HORSE’S MOUTH: An Underwater Tunnel Between Korea and Japan?



By George Yoshinaga


As a tribute to the late Nao Takasugi, I thought it might be appropriate to put a photo of him in my column.

So, I scanned through my photo albums because I knew that over the years, when meeting him at various events, I had photos taken of him.

I found the one that I felt would be nice to use. It was taken about a decade ago at a luncheon where Nao was one of the honored guests. He’s seated on the left. In the middle was another honored guest, the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. Sorry I can’t identify the three others in the photo. Of course, I don’t have to ID the one standing on the far right in the photo.

Horse, right, poses with the late Nao Takasugi, left, and John Wooden.

Horse, right, poses with the late Nao Takasugi, left, and John Wooden.

My wife and I are planning to drive up to Oxnard for his memorial service Sunday.

There are two routes to Oxnard and I was pondering on which one to take. One is the Pacific Coast Highway which runs through areas like Malibu and Point Magu. The other one is through San Fernando Valley through Thousand Oaks. Some tell me the San Fernando Valley route is faster although it might be a bit further. I am opting for PCH.

I’m sure many of Nao’s friends from the Los Angeles area will be making the trip to Oxnard to bid their final farewell.


In a recent column in mentioning that Marukai Market opened a branch in Cupertino in Northern California, that the city is the only one in the U.S. where the Asian American population is the majority of the population, the city has a population of 55,623 of which 57 percent are Asian Americans.

Well, here’s another tidbit which can be added:

Cupertino made history last week when it swore in a newly-elected City Council member, making it the only city in Northern California with Asian American Council majority.

Grace Yoo, Professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University exclaimed, “Wow, this is a major milestone for Cupertino!”

The newly-elected City Councilman is Barry Chang, who joins Gilbert Wong and Kris Wang on the five-member body.

Wang is the mayor and Wong, the vice-mayor of Cupertino.

Wang has served two terms as Mayor. He commented, “It’s a huge honor not only for me but to have a community that is diverse and mature enough to elect the best representa­tive.”

During the ceremony swearing-in, the newest Asian member of the Council, a full crowd at the rite ap­peared to welcome the make-up of the Council.

Wong, who was born and educated in the Santa Clara County, said of the new make-up of the Council, “We should celebrate but we should also look to one day that five Hispanic or five Chinese on a City Council will not be looked upon as being unique and different.”

All this because I happened to mention that Marukai opened a branch in Cupertino?

Oh well….


On the heels of my plug for Hiro’s Transmission in Gardena, reader, Diana Ono wrote me the following:

“I read your 11/28 column and would like to also thank Calvin of Hiro’s Transmission in Gardena. Calvin Miyahara is Hiro’s son. I took my daughter’s 2001 Isuzu Trooper with over 150,000 miles, he replaced the transmission and guaranteed his work. It’s been running great for the past few years. His price is much better than the dealers. He deserves a shout out and thanks for his good work.”

Thanks, Diana. I’m sure Hiro’s Transmission appreciates your comment. And, I’m glad I finally learned the full name of owner operator Hiro’s Transmission.


I guess like the rest of you, I watched President Obama’s speech the other evening on TV. He made his much anticipated speech at West Point before about 4,000 cadets who attend the military academy.

Just the fact that he selected West Point as the place he was going to talk about the “war” in Afghanistan, is an indication of the President knowing what kind of audience he wants to address when talking about the military.

As is my habit, I clocked the length of his talk. No surprise.

Hey, after all, some of my friends in Hawaii using their pidgin English, often say, “Dah buggah all mouth.”

Yeah, I’m not an Obama fan. And it’s just not because I’m a Republican. From the latest poll, it would seem that a lot of Americans are becoming “Un-Obama fans,” too.

Heck, even some of the liberal media are starting to find cracks in Obama’s presidency.


Speaking of the media, it seems these days there’s nothing but crime events occupying space in the news. And it’s not restricted to what is usually labeled as “high crime areas.”

An elderly couple unloading groceries in the driveway of their home after shopping at their local market, getting mugged Folks getting assaulted and robbed in their homes.

