Manzanar Historic Site introduces wartime mess hall

REVISITING HISTORY — Visitors to the Manzanar National Historic Site can gain some insight into the wartime incarceration experience by visiting the mess hall where more than 10,000 people ate their meals while imprisoned. photo courtesy of National Park Service

INDEPENDENCE, Calif. — The Manzanar National Historic Site has built a mess hall where visitors can gain a glimpse of camp life for the more than 10,000 persons of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in the concentration camp during World War II.

The mess hall is the first building completed as part of a “Demonstration Block” called for in Manzanar National Historic Site’s General Management Plan.

According to the statement, 36 mess halls served three meals a day for up to 300 people, 365 days a year.

The exhibit features historic photos, articles, and quotes depicting the incarceration experience. In addition to the mess hall and two recently reconstructed barracks, Manzanar’s Interpretive Center features extensive exhibits, audio-visual programs, and a bookstore.

Manzanar National Historic Site Superintendent Les Inafuku stated, “As I walk through the mess hall, I find myself imagining that I’ve walked in right at the busiest moment of a meal, and that I’d better be careful not to bump into a cook or dish washer. My great thanks go out to the former internees who provided us with the fine details about meals and the mess halls, plus the countless hours that our Manzanar staff and our creative and dedicated exhibit designers and fabricators devoted to research, develop concepts, and to produce the exhibits.”

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

2020 Japanese Culture Guide

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