Uchida’s family was assigned to the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, CA. At Tanforan, people were housed in horse stables with no personal space.
They were moved again to a camp in Topaz, Utah. This camp was in the arid desert and housed 8,000 other Japanese American internees and their families. Conditions in Topaz were intensely difficult as well. The internees were housed in hastily-built barracks that didn’t keep out the heat or cold. They were fenced in with barbed wire and watched by armed guards in towers.
On June 15, 1943, the Uchida family (from left to right: Yoshiko, mother Iku, father Dwight, and older sister Keiko) stood in front of their barracks at the Topaz, Utah War Relocation Authority administered concentration camp.
Yoshiko used her college education to give back to the community at Topaz. She signed up to be a teacher.
In her camp memoir, Desert Exile, Uchida describes her days at Camp Topaz.
"I worked hard to be a good teacher; I went to meetings, wrote long letters to my friends, knitted sweaters and socks, devoured any books I could find, listened to the radio, went to art school and to church and to lectures by outside visitors. I spent time socializing with friends and I saw an occasional movie at the Co-Op. I also had a wisdom tooth removed at the hospital and suffered a swollen face for three days. I caught one cold after another; I fell on the unpaved roads; I lost my voice from the dust; I got homesick and angry and despondent. And sometimes I cried." -Yoshiko Uchida
Uchida also continued to develop a writer’s discipline in the camps. She kept a detailed diary and a scrapbook to record the daily ups and downs. These materials are now archived in the Bancroft Library.