That’s one of the reasons I won’t let my wife drive to go grocery shopping even in our presumably safe neighborhood.

But, elderly men had better be on the alert, too. I guess I fit in this category.

There are scams now talking advantage of older men.

Women often receive warning about protecting themselves at places like the mall and in parking lot, but there is no warnings for older men.

And it is becoming more and more common as the shopping season begins.

One elderly man says he became a victim while shopping for just a few supplies. And he says don’t be naive enough to think the same thing can’t happen to you.

Here is how the scam works: Two seriously good-looking women come to the victim’s car as he is packing his shopping into the trunk. They both start by wiping the windshield with a rag and Windex, exposing a lot of themselves in their skimpy T-shirts. The victim finds it hard not to look at them. When he thanks them and offers them a tip, they say, “No,” and instead ask for a ride to a nearby McDonald’s.

The victim agrees and the women get in the back seat. On the way, they start undressing.

Then one of them climbs over into the front seat and starts crawling all over the victim, while the other one steals the victim’s wallet.

So, all elderly men are urged to beware of this type of scam as it is becoming quite common.

I guess in this tough economic times, we can expect activities like this to grow.

Seems like bad behavior regard­ing the younger generation is now part of the landscape.


But, hey, even in Japan, youngsters are beginning to emulate what’s going on in the good old USA.

According to the latest report, bad behavior in schools in Japan are hitting new record highs. Problematic behav­ior by students at primary, middle and high schools hit a record high in the 2009 academic year with nearly 60,000 incidents reported. About 70 percent involving violence.

The victims in one in four such cases, excluding destruction of school property were injured and received treatment at medical institutions, suggesting that many of the perpetrators are unable to control their emotions and end up physically injuring others.

The survey covered national and municipal public schools as well as private ones across Japan.

Students were most frequent victims of violence with 32,4445 reported incidents of students-on-students violence.

It was the first time the Education Ministry surveyed injuries from violence.

The survey also detected 84,648 cases of bullying.

Oh my, this is Japan?


Maybe after the foregoing piece on Japan, I can begin this portion with, “leave it to the Japanese.”

When Los Angeles discussed building more public transportation (including the plans for an underground railway near J-Town), most wondered how such a project could be launched.

Digging tunnels under our city, is the question posed by most who hear about such plans.

Now, comes the “leave it to the Japanese” angle. No. Ellay isn’t going to hire Japanese firms build such an underground system for our city.

Would you believe they are planning to build an undersea tunnel connecting South Korea to the Island of Kyushu?

An economic and technical feasibility study on building an undersea tunnel between Japan and Korea is being conducted. If they go ahead with the project, it should be developed by the year 2020. Both the Korean and Japanese government seem ready to discuss the possibility of such a project.

Of course, it there is any objection, it may come from the South Korean side, because when Korea was under Japan’s colonial rule, such a plan was discussed.

The distance covered by the tunnel will be approximately 230 kilometers.

While this may seem like an enormous undertaking, we should remember that they connected the Island of Honshu with the northern Island of Hokkaido, which many thought was an enormous undertaking.

So now when the Japanese travel to Hokkaido, they can either take the old way on a ferry boat or on trains which runs underwater between the two Islands.


Well, it’s time for me to don my “publicity agent” hat and tout my favorite college soccer player, Kyle Nakazawa of the UCLA soccer team.

Kyle, a senior for Bruins, has been nominated for the Soccer New Net’s 2009 Player of the Year award.

Nakazawa was named to the Top Drawer Soccers National Team of the Season first team and was a first team All Pac-10 honoree.

He had a career-best 12 goals and 30 points and ranks among the national leaders and has provided the bulk of the scoring for the UCLA team this season, recording a goal or assist on 62 percent of the Bruins’ goals.

Kyle was also named to the All Pac-10 Academic team which would indicate that he’s just as outstanding in the classroom as he is on the soccer field.

This is the second year that Kyle has been nominated to the all-academic team.

As usual, I have to also congratulate Kyle’s proud Grandpa, Al Nakazawa, an old friend of mine.

