Living conditions

The "assembly centers" were hastily erected quarters located throughout the West Coast at fairgrounds, racetracks and other similar facilities. Conditions at these locations were appalling. People were housed in animal stalls and barracks with communal bathrooms and mess halls. Privacy was next to nonexistent. Most families lived in a 20-by-20-foot room separated from the next "apartment" by wood partitions that did not reach the ceiling. Shortages of food and deplorable sanitation were common. Overcrowding, uncertainty, and stress created tension in the "assembly centers," even as the demoralized camp inmates tried to improve living conditions.

World War II (66)
Temporary Assembly Centers (94)
Living conditions (312)

312 items
Shigeko Sese Uno Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-98-15)
vh Shigeko Sese Uno Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-98-15)
Caring for a newborn baby in Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington
Tosh Yasutake Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1000-138-4)
vh Tosh Yasutake Interview Segment 4 (ddr-densho-1000-138-4)
First impressions of the Puyallup Assembly Center: "it was like going to an army camp"

William Toshio Yasutake was interviewed together with his sister Mitsuye (Yasutake) Yamada and surviving brother, Joseph Yasutake, in group sessions on October 8-9, 2002. He was interviewed individually on November 14, 2002.

Before being contacted by Densho, the Yasutake siblings had …

May Y. Namba Interview Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-171-15)
vh May Y. Namba Interview Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-171-15)
Spending twentieth birthday in camp: receiving a birthday cake from a military police officer
Frank Yamasaki Interview I Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-107-15)
vh Frank Yamasaki Interview I Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-107-15)
Former teacher visits camp: loss of "happy-go-lucky" adolescence in Puyallup
Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 41 (ddr-densho-1000-153-41)
vh Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 41 (ddr-densho-1000-153-41)
Memories of mass removal: traveling to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, becoming head of the "vegetable department" at Santa Anita

Although Mr. Matsumoto does not identify himself as a Kibei (American-born person of Japanese ancestry sent to Japan for formal education and socialization when young and later returned to the U.S.), some of his life experiences …

May Y. Namba Interview Segment 16 (ddr-densho-1000-171-16)
vh May Y. Namba Interview Segment 16 (ddr-densho-1000-171-16)
Memories of Puyallup Assembly Center: meeting people from Alaska
Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 44 (ddr-densho-1000-153-44)
vh Roy H. Matsumoto Interview Segment 44 (ddr-densho-1000-153-44)
Keeping busy to pass the time in assembly center, trying not to feel too angry

Although Mr. Matsumoto does not identify himself as a Kibei (American-born person of Japanese ancestry sent to Japan for formal education and socialization when young and later returned to the U.S.), some of his life experiences are similar to those who …

May Ota Higa Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-174-18)
vh May Ota Higa Interview Segment 18 (ddr-densho-1000-174-18)
Restrictions after the bombing of Pearl Harbor; first impressions of Puyallup Assembly Center
Frank S. Fujii Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-8-11)
vh Frank S. Fujii Segment 11 (ddr-densho-1000-8-11)
Impressions of Puyallup Assembly Center: physical discomforts, meeting new people

This interview was conducted over two days due to electrical problems. The majority of the interview was completed on the second day, September 5.

May K. Sasaki Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-79-15)
vh May K. Sasaki Segment 15 (ddr-densho-1000-79-15)
Feeling like a "caged animal" in Puyallup Assembly Center
Mits Koshiyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-130-7)
vh Mits Koshiyama Interview Segment 7 (ddr-densho-1000-130-7)
Santa Anita Assembly Center: making camouflage nets, observing loss of family ties
Yae Aihara Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-221-8)
vh Yae Aihara Interview Segment 8 (ddr-densho-1000-221-8)
First impressions of Puyallup Assembly Center, having a graduation ceremony
Robert Mizukami Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-114-10)
vh Robert Mizukami Interview Segment 10 (ddr-densho-1000-114-10)
Forced into "Camp Harmony," Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington

This is the first in a series of interviews conducted by the Puyallup Valley Japanese American Citizen League in collaboration with Densho.

API