Manzanar, Ca. Manzanar Buddhist Church, 1945. ,203,pp. Original printed wrappers, riveted at gutter margin. Some chipping and tearing to spine, with four hasty, but relatively unobtrusive tape repairs. Light wear at edges. Very light tanning and dust soiling. Mostly in Japanese. Very good. Item #1495
An extensive and detailed mimeograph directory that lists members of the Buddhist Church at the Japanese internment camp in Manzanar, produced and published by church members in the camp during the waning months of
World War II. Buddhists were targeted specifically during the early stages of relocation because of unsubstantiated fears prevalent in the military and federal law enforcement agencies that Japanese-Americans who professed the religion were a particular danger to security. As a result, practicing Buddhists made up a large proportion of the population in internment camps.
The present work was published in late May 1945, just after the battle for Okinawa, as the end of the war in the Pacific began to seem less remote. Japanese internees deemed sufficiently loyal had begun to be released at the beginning of the year. With approximately twenty entries per page, this directory contains the names and personal details of over 4000 Japanese Buddhist internees at Manzanar (at its peak population, the camp held over 10,000 internees). The final six pages contain the names, ages, and death dates of the 113 church members who died at Manzanar between May 1942 and May 1945. Much of the work is in Japanese, with names also given in the Roman alphabet and an English foreword that reads:
"The Manzanar Buddhist Church Directory present the Buddhist members -- their names, wartime addresses, domiciles, the children born in Manzanar, and those who have deceased during this world turmoil. We have lived together under one Faith and Spirit during the past three years, and now there is an air of sadness as we depart from this relocation center. We fervently hope that when you turn these pages in the years to come, it will help you in unfolding many pleasant memories of Manzanar and of her people."
Amazingly, the Japanese characters printed in the directory were all produced from stencil work by one of the camp's residents, Mitsuru Mitsuhata, who is credited on the final leaf and acknowledged "for his untiring effort and time contributed to the publication." The editor of this work, Shinjo Nagatomi, was the Reverend and leader of the church; Nagatomi and the diary he kept during his imprisonment were principal subjects of a recent monograph on the role of Buddhism in the Japanese internment camps, American Sutra, by Duncan Williams. The church itself is depicted in several of Ansel Adams' and Dorothea Lange's famous images of the camp.
An outstanding and rare document of the Japanese internment at Manzanar; we locate only two copies, at Claremont and Yale.