Camp Life

General Setup of Camp

  • Camps usually located in desert – unbearable temperatures such as, scorching summers and freezing winters.
  • Every camp was fenced and resembled prisons, with guards keeping watch on watch towers.
  • Government did not provide many resources for citizens.
  • Barracks housed citizens.
  • Searchlights scanned throughout the camps at night.
  • “The searchlight followed you from your front door to the bathroom and waited for you to come out again.” – Rei Kasama, survivor of JA Internment camps.
  • Mothers were in charge of children and household chores.

– At one camp, there was 30,000 feet of clothesline outside.

Food and Health

  • Citizens grew their own vegetables and fruits.
  • Some citizens grew ill from inadequate nutrition and lack of medical care.
  • Personal Account: One woman is unable to feed her newborn baby milk and is unable to breastfeed it; as a result, her baby suffered throughout its whole life.
  • Each barrack had its own building for food.
  • Food was horrible – one survivor recalls being served mainly “organ meats” such as heart, liver, and kidney from various animals.
  • Restrictions for food deliveries.


– All items had to be obtained by mail or by friends delivering personally.

– Bakery: 1 cake, 1 dozen cupcakes/doughnuts, 2lb. cookies, 1lb. crackers.

– Canned: 2 cans of fruit, 2 cans of fruit juices, 2 1qt. bottled fruit juices; total of 2 cans or 2 bottles.

– Jams and Jellies: Containers must not exceed 2lbs.

– Candies/Gum: 2lb candy, 6 pieces gum.

– Fresh fruits: not to exceed 1 small box of each variety, 1 watermelon, 6 cantaloupes.

– Fresh vegetables: not to exceed 4 lbs, cannot require warming or cooking.




  • Teachers were not always qualified.
  • Many had gaps in education due to lack of qualified teachers.
  • They learned mainly recreational activities, such as music and sports.
  • Goal of educating adults was to make Issei more Americanized.

– Classes on “Americanism” and “Democracy Training” were taught.

  • Women were taught home economics: knitting, sewing, crocheting, etc.
  • High school, Jr. High/Elementary, Nursery school offered.




  • Sports were a major form of recreation.
  • It created an escape from the harsh reality of being prisoners.
  • Most popular sport was softball.
  • At one camp, there were 50 mens and boys teams.
  • Other sports included baseball, basketball, volleyball, ping pong, horseshoes, marbles, weight lifting, tumbling, and judo.
  • At one camp, 3000 people attended opening matches for Sumo wrestling.


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