I like living in Japan a lot, but one aspect of my adopted country I’m not a fan of is the way everything is so tightly structured, with concrete and asphalt and traffic lights and social rules locking everyone in place. So while I’m in the U.S. during the summer months, I like to try to do things that are as far from my life in Japan as I can, like randomly heading out for a nice long drive through the desert in my 2002 Miata convertible. This weekend I took a spontaneous trip to Reno, Nevada, since this is my last free weekend before we start the summer anime conventions, and had a nice relaxing time on the road, drinking in the scenery around me as I drove, anime tunes playing on the iPod.On my drive up route 395, I passed by the Manzanar War Relocation Center, and knew I had to stop for a visit. Manzanar was the most famous of ten internment camps constructed during World War II to inter 120,000 “enemy” Japanese (two-thirds of whom were full U.S. citizens). During the war, the U.S. government issued an order to remove Japanese citizens and Americans of Japanese descent from the Pacific states (though not from Hawaii), which disrupted the lives of countless people. In addition, thousands of Nikkei from South American nations including Peru were brought to the U.S. and put in the camps. Now Manzanar has been transformed into a historical monument with an excellent museum and reconstructed barracks you can walk through to see what it must have been like for the poor people who had lived and worked there, weaving camouflage netting for the U.S. troops to use. It was a sobering experience, and I recommend you visit if you’re ever passing through. (Incidentally George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, spent several years at a similar camp as a boy.)
I took a trip to a Japanese internment camp.