A | More | Perfect | Union --  Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution
The Japanese American ExperienceReflectionsCollection SearchResourcesCredits

click to enlarge
click to enlarge
Moving Out

The order to prepare for the move to the assembly centers left little time for packing, selling household goods, or locating safe storage for precious personal possessions. Allowed to take only what they could carry, Japanese Americans headed for the camps had no room for toys, precious heirlooms, or other personal treasures. Family pets were left behind with memories of the old neighborhood. The patterns of daily life were shattered.

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

click to enlarge ""We were told to take only as much as we could carry in our two hands. How much could you carry in your two hands? One big suitcase...well, how can you really manage with a big stuffed suitcase?""
— Anonymous

Mary Tsukamoto: Getting Ready (oral history transcript)

click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Sue Embery: We are American citizens (oral history transcript)

The government offered to store some household possessions for families "at the sole risk of the owner." The government actually stored very little. In many cases, the offer came too late. Some families were fortunate enough to have friends or neighbors who cared for houses, cars, and other possessions.

Morgan Yamanaka: One week to leave (oral history transcript)

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

For thousands of Japanese American homeowners and small businessmen, moving out also meant selling out — quickly, and at an enormous loss. The total dollar value of the property loss has been estimated at as much as 1.3 billion dollars. Net income losses may have been as high as 2.7 billion dollars (both in 1983 dollars).

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center