The relocation centers varied in size from 6,000 acres at Manzanar to 72,000 acres at Poston, which had three camps. The camps were isolated: some on plains where wind and dust constantly swept through the barracks, and some in swampland where unbearably humid temperatures assailed the internees. Since these camps were isolated on undeveloped and virgin land, the agricultural expertise of the internees enabled them to make the land highly productive. However, preparing the land for productive use required great expenditures of time and energy.

Camp living quarters were confined to an area of about one-and-a-quarter square miles, encircled by a barbed-wire fence and guarded by watchtowers ominously staffed by military police and armed soldiers with bayonets. The interior was divided into blocks, each comprised of fourteen or more barracks. Usually constructed of prefabricated wood-frame materials, the exterior of each building was covered with tarpaper for insulation against the weather. Because the lumber used for construction was not properly cured, it soon dried and buckled, leaving gaping holes in the walls and floors. Toilet facilities, baths, and laundry were located in the central section of each block, and were shared in communal style. Likewise, all meals were prepared and served in a large mess hall where everyone from the block was served together.

Since each center was the size of a small city, aside from the key administrative positions held by Caucasians, the internees were employed in every facet of life in the centers. Unskilled workers received twelve dollars per month; semi-skilled workers received sixteen dollars per month; while professionals like doctors received nineteen dollars per month.

One of the more serious causes of friction within the relocation center was the lack of privacy. There was no privacy in the evacuee quarters, in the showers, or in the latrines. There was simply no way to escape other people. Everywhere one went, there was a crowd. Up to eight beds lined the wall in some units, and partitions between units extended only as high as the beginning of the roofline, which rose to a peak in the center of the room. A neighbor’s intimate secrets were carried very clearly and quarrels were heard everywhere.

Another serious cause of friction within the relocation camps was the conflict between the Issei and the Nisei. Table 11 shows the ratio of males to females, Issei to Nisei population, and size of the age groups represented among the evacuees.

The younger, Americanized Nisei often conflicted with the traditional, conservative Issei. The language barrier and lack of communication only aggravated this situation and intensified the feelings of both groups. The 110,000 Japanese-American evacuees were hardly prepared for the drastic changes they were forced to experience. These Japanese, whose strength was founded in family-oriented disciplines, suddenly found themselves in a communal situation where these disciplines were difficult to enforce.