About Us

Friends of Manzanar
Dedicated to Sharing the Lessons of History
Friends of Manzanar is a volunteer organization comprised of men and women committed to educating others about the World War II experience of Japanese Americans. After the outbreak of the war,120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of them American citizens, were confined in America's concentration camps. Manzanar, located in California between the towns of Independence and Lone Pine, was one of ten such camps.

The National Park Service operates Manzanar National Historic Site, where the restored camp auditorium now houses an Interpretive Center featuring 8,000 square feet of exhibits, audio-visual programs, and two theaters. The Interpretive Center stands not only as an educational resource but also as a symbol of tolerance and understanding.

Friends of Manzanar works to support efforts to enhance Manzanar  National Historic Site, such as the restoration of two barracks buildings and reconstruction of the mess hall and accompanying interpretive work.  When completed, the interpretive work inside the two barracks buildings and mess hall of Block 14 will allow visitors to step back in time and imagine what it must have been like for the men, women, and children inside Manzanar during those uncertain times. 

We need your help to create and sustain this unique and worthwhile endeavor. Click here to learn more about our educational mission.
Friends of Manzanar  P.O. Box 357   Independence, CA  93526                                                                                                 website design by Hapa Consulting Services - Los Angeles
Farewell, Dear Friend
Friends of Manzanar is saddened by the passing of our co-founder Lillian Kawasaki, who succumbed to cancer July 18, 2013 -- taken from us too soon.

Her leadership and passion helped support early efforts to preserve and share the story of the Japanese American wartime experience, particularly at Manzanar National Historic Site.

Among myriad accomplishments throughout her life and career, Lillian helped secure federal recognition for MNHS, serving as primary liaison to United States Senator Dianne Feinstein in crafting the language for legislation. Lillian went on to champion the campaign to erect Manzanar's replicated guard tower, a sobering symbol of the incarceration destined to inspire visitors for generations to come.

Our hearts go out to her family.  We sincerely thank them for sharing her with us.

                       Friends of Manzanar
                       Board of Directors
Lillian Kawasaki
1950 - 2013

Friends of Manzanar is embarking on an ambitious project at Manzanar National Historic Site to replicate the men’s and women’s latrines that once were part of the wartime camp.

The reason is simple. When completed, the latrines will augment the existing National Park Service MNHS interpretive experience and help all who visit there understand, in a very meaningful way, just one of the indignities endured by 120,000 Japanese Americans unjustly incarcerated from 1942 to 1945 in the 10 War Relocation Authority camps that existed from California to Arkansas.

Each latrine was constructed on a concrete slab with 12 toilet bowls arranged in six pairs back to back with no partitions. One former prisoner was a child at the time, but she remembers clearly: “My mother was a very modest person. This was agony for her, sitting down in public, among strangers.” 

“I refused to go to the latrine in public,” recalls another, “so I always waited until everyone was asleep late at night even though many times it was freezing cold.” 

With the help of young volunteers from the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, constructing the latrines will be swift and cost-effective. Funds will primarily be used for building materials and technical support. Our goal is to raise $120,000, just $90 per square foot, by the end of January 2015. Donors’ names will be acknowledged on a permanent plaque nearby and on the Friends of Manzanar website.  

Please consider supporting efforts by Friends of Manzanar to preserve and share the lessons embodied in our nation’s history. Your generous gift will help ensure that Manzanar National Historic Site’s educational mission continues for the benefit of all Americans for this and future generations. 

Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law and may be made by clicking here.

Bruce Saito
Friends of Manzanar 
(Left) Remains of latrine foundation; (center) sign identifies where Block 14 latrine was located; (right) commodes were built in close proximity.