Snapshots

Japanese American National Museum, Gift of the Walter Muramoto Family (97.292.3P)

Walter Muramoto was an amateur photo enthusiast and unofficial camp photographer at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas, where many people asked him to photograph events and groups in the camp.

Mr. Muramoto was incarcerated at Rohwer from September 30, 1942, to September 7, 1945. Born in California, he lived in Redondo Beach before World War II and resettled in Lodi, California, immediately after the war ended.

Look closely at this snapshot that Mr. Muramoto took in 1945.

  • How would you describe the two people?
  • About how old do you think they are?
  • What are they wearing?
  • Does the instrument he’s strumming provide any hints about the influences in their lives?
Japanese American National Museum, Gift of the Walter Muramoto Family (97.292.2Q)

This is another snapshot taken by Mr. Muramoto in the concentration camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, during World War II.

  • What do you notice about the sweater this individual is wearing?
  • Does this type of sweater communicate anything to you about him? If so, what does it tell you?

In 1942, approximately 14 percent of the 112,000 incarcerated people of Japanese descent were high school students.*

* Dorothy Swaine Thomas, The Salvage: Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1952), 580.
Japanese American National Museum, Gift of the Walter Muramoto Family (97.292.4AI)

Look closely at this picture.

  • What do you think this is a picture of? Why do you think so?
  • What do you notice happening in the foreground and the background?
  • Does this snapshot make you curious about the relationship between culture, tradition, and community?

As seen in this snapshot, Japanese cultural traditions like Kabuki were performed in the camp. Sumo, baseball, Japanese flower arranging, Japanese dance, and Japanese calligraphy were also practiced in camp.

Japanese American National Museum, Gift of the Walter Muramoto Family (97.292.13M)

Look closely at this photograph.

  • Who might be the oldest person in this picture?
  • Who might be the youngest?
  • How might they be related to each other?
  • Where do you think the picture was taken? Why do you think so?
  • Do you think family ties would have been strengthened or weakened by life at the camp?

This picture was taken in front of the barracks where families lived in Rohwer, Arkansas.

JANM-EACC-Loyalty-97-292-3P.jpeg JANM-EACC-Loyalty-97-292-2Q.jpeg JANM-EACC-Loyalty-97-292-4AI.jpeg JANM-EACC-Loyalty-97-292-13M.jpeg
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Walter Muramoto Collection
Japanese American National Museum, Gift of the Walter Muramoto Family (97.292.3P, 97.292.2Q, 97.292.4AI, 97.292.13M)
  • Is it possible to be loyal to more than one place, culture, or group? Why or why not?
  • How do Walter Muramoto’s snapshots support your answer?

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