Densho Digital Archive
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre Collection
Title: Mitsu Ito Interview
Narrator: Mitsu Ito
Interviewer: Mary Ito
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 23, 2005
Densho ID: denshovh-imitsu-01-0011

<Begin Segment 11>

Mitsu I: And the war ended, and the Canadian government said, "You can't go back to Mission or B.C. You'll either go to, east to Ontario, or we'll give you a free boat ride back to Japan. So my father wanted to go back to Japan to see the son that was living in Japan, 'cause he hadn't been back for a long time. So he took the offer of going back to Japan. And there were quite a few other people that took the offer to go back to Japan.

Mary I: And did you go, too?

Mitsu I: And we all went.

Mary I: You all went?

Mitsu I: Yeah. That way we could all stick together, so we all went back. That was in 1946.

Mary I: So that was right after the war.

Mitsu I: Yes.

Mary I: What was it like? What was Japan like at that time?

Mitsu I: Well, when we went to Shiga-ken where my parents came from, when we got off the boat, we got on the train. The train was just packed with people returning from overseas and prisoner of war coming back, and we got off at Maibara, and my father's brother came to meet us. And as we were walking back to his farm, he said, "Why did you come back to this place? Because it's awful; there's nothing to eat."

Mary I: Did you find that the case? Was there, was it difficult to, to find food?

Mitsu I: Well, the farmers were all right, because they grew their own rice and vegetables. But people that lived in the city, I think they really had a hard time.

Mary I: What were the stores like in the city?

Mitsu I: Well, they, there wasn't too much food, because we used to see people going on the train to buy vines and things that, potato vines, and they were eating anything they could find. And there was a man near the railway station, he came back from Vancouver and opened up a sawmill, and he gave me a job working in the sawmill. So I worked there for about one month.

Mary I: For a month, and then what else did you do?

Mitsu I: Then one day, I was at the railway station in Maibara, and the train came by, and there were soldiers on the train. And went up to speak to him, and they said, "Oh, you speak English?" I says, "Yeah, came back from Canada, and I'm looking for a job." "Oh," he says, "come down to Hiroshima." He says, "They're looking for people who speak Japanese and English." So I went home and got my suitcase, and got on the train going towards Hiroshima, 'cause in Japan, the railway ran from north-south, so even if I didn't know where Hiroshima was, I knew it was south of Maibara, so I got on the train with a suitcase and stood by the door all the way down to Hiroshima. Took about twenty-four hours.

Mary I: You stood by the door for twenty-four hours?

Mitsu I: Because the train was packed with soldiers with knapsacks and if you get in, you couldn't get out. People were jumping out of windows when they come to the next station, they would, people in the middle of the train would go out from the window because it was so packed. So I stood all the way. And in Japan, the conductor always says, "Next station is," this and that, so when he said, "Next station is Hiroshima," I was ready to jump out.

Mary I: But you used the door?

Mitsu I: Yeah.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2005 Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Densho. All Rights Reserved.