HORSE’S MOUTH: Meet The Mayor of Aliso

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
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This may not be the most pleasant subject to begin a column, but this past Saturday, I attended services for the late Mas Kinoshita, held at the Centenary Methodist Church in Little Tokyo.

It was the third consecutive Saturday that I attended services to say, “Goodbye” to a friend.

I met Mas when we were both residents at the Gakusei-kai, the student house for Nisei collegians.

When I heard of Mas’ passing, I went through my photo files and found the photo which I am including in today’s column.

It was taken in 1947 so simple math can tell you how many years have passed, which is probably the reason that besides myself, there were only three former “gak house” guys at Mas’ service.

I was able to chat with two of them but couldn’t get the chance to talk to the third.

One of whom I talked to about “the good old days” was Tug Tamaru. In the photo, he is standing to the right of me and next to him is Mas.

The “gak house” guys in a photo taken in 1947.

Stone Ishimaru, the other “gak house” friend took the photo so he wasn’t in the shot.

Tug, after graduating from USC went on to hold down a top-level  position with the City of Los Angeles.

He also married the first postwar Nisei Week Queen, Terry Hokoda.

All the guys in the photo went to and graduated from SC. except me. I was at Los Angeles City College.

Since I didn’t transfer to SC after a little over a year at LACC, I was evicted from the “gak house.”

At any rate, it was a pleasure and great experience to live under the same roof with guys who went on to achieve so much in their adult lives.

All the guys except one. He became a newspaper columnist.

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I don’t profess to be a food critic but from time to time when I try a new eating place, I often  tell of my experience at such a restaurant and my opinion on the quality of the food, service and general atmosphere of the establishment.

Usually, eating in a new restaurant is in an area away from where I generally dine out.

This past weekend, for example, I was out driving in Culver City when my eye caught a colorful sign which read, “Golden China Restaurant.” The name describes the type of cuisine that is served.

Since Chinese food ranks right up there with Japanese food as my favorite, my wife and I decided to give it a try.

It is often said that the first impression is important.

Well, would you guess that the owner, himself, greeted me when I walked in. I can’t ever recall meeting the owner of a Chinese restaurant when I enter into an establishment.

But, Jack Cheng, the owner greeted me. No, he’s not a Rafu subscriber and didn’t recognize me as a columnist.

At any rate, those of you who know me won’t be surprised if I say that the first thing I look at when I open a menu in a Chinese restaurant are the figures on the right side of the menu. You know, the prices.

The figures were all very reasonable from the soup to all the entrees.

As I said, I’m not a food expert but all the dishes we ordered were really tasty. Among the dishes we ordered were shrimp, a fish dish and a vegetable dish.

So, say, for those of you who want to try a “new” Chinese place to dine, give the Golden China a try. It’s located at 9018 Venice Blvd., just west of Robertson Blvd.

And, oh yeah,  they don’t use “ajinomoto” in preparing their food. “Ajinomoto” is more commonly known as “M.S.G.” in English.

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I would guess that not everyone knows where the City of Aliso Viejo is located. And probably even fewer people know that the Mayor of the City is a Japanese American named Phillip Tsunoda.

He was elected to the post by his colleagues on the City Council on Dec. 2, 2009. He has served on the City Council since May 2007.

Tsunoda, in addition to his role on the City Council, serves as Chief of Staff to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

So now all of you know that Aliso Viejo is located in Orange County.

Prior to joining the OC staff, Tsunoda also served for three years as the Director of External Affairs for the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s office.

He also has held numerous other offices during his 12 years living in Aliso Viejo.

If all that doesn’t keep him busy, he’s also serving on the Board of Directors of the Aliso Viejo Little League.

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Should I start this segment with “I stand corrected?” Here’s what a reader sent me:

“Horse, I may have written you regarding, ‘it’s a well-known fact that the 442nd/100th was organized and trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi’ in one of your columns. Since then someone has written to you that you should do some research in your writing.

“Well, in this case, it is a well known fact that the 100th did not train at Camp Shelby. The 100th was trained at Camp McCoy, in Wisconsin, well before the 442nd was formed. The 100th was first deployed in North Africa and later became the 1st Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Italy.

