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All Manzanar photographs are from the National Archives Registry unless otherwise noted. Copies of these pictures can be obtained directly from the National Archives.

These images are some of my favorite. There nearly 500 Manzanar internment images in the National Archives files. I encourage you to visit the archives and peruse the many photographs. Once you click on the icon above and are taken to the archives, type in "Manzanar" and then press "Display Results" and the images will be displayed in sets of nine.
You might observe, as I did, that the internees appear rather unnaturally joyous in these pictures. I don't think that having been dislocated from their homes and businesses, forced to live in a harsh desert environment and confined to barracks with no insulation would have made them this happy. But as Jeanne Wakatsuki points out in her book, Farewell to Manzanar, Japanese Americans told each other very quietly to "Shikata ga nai" ("It must be done", or, as my Japanese friend says, "Suck it up [and get on with life]." Perhaps this is what encouraged them to put a smile on their face.

The photographer for the majority of these photographs was Dorthea Lange.

Text excerpts followed by a "JWH" are from Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston's book "Farewell to Manzanar"

Daily Life at Manzanar

Impounded cars
Impounded cars of Japanese Americans. Internees were not permitted to use any of their cars during the internment at Manzanar.

Rear: Eva (left) and Emiko Yamashita. Front: Mici Yamashita (left), and Taka Sakai unpacking in their barracks

Bert Miura
Bert Miura working at the garment cutting factory in Manzanar.

Young Japanese
Young Japanese American internee.

Nisei girls
Nisei girls Toshiko Mikami and Kazuko Sakai on the banks of Shepards Creek.

Geta shoes
Yaeko Yamashita (in doorway)
watches Fugiko Koba trying a new pair of geta (sandals).

Lucy YonemitshuLucy Yonemitshu
Lucy Yonemitshu in her barracks at Manzanar.

Mary Nagao
Mary Nagao, from Los Angeles, CA., at one of seamstresses barracks.

"A young woman came in, a friend of Chizu's, who lived across the way. She had studied in Japan for several years. About the time I went to bed she and Papa began to sing songs in Japanese, warming their hands on either side of the stove, facing each other in its glow. After a while Papa sang the first line of the Japanese national anthem, Kimi ga yo. Woody, Chizu, and Mama knew the tune, so they hummed along while Papa and the other woman sang the words. It can be a hearty or a plaintive tune, depending on your mood. From Papa, that night, it was a deep-throated lament. Almost invisible in the stove's small glow, tears began running down his face.
It is not a martial song, or a victory song, the way many national anthems are. It is really a poem, whose words go back to the ninth century:

Kimi ga you wa chiyoni
yachiyoni sa-za-re i-shi no i-wa-o to
na-ri-te ko-ke no musu made.

May thy peaceful reign last long.
May it last for thousands of years,
Until this tiny stone will grow
Into a massive rock, and the moss
Will cover it deep and thick"

Japanese girl
Young Japanese American removing articles from the local paper relating to the relocation at Manzanar.

Takeshi Shindo
Takeshi Shindo, Manzanar Free Press Reporter.

Jack Toyo
Jack Toyo putting the finishing touches on fireman caps.

Geta (stilt-like) sandals.

New Japanese American arrivals moving into their quarters at Manzanar.

New Japanese American arrivals moving into their quarters at Manzanar.

"For all the pain it caused, the loyalty oath finally did speed up the relocation program. One result was a gradual easing of the congestion in the barracks.

In Block 28 we doubled our living space - four rooms for the twelve of us. Ray and Woody walled them with sheetrock. We had ceilings this time, and linoleum floors of solid maroon. You had three colors to choose from - maroon, black, and forest green - and there was plenty of it around by this time. Some families would vie with on another for the most elegant floor designs, obtaining a roll of each color from the supply shed, cutting it into diamonds, squares, or triangles, shining it with heating oil, then leaving their doors open so that passers-by could admire the handiwork." (JWH)

Manzanar Home.
A bare barracks furnished only with an Army cot and mattress. This is a far cry from the homes and businesses they were forced to leave behind.

Clerk obtaining personal information from internees.

Japanese American
Unknown Japanese American at Manzanar.

Nisei girls
Nisei girls Toshiko Mikami and Kazuko Sakai on the banks of Shepards Creek.

Karl Yoneda
Karl Yoneda, Block Leader at Manzanar.

Afternoon walk
Afternoon walk at Manzanar.

JoAnne Keiko Masuoka Serran of Union City, California writes.


My parents were interned at Manzanar. Edward Fumio Masuoka and Ruth Fujiko Murata Masuoka. They
met in San Francisco after being released from camp. Both are deceased now. Unfortunately, they
spoke very little about their life at Manzanar. After reading an excerpt of "Farewell to Manzanar"
it perked my interest and now I wish I knew more about their life in camp. What little they did tell
me was not the same as what I read in the excerpt. I realize that I read a small portion of the
story; however, I will read as many stories as I can about camp life.

JoAnne Keiko Masuoka Serran (Sansei) - October 2002.

Grandfather and grandson.

Henry Ishizuka, UCLA graduate, superintendent of the camouflage project.

H.M. Kumano
H. M. Kumano, artist, teacher of painting in the art project at Manzanar.