Yes, in the past I seem to forget and label Kyle as a Sansei, but he is really a Yonsei. I guess I’ll get this generation thing squared away one of these days.


Still lingering on sports.

If any of you watch the North Torrance High School’s girls basketball team, you might think you’re at an NAU women’s game.

Just check the lineup sheet and box score and you find the names of Imamura, Kika, Kuroyama, Matsushima, Ono, Shimasaki, Tofukuji, Yamauchi and Yonamine on the roster. Kika is one of the team’s leading scorers, but all the others get on the scoring list, too.

Isn’t that amazing, 9 JAs are on a high school roster?

Of course, other high schools in the South Bay area have Japanese Americans on their rosters. Mostly, I presume are Yonsei and maybe a few Gosei:

• West Torrance High has Yoshiza­wa, Niitake, Yamashiro and Ishigo.

• South Torrance High has Ishii, Maeda and Nabeshima.

• Peninsula High has Tsukamoto, Nagasaki and Sugimoto.

Let’s not forget some of the boys playing varsity prep basketball:

• Torrance High has Watanabe and Hiroshima.

• Peninsula High has Yukawa.

Seeing all the “Japanese” names reminds me of the good old days when cagers like Herb Isono, Dick Nagai, Kaz Shinzato, Yoneo Inouye, Jim Miyano, Tets Tanimoto and Jiro Takahashi used to make the headlines for their respective prep squads.

Now, it’s the gals rather than the guys who are starring for their prep teams.


The Tiger Woods incident is still the hot topic in the media and already some clever wit has concocted quips about the famed golfer.

Many of you probably have seen these already because it was e-mailed to me. However, for those who haven’t, I thought you might get a chuckle out of them even though it may not be amusing to some. Try these:

•What’s the difference between a car and a golf ball? Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards without hitting a tree.

• Woods was injured in a car accident as he pulled out of his driveway. It was Woods’ shortest drive since an errant tee shot at the U.S. Open.

• Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn’t decide between a wood and an iron.

• Perhaps Tiger should have used a driver.

• This is the first time Tiger’s ever failed to drive 300 yards.

• Tiger is so rich that he owns a lot of expensive cars. Now he has a hole in one.

Gee, who sits up at night thinking up these clever dittie?


Today is Wednesday as I write this. Well, actually I’m writing this Wednesday evening.

This morning, a Nisei friend, who is also a horse racing fan called as I was having breakfast at home.

He opened by saying, “I know you’re going out to Hollywood Park today.”

My response was, “Huh?”

Then he asked me if I scanned the entries at Hollywood Park for Wednesday.

“Naw,” I told him, “Why do you ask?”“Just look at the 5th race,” he shot back. “I know you’re a hunch player so you gortta go out and bet on the race.”

So, I glanced at the entry and saw “Suziecutie.” As everyone knows, my wife’s name is Susie, with an “S” instead of a “Z.”

Yeah, it was hunch time. So, I drove out and placed a bet. Naw, she ran 5th.

I should have stayed home and mowed the lawn.


I guess if my wife thinks it’s funny, I might as well use it for my laugher. At any rate, try this one:

One morning, the husband returns the boat to their lakeside cottage after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out.

She motors out a short distance, anchors, puts her feet up and begins to read a book.

The peace and solitude are magnificent.

Along comes a Fish and Game Warden in this boat.

He pulls up alongside the woman and says, “Good morning, Ma’am. What are you doing?”

“Reading a book,” she replies (thinking, isn’t that obvious).

“You’re in a restricted fishing area,” he informs her.

“I’m sorry, Officer, but I’m not fishing, I’m reading.”

“Yes, but I see you have all the equipment. For all I know you could start fishing at any moment. I’ll have to take you in and write you up.”

“If you do that, I’ll have to charge you with sexual assault,” the woman responded.

“But, I haven’t even touched you,” says the Game Warden.

“That’s true, but you have all the equipment. For all I know, you could start at any moment.”

“Have a nice day, Ma’am,” and he left quickly.

Moral of the story: Never argue with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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