“Many members of the 100th were drafted before Dec. 7 and were stationed at Schofield Barracks at the time of the attack.

“Another item which should be mentioned more is the fact that the interpreters were first deployed in the China Burma area and if my memory serves me correctly, before the interpreters were assigned on temporary duty with the Navy. I was an eyewitness of the attack of Pearl Harbor and my friend and I were nearly shot from the overhead dogfight between Japanese planes and our P-16s. We had one  casualty in Waipahu, Oahu. Another interesting fact that you might research is the fact that except for the so-called leaders of the Japanese community (Buddhist priests, leaders of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Japanese newspaper journalists and recent returnees from Japan), the rest of us were left alone to raise sugarcane, pineapples and work for the defense effort.

“Have fun with some of these facts that many never wondered about and having been living with the propaganda as the gospel truth.”

The writer of the foregoing wants to remain anonymous.

If other readers want to dispute his statements, I will be glad to print them in my column.

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Some of you who take or read the Los Angeles Times may have noticed that they have made some changes in their publication.

This is the result of the difficult times for the print media that the Rafu has been touching on for the past several weeks.

Well, it seems that the L.A. Times is facing the same problems  as the Rafu and by changing some of its format, they hope to keep publishing instead of folding up as many of the print media have over the past few years.

Just thought some of you L.A. Times readers and subscribers may have noticed the changes which are reported to be made:

The most noticeable of these changes will be the reduction of the page size from 48 inches to 44 inches.

Also, will be the elimination of the Business Section. Business news will be scrambled onto other sections of the Times.

Regarding the reduction in size, one anti-Times reader commented, “Let me know when they get the width down to toilet paper size and I will subscribe.”

Heh, heh. I guess if they ever do reduce to toilet paper size, many will have another way to use the publication after they get through reading it.

It’s been well-published that the Times readership has declined more than 30 percent.

The Times is owned by the Tribune Company, which remains in bankruptcy protection.

Maybe the publications have to hold a “Times Forum,” a la you-know-who.

(Maggie’s comment:  Forgive me, Mr. Y. to use your column to express my opinion on the L.A. Times. The L.A. Times should publish a TV Guide for the whole week in the form of a magazine because so many Seniors’ only entertainment is TV. Also, get rid of the thick HOME magazine, which is published in the Sunday edition. Most seniors live in their own homes and those who don’t, can’t afford to buy a home. It would be a big mistake to get rid of the Business Section, because it contains helpful and interesting information. Scattering the Business Section through the paper will lose continuity).

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While touching on “tough times,” I am curious abut the recent announcement that the City of Los Angeles is planning to eliminate 1,000 jobs currently held by employees.

What am I curious about?

Well, if the City can get rid of 1,000 employees and still function, what the heck were the 1,000 employees doing to earn their salary?

Hey, we’re talking about 1,000 employees here. Not just a few here and there.

So, if they do can that many employees, will the City still be able to function?

Say the MTA gets rid of 500 bus drivers, who will be driving the busses?

As I always say, just a thought.

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It’s no secret that crime is running rampant these days.

A lot of us may feel, it won’t happen to us.

Well, here’s something that might be food for thought to those who feel that way. A reader submitted the following:

“I went to Marukai Market in Gardena, using the entrance off Western Ave. next to Wendy’s Hamburger. When I was about to enter the Marukai parking, lo, a Black man, nicely dressed, waved to me in the middle of the driveway to stop. I did and cracked my window about an inch or so down so I could hear him.

“He said, ‘I just came to this country two days ago from Africa and I needed to find a church. Can you tell me where the church is?”

“I pointed to the South and directed him. He keep insisting he need to find a church. Then he said, ‘Wait, let me tell you why I must find the church.’ He was clutching on to a black bag and kept talking on his cell phone (perhaps talking to his partner in crime).

“Anyway, he then opened his little bag and pulled out a roll of bills and said, ‘I must donate this to the church. Could you drive me there and I’ll pay you $100.’

“At that point I told him I didn’t have the time and must hurry so he let me drive on.

“All the time I had my engine going and car door locked and just a small portion of my  window opened.

