stems by hand with fine green thread. Wire from screen windows was used to put the pin …
Japanese American and friend sifting for shells (ddr-densho-2-59)
img Japanese American and friend sifting for shells (ddr-densho-2-59)
Patsy Yorita (left) and Neal Frost, (son of a teacher at the Tule Lake concentration camp), sift dirt for shells. The shells were used by people in the camp to make jewelry. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where people found shells for making jewelry …
Japanese American making jewelry (ddr-densho-2-61)
img Japanese American making jewelry (ddr-densho-2-61)
Peggie Yorita makes jewelry from shells found at the Tule Lake concentration camp. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where people found shells for making jewelry to sell to camp personnel. Shells were scarce, and digging became competitive. To beat the rush, some peopel got …
Minidoka camp queen and her court (ddr-densho-2-34)
img Minidoka camp queen and her court (ddr-densho-2-34)
Minidoka concentration camp queen and her court. Left to right: Unidentified, Aiko Heyamoto, Grace Kawata, unidentified, and Ann Nakamura.
Camp garden (ddr-densho-2-69)
img Camp garden (ddr-densho-2-69)
This garden was designed by Mr. Kogita (first name unknown), second from the left. Peggie Yorita is on the far left.
Shells used for jewelry making (ddr-densho-2-51)
img Shells used for jewelry making (ddr-densho-2-51)
Japanese Americans at the Tule Lake concentration camp enjoyed making jewelry from shells, such as the ones shown here, which were found within the confines of the camp. These shells have not yet been bleached. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on the old lake bed, where people found shells …
Japanese Americans digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-48)
img Japanese Americans digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-48)
Left to right: Peggie Yorita, Margaret Frost (wife of one of the camp's teachers), Kumataro Nishimura, and his wife, Kadju, dig and sift for shells at the Tule Lake concentration camp. Kumataro made the sieve by hand from scrap lumber and wire from a door screen. The shells were bleached and used for jewelry-making, which was …
Block 26 garden and pond (ddr-densho-2-68)
img Block 26 garden and pond (ddr-densho-2-68)
Japanese Americans from Block 26 fashioned this garden and pond.
Japanese Americans digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-47)
img Japanese Americans digging for shells (ddr-densho-2-47)
These individuals are digging for shells to make jewelry, which was a popular pastime for many Japanese Americans in camp. Left to right: Kumataro Nishimura, Kadju Nishimura, Jimmie Yorita, Neal Frost (son of one of the teachers at Tule Lake), and Patsy Yorita. Tule Lake was drained in the early 1900s. The camp was located on …
Play staged in an internment camp (ddr-densho-64-1)
img Play staged in an internment camp (ddr-densho-64-1)
The play being performed is comic relief for a nine series adult drama. Mako Nakagawa is on the far right.
Cast of a stage play (ddr-densho-64-2)
img Cast of a stage play (ddr-densho-64-2)
Mako Nakagawa is in the front row on the far right.
Sweetheart Beauty Pageant winners (ddr-densho-10-5)
img Sweetheart Beauty Pageant winners (ddr-densho-10-5)
Finalists in the Minidoka concentration camp Sweetheart Beauty Pageant surround the winner. Left to right: Barbara Kurimura, Pauline Tamiyasu, Chizuko Hayashi, Kimi Takatsuka, Noble Kodama, Pearl Hirata, and Fumi Kinoshita. The Sweetheart Beauty Pageant began in the winter of 1943. The contest was designed to lighten the mood of the camp. Each block, or camp division, …
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