Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto Interview
Narrator: Marion Tsutakawa Kanemoto
Interviewer: Alice Ito
Location: SeaTac, Washington and Seattle, Washington
Date: August 3 & 4, 2003
Densho ID: denshovh-kmarion-01-0030

<Begin Segment 30>

AI: Well, as you say, it sounds like the month of September went very quickly, and then...

MK: Then October came when the time for the exchange came. And (...) some Canadians joined us in New Jersey, to join us in the exchange. And I believe they picked up people from Brazil and Uruguay. But they were on the different deck, or the level on the ship. So we never intermingled.

AI: Well, so you took a train from Minidoka to New Jersey?

MK: Yes.

AI: And then in New Jersey is where you actually boarded the SS Gripsholm?

MK: Right, right. And so the boat was detained by about a month.

AI: So, tell me about the trip on the Gripsholm.

MK: Oh, well, the Gripsholm was very nice, actually, very, very nice. We had waiters at the table with a towel. And they pulled your chair out. And so we were treated royally. But, unfortunately, with the seasickness, all the food that was presented us wasn't as appetizing. I used to get motion sickness, so... but this is when my father said, "You see how your good manners do pay off if you... this is the way it's done." So, we really enjoyed it. I mean... uh-huh. (...) I made new friends. (...) I think it was Teiya maru, well, no, on the Gripsholm, too. There were other leaders, of course, Japanese schoolteachers who formed little groups who said from age so and so -- I think it was elementary, and high school, we got together at one of the sunrooms and we started learning our Japanese. And so there was intense Japanese training, which was good and proper to keep us busy. And since I had already been exposed to the Japanese school in Seattle, it wasn't super hard or anything, but that was another social gathering, so that...

AI: Well, so the trip on the Gripsholm was actually quite long?

MK: Yes.

AI: A number of weeks?

MK: Yes, about a month and a half, uh-huh.

AI: So, you had some of these organized activities while you were --

MK: Right. And that, the little classes that we had, I think, is about the only thing I remember. And then eating, I mean, just, as a teenager, that's one of the things you look forward to, but I don't remember too much of the other things that we did.

AI: The Gripsholm, I think, made several stops.

MK: Yes.

AI: In its, in its journey.

MK: Yes, yes. So it was Rio, the first one.

AI: Rio de Janeiro?

MK: de Janeiro. And actually we did not park -- dock at the dockside, it was in the bay or whatever you call it. And I remember the little ships were coming to unload, or the immigration people would be coming on board. And then there were activities going, but they wouldn't allow us to really see too much that was happening, (...) but then I remember we were not docked on the dockside.

AI: And as the Brazilians and Peruvians came, it, you didn't really mix with them?

MK: No, we never really mixed with them because they were on a different floor. So there was so much unknown, unknown. And I learned a lot, you know, later on, after the Information of Freedom Act, '77, then this information came out. But until then, I didn't even know that that's why the boat was delayed by a whole month because they didn't have enough. 'Cause the United States was not at war so they didn't have Japanese prisoner, real prisoners to exchange. So, now, if things are real bad they would have probably, yeah, even literally, took us out of camp and counted us out and exchanged us. I hear that that's, was one of their intentions. That's how the Peruvians were used as you probably have heard.

AI: Exactly. Well, after Rio de Janeiro, then you had some other --

MK: Then we went to Montevideo, which was again, another country in South America, which was Uruguay, and never met them, mingled with them. So this, too -- I don't even know if we were on dockside or what, but I know we were there. And then we took off at night, I believe. Lot of it, we were not allowed... they never encouraged us (...) looking out (...). I don't remember that there was a strict rule order, but anyway, my recollections are very limited. Then they told us, well, we're gonna really have a long journey now. So for about a week and a half, I think it was, when we were going around the cape of Africa.

AI: So you went south --

MK: South.

AI: -- around the Cape of Good Hope, or of Africa?

MK: Right.

AI: And then...

MK: Then we ended up in (...) India, the west side of (...) India, in a little, this was a small port. No warehouses, it was really very, I guess it was a hush-hush deal. And another interesting thing was, you know, this Gripsholm -- it was a white ship, but it sported a blue cross, and that meant that it was (...) a neutral, it was not Red -- well, Red Cross is neutral, but it was a blue cross. So that was the first time I learned that there was such a thing, that there was a neutral ship.

<End Segment 30> - Copyright © 2003 Densho. All Rights Reserved.