“Everything happened so fast and I was shaken and should have called the police right away, but didn’t. Fortunately, nothing happened to me, but when I thought about it the first thing I should have done was called 911. Everyone please be aware”

Since I am familiar with Marukai, this kind of tale shakes me up. I sure won’t let my wife go there anymore unless I drive her.

It’s a good thing the lady who wrote this has the good sense not to lower her window all the way down.

Can you imagine a con artist trying to entice someone with an offer to drive him somewhere?

If anyone told me that I’d say, “Hey, call a cab. The place you want to go is only about 10 bucks in cab fare.”

The mere fact that he was brazen enough to offer someone $100 is certainly a tip-off to his intentions.

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I’m sure a large number of you will be watching the Super Bowl this coming week, especially since Scott Fujita will be playing for the New Orleans Saints.

A Japanese American playing in the Super Bowl? Well, because of his name, we may all feel that way. However, reader, James Yokota wants to remind everyone that Scott is not Japanese, in spite of his surname. As James wrote:

“He is a hakujin, the adopted son of Ron and Helen (Caucasian) Fujita, who was born in Ventura and raised in Camarillo. He attended Rio Mesa High in Oxnard and is a walk-on player at Cal .

He was an academic All-Pac 10 and received his BA and MA degree in Education.

Fujita is 6-5 and weighs 250 pounds. He grew up in a traditional Japanese household, celebrating Japanese festivals and holidays and eating with chopsticks.

Because of his upbringing, he considers himself culturally Japanese. His grandfather is a 442nd RCT vet and his father, Ron, was born in the Gila River Relocation Center.

Scott wears No. 55 on his Saints uniform.

Perhaps if the Saints win the Super Bowl, Scott can yell out, “Banzai!”

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I would probably never mention this except for two words which caught my eye.

This piece is about a new sushi restaurant which opened recently in Thousand Oaks and located on Thousand Oaks Blvd. The sushi Chef is named Mitsu.

So what caught my eye as I mentioned in opening this segment?

Well, they serve Kumamoto oysters. Although my Issei parents immigrated from Kumamoto, I never heard of Kumamoto oysters before. I’m kind of curious what Kumamoto oysters might. be. I’m not an oyster fan but my wife loves them, especially raw.

So, maybe one of these days, I’ll drive over to Thousand Oaks and let my wife try the Kumamoto variety of the seafood and find out what the difference is between them and regular oysters.

Oh, before I forget, the name of the new sushi place is Kanda Sushi.

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With all the negative publicity on the current Toyota auto issue, there hasn’t been a whole lot of publicity about another matter involving Japanese-made cars.

That is the U.S. government initiated “cash for clunkers.” Japanese carmakers were the big winners under the program. Half   of the 677,000 cars purchased through the “cash for clunkers” program were Japanese-made autos.

I wonder how many of the Japanese-made cars purchased under the program were Toyotas? And how many had gas-pedal problems?

What’s the old saying? “We can win for losing.” Or something like that.

Hey, most of you might have heard that Japan is now manufacturing what is called an “E-Bike.” It’s a bicycle with an electric motor which the rider can use when going uphill when it’s tough to physically pump the bike.

It can get about 1.5 miles on a single charge of its battery and will sell in the U.S. for $2,200.

All the rider has to do is push a button on the handlebar to get the 250-watt motor to kick in.

The Japanese say that this new invention will help people to abandon their cars and cut down on pollution.

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Well, here’s today’s laugher involving a fellow name George. No, not me. Here it is:

An 85-year old man goes for a physical. All of his tests come back with normal results. The doctor says, “George, everything looks great. How are you doing mentally and emotionally? Are you at peace with God?

George replies, “God and I are tight. He knows I have poor eyesight so He’s fixed it so when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, poof!, the light goes on. When I’m done, poof!, the  light goes off.”

“Wow, that’s incredible,” the doctor says.

A little later in the day, the doctor calls George’s wife. “Ethel, he says, George is doing fine! But I had to call you because I am in awe of his relationship with God. Is it true that he gets up during the night and poof!, the light goes on in the bathroom and when he’s done, poof!, the light goes off?”

“Oh, my God! exclaims Ethel, “He’s peeing in the refrigerator again.”

And a little story with a moral to it:

A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of the tree,” sighed the turkey, “but I haven’t got the energy.”

