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 (618)
Living conditions (1023)

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

1023 items
Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
img Japanese Americans making furniture (ddr-densho-15-65)
The barracks apartments that housed Japanese Americans contained cots and a coal-burning stove, but no other furniture. Camp inmates often made their own furniture and other accessories from scrap lumber.
Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
img Two Japanese Americans inside barracks (ddr-densho-15-60)
Mrs. Shioshi (left) and Mrs. Odoi inside camp barracks. Both had sons in the military.
Four Japanese Americans outside a barrack (ddr-densho-20-5)
img Four Japanese Americans outside a barrack (ddr-densho-20-5)
Left to right: Yoshiro Okawa, Suszu Okawa, Hiroshi (Junior) Okawa, and Kiyoshi Okawa.
Issei couple sitting on barracks porch (ddr-densho-24-20)
img Issei couple sitting on barracks porch (ddr-densho-24-20)
Sawano (left), and Bunshiro Tazuma in front of their barrack. The Tazumas were originally from Seattle, Washington, and owned the Tazuma Ten-Cent Store on Jackson Street before World War II.
Mother and her children in front of their barracks (ddr-densho-34-111)
img Mother and her children in front of their barracks (ddr-densho-34-111)
Shigeko Kitamoto and her children (left to right): Frances, Jane, Frank, and Lilly Kitamoto.
Three children behind barracks (ddr-densho-34-118)
img Three children behind barracks (ddr-densho-34-118)
Left to right: Frank, Lilly, and Jane Kitamoto behind their barracks at the Minidoka concentration camp.
Family outside their barrack (ddr-densho-34-163)
img Family outside their barrack (ddr-densho-34-163)
The Takemoto family outside their barrack at the Manzanar concentration camp, California.
Japanese Americans coping with dusty conditions (ddr-densho-37-475)
img Japanese Americans coping with dusty conditions (ddr-densho-37-475)
Original WRA caption: Poston, Arizona. Jim Morikawa sprinkling in an attempt to settle the dust at this War Relocation Authority center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry.
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.
Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
img Muddy conditions (ddr-densho-37-350)
Original WRA caption: Tule Lake Relocation Center, Newell, California. Thaws turn the streets and firebreaks into seas of mud, and makes difficult motor transportation through the center.