"[Papa] painted watercolors. Until this time I had not known he could paint. He loved to sketch the mountains. If anything made that country habitable it was the mountains themselves, purple when the sun dropped and so sharply etched in the morning light the granite dazzled almost more than the bright snow lacing it. The nearest peaks rose ten thousand feet higher than the valley floor, with Whitney, the highest, just off to the south. They were important for all of us, but especially for the Issei. Whitney reminded Papa of Fujiyama, that is, it gave him the same kind of spiritual sustenance. The tremendous beauty of those peaks was inspirational, as so many natural forms are to the Japanese (the rocks outside our doorway could be those mountains in miniature). They also represented those forces in nature, those powerful and inevitable forces that cannot be resisted, reminding a man that sometimes he must simply endure that which cannot be changed." (JWH)

Frank Hirosawa
Frank Hirosawa, scientist from Seattle, Washington worked on the guayule rubber experiment project as research rubber chemist.

Togo Tanaka
Togo Tanaka.

Chico Sakaguchi
Chico Sakaguchi, born in Los Angeles
in 1918, and in one in a family of six children, all of whom are college graduates. UCLA graduate in 1940 with a major in English.

Making camouflage nets for the War Department.

Swimming in the creek which flows by internment facility at Manzanar.

Swimming in the creek which flows by internment facility at Manzanar.

Young Japanese American girls practicing school songs.

Making camouflage nets for the War Department.

Barracks life at Manzanar.

"As the months at Manzanar turned to years, it became a world unto itself, with its own logic and familiar ways. In time, staying there seemed far simpler than moving once again to another, unknown place. It was as if the war were forgotten, our reason for being there forgotten.

The fact that America had accused us, or excluded us, or imprisoned us, or whatever it might be called, did not change the kind of world we wanted. Most of us were born in this country; we had no other models. Those parks and gardens lent it an oriental character, but in most ways it was a totally equipped American small town, complete with schools, churches, Boy Scouts, beauty parlors, neighborhood gossip, fire and police departments, glee clubs, softball leagues, Abbott and Costello movies, tennis courts, and traveling shows. (I still remember an Indian who turned up one Saturday billing himself as a Sioux chief, wearing bear claws and head feathers. In the firebreak he sang songs and danced his tribal dances while hundreds of us watched.)" (JWH)

Making artificial flowers.

The first grave at the Manzanar Center's cemetery. Matsunosuke Murakami who died at age 62.

Mrs. Matsumoto
Mrs. Harry Matsumoto, a University of California graduate, and her husband were superintendents of the Children's Village where 65 orphans were housed and cared for.

Chiyeko Nakashima
Chiyeko Nakashima, high school student, playing table tennis in the girl's recreation hall.

Oko Murata
Oko Murata (left), and Esther Naito, in their barrack apartment.


Esther Naito
Esther Naito, in her barrack apartment.

Ice cream
Left to right, foreground: Florence Yamaguchi, Nancy Kawashimi, Floyd Fujiu at the community store.

Memorial Day
Memorial Day services at Manzanar.

Left to right, Mrs. T. Kakehashi; Mitsoshi Shijo, 5 months old, and Mrs. M. Shijo, seated on a rustic bench under a twig umbrella built by George S. Takemura.

"My sister Lillian was in high school and singing with a hillbilly band called 'The Sierra Stars' - jeans, cowboy hats, two guitars, and a tub bass. And my oldest brother, Bill, led a dance band called 'The Jive Bombers' - brass and rhythm, with cardboard fold-out music stands lettered J.B. Dances were held every weekend in one of the recreational halls. Bill played trumpet and took vocals on Glenn Miller arrangements of such tunes as In the Mood, String of Pearls, and Don't Fence Me In. He didn't sing Don't Fence Me In out of protest, as if trying quietly to mock the authorities. It just happened to be a hit song one year, and they all wanted to be an up-to-date American swing band. They would blast it out into recreation barracks full of bobby-soxed, jitter-bugging couples:

Oh, give me land, lots of land
Under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in.
Let me ride through the wide
Open country that I love

Pictures of the band, in their bow ties and jackets, appeared in the high school yearbook for 1943-1944, along with pictures of just about everything else in camp that year. It was called Our World." (JWH)

Florence Yamaguchi
Florence Yamaguchi (left), and Kinu Hirashima, both from Los Angeles, are pictured as they stand under an apple tree at Manzanar.

Nancy Kawashima
Nancy Kawashima (left), and Emiko Hino, both from Los Angeles, arrange paper flowers for one of many art exhibits at Manzanar.

Block leaders
A group of Block Leaders who are drawing up the Constitution for this War Relocation Authority center. They are: front row, (L to R) Karl Yoneda, H. Inouye: Back row, (L to R) Bill Kito, Ted Akahoshi, Tom Yamazaki, and Harry Nakamura..

Young Japanese Americans at Manzanar.

Young Japanese Americans at Manzanar.

Young Japanese girl at Manzanar.

Dance given by the Girls' Relocation Committee.

Ghosts of the Past 3 - Bruce Morgan's '49ers  

20-Mule-Team History  

 More Manzanar Japanese Internment Camp History


 Manzanar High School Portraits & History


 More Manzanar History & Manzanar Free Press


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This page was last updated on 27 August 2017