“Well, why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings?” replied the bull. It’s full of nutrients.”

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found it actually gave him enough strength to reach the lowest ranch on the tree.

The next day, after eating more dung, he reached the second branch.

Finally, after a fourth night, the turkey proudly perched at the top of the tree.

He was promptly spotted by a farmer, who shot him out of the tree.

The moral of the story: Bulls— might get you to the top but it won’t keep you there.

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may 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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2 Comments

  1. you had discussed oysters last week, specifically kumamoto oysters. In simple terms, and I am only a simple eater, this strain originated in Kumamoto, Japan and many years ago, seeds were started in the pacific northwest and became a popular cultivated crop of Puget Sound and along the coast from Washington down to northern California. Apparently the original strain was lost due to pollution of the Japanese waters where Kumamoto oysters were grown. So they are aquaculture farmed mainly in Washington state but kept the Kumamoto name. They are very popular wherever raw oysters on the half shell are served in better restaurants. Smaller but sweet with its unique texture many describe it as succulent

    I am no expert and this is just off the top of my head from reading notes in the menu when ordering oysters.

    Really enjoy your column and seeing you around Gardena, usually restaurants like Azuma. One of the topics that brought a smile to my face was when you ran a few columns about the nicknames the niseis often had. My father, Toshi Igasaki was in the 9th St Produce Market at Eagle Produce. Growing up I knew my dad as “Eggs” since that’s what everyone called him. There were so many interesting nicknames then – I guess we (the kids and grandkids) are too sophisticated, too educated to have those kind of handles. Some names of the market – a friend Fishy Tsukuno, Hump Tsuji, and assorted Blackies, Piney or Pineapple, Baca Joe, etc. my uncle Masao Igasaki was a lawyer in Little Tokyo in the 30s to the 60s but to all of us he was always Uncle Moe Can you imagine introducing these men to their grandkid’s friends – this is Eggs, Fishy, Hump, Pineapple, Baca Joe, Uncle Moe wadda blast
    Sorry to ramble, but that is the enjoyment of your column – the talent to ramble on about so many things pertinent to the JA experience.
    I’ll make it a point to say hello next time I see you in the So Bay Since it is usually around food, I didn’t want to interrupt your meal But next time I’ll check to see if you’ve ordered oysters.
    Howard Igasaki Torrance

  2. you had discussed oysters last week, specifically kumamoto oysters. In simple terms, and I am only a simple eater, this strain originated in Kumamoto, Japan and many years ago, seeds were started in the pacific northwest and became a popular cultivated crop of Puget Sound and along the coast from Washington down to northern California. Apparently the original strain was lost due to pollution of the Japanese waters where Kumamoto oysters were grown. So they are aquaculture farmed mainly in Washington state but kept the Kumamoto name. They are very popular wherever raw oysters on the half shell are served in better restaurants. Smaller but sweet with its unique texture many describe it as succulent
    I am no expert and this is just off the top of my head from reading notes in the menu when ordering oysters.

    Really enjoy your column and seeing you around Gardena, usually restaurants like Azuma. One of the topics that brought a smile to my face was when you ran a few columns about the nicknames the niseis often had. My father, Toshi Igasaki was in the 9th St Produce Market at Eagle Produce. Growing up I knew my dad as “Eggs” since that’s what everyone called him. There were so many interesting nicknames then – I guess we (the kids and grandkids) are too sophisticated, too educated to have those kind of handles. Some names of the market – a friend Fishy Tsukuno, Hump Tsuji, and assorted Blackies, Piney or Pineapple, Baca Joe, etc. my uncle Masao Igasaki was a lawyer in Little Tokyo in the 30s to the 60s but to all of us he was always Uncle Moe Can you imagine introducing these men to their grandkid’s friends – this is Eggs, Fishy, Hump, Pineapple, Baca Joe, Uncle Moe wadda blast
    Sorry to ramble, but that is the enjoyment of your column – the talent to ramble on about so many things pertinent to the JA experience.

    I’ll make it a point to say hello next time I see you in the So Bay Since it is usually around food, I didn’t want to interrupt your meal But next time I’ll check to see if you’ve ordered oysters.
    Howard Igasaki Torrance

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