HORSE’S MOUTH: Queen And Her Court All College Graduates


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on August 17, 2010.)


I’m always curious if those who mail out scam e-mail think those who receive them are as stupid as they are.

I think I mentioned that over the past few years, I would get an e-mail telling me I have won millions of dollars and can claim the prize if I would provide some personal information. Needless to say, I hit ”delete” as fast as I can.

However, of late, the scammers are getting a little more clever. They are using the names of close friends as the “sender” of the e-mails.

How they connected the friend with my e-mail is the only thing which puzzles me.

An example is one I received yesterday. It started out with a “Hi.”

I was suspicious because every time this friend sends me an e-mail, she starts out, “Hi Horse.”

At any rate, here is the letter “she was supposed to have written.”

“Apologies for having to reach out to you like this, but I made a quick trip to London and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and credit cards in it. The embassy is willing to help by letting me fly without my passport. I just have to pay for a ticket and settle my hotel bill. Unfortunately for me, I can’t have access to funds without my credit card. I’ve made contact with my bank but they need more time to come up with a new one. I was thinking of asking you to lend me some quick funds that I can give back to you as soon as I get back. I really need to be on the next available flight. I can forward you details on how you can get the funds to me. You can reach me via e-mail or the hotel’s desk phone. The number is +447045749898. Hope to hear from you soon.”
It was signed with my friend’s name.

So, what was my first move? I called my friend at her home. She answered the phone.

So, I told her about the e-mail and she said that several other friends have also called her with the same message they had received.

No, she was never in London.

I guess the only way to track down this scam is to forward the number in the e-mail to law enforcement agencies. Let them track it down to see if they can locate the scam artists.

It’s kind of scary to think there are people like these scammers out there somewhere.

At any rate, all of you out there in readerland, please be alert about these phony e-mails.


One of my favorite events on my yearly activity calendar is the former Nisei Week Queen’s Reunion, hosted by Em Yamada, a former Queen and sponsored by Dr. Fred Kurata.

It’s held at the Japanese American National Museum on the same day as the Festival parade.

Em has been kind enough to invite me and my wife to the “invitation only” gathering.

I enjoy it because it gives me the opportunity to renew my friendship with Queens from the past.

In those days, I was able to meet the Festival Queens and develop the meeting into old friendships.

Nowadays, even though I meet the new Queen and her Court, they don’t know me from “Adam” as the old saying goes.

Of course, I was surprised when 2009 Queen Dana Heatherton said she reads my column. First time I’ve heard anything like that in many, many years.

Of course, meeting some of the past Queens also makes me realize how old I’m getting. For example, past Queen, Akemi Tani Sakoda.

Her folks used to own and operate a lunch counter at the old Kyodo Pharmacy in Little Tokyo. She was only a tot then and she used to call me, “Oji-san” (old man).

Gee, if she called me “Oji-san 50 years ago, no need to say how old that makes me feel now. I’m really an “oji-san” now.

Even though it’s not a large gathering, the food Em prepares is one of the great features of the Queen’s Reunion. It’s catered by Cherrystone in Gardena. Whenever I learn that Cherrystone has prepared the food, I know we are in for a great treat.

Everyone else seems to feel the same way because many people went for “seconds” at the buffet-style luncheon.

Another thing I know I can count on at events like this is that Archie Miyatake will be there with his camera.

Archie has been a “fixture” in Little Tokyo for many years and meeting him brings back a lot of fond memories of the old J-Town.

Since the luncheon was held at the JANM, I had to walk though the concourse from the parking lot and was impressed by the Tanabata Festival display. It seems to attract a lot of people.

They had a lot of concession stands selling souvenir merchandise.

It was a far cry from the old Nisei Week as I used to know.

Also had a chance to meet and chat with Hayato Tamura, President of the Nisei Week Foundation, which, of course, made me feel older yet.

When I first worked on the postwar Nisei Week Committee back in the late 40s, Hayato wasn’t even born. Now he heads the Festival.

Em gave me a copy of this year’s Nisei Week booklet and after all these years, I finally got my name in print.

No, it wasn’t a story about me. It was a feature on the late Kats Kunitsugu, who served not only Nisei Week but the Japanese community for many years.

In writing about her life, her career as a journalist was touched on. She was the editor of the English section of the Kashu Mainichi where I also worked.

In a couple of paragraphs, the story on Kats read, “George Yoshinaga, a Rafu columnist, who worked many years with Kunitsugu, first at Crossroads and later at Kashu Mainichi said that Kats was an important influence in his journalism career.

‘The one that helped me last this long as a newspaper person was when Kats once told me, “Horse, don’t take yourself too seriously.” That piece of advice carried through these over 60 years as a writer and I shall forever remember her for her wisdom. Being her friend was an important facet in my life.’”

Yes, and it finally got my name in a Nisei Week booklet.


The news about the tour bus accident which killed three Japanese tourists last week made the headlines in the media.

The driver of the bus was also a Japanese, who lived in Las Vegas. He may be charged with negligence in the accident because according to reports, he was alleged to have fallen asleep at the wheel of the bus just before it ran off the road and overturned.

This is possible if the reports are accurate.

He was reported to have driven from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to pick up the tourists and then headed for Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, when the accident occurred.

That means he was behind the wheel of the bus for at least 11 hours. Even though he is only 26 years of age, that’s a lot of hours to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.

I know I’m almost four times as old as the bus driver so I might get tired more quickly than 11 hours but I also am aware of when I have to pull over and take a quick nap.

In recent years when I drive to Vegas from Gardena, I stop about three times for a 20-minute nap each time.

Of course, when I was 26, I could drive to San Francisco from Los Angeles, roundtrip without resting, but I have to admit I “pushed” myself a little bit.

Mikuni said that he did get some sleep but driving 11 hours may have exhausted him.

Some of the passengers involved in the accident told investigators they were worried because the bus was veering off occasionally.

Needless to say, the incident on the accident is being thoroughly investigated.


Speaking of Vegas, would you believe that the place they often refer to as “Sin City” is now considered as a family-oriented place to visit?

As one family spokesman said, “Vegas is a perfect place for families with kids.”

About 200 members of a family arrived from California, Arizona and Nevada for a reunion recently.

As odd as it may sound, the adult-oriented theme of Vegas has stopped other families from holding reunions in the City.

Children enjoy visiting Hoover Dam, while teenagers visit places like Treasure Islands’ pirate show, the Secret Garden at The Mirage and the roller coaster at New York-New York.

A travel agent commented, “There’s a lot to do in Vegas other than gambling. It’s a very kid friendly City.”

Phyllis Harris of California who visits Vegas frequently said, “It’s a great money saver. Costs are limited, food is reasonable, rooms are affordable and it has all the amenities you need. It’s easy to fit into everyone’s budget and that’s what really sold me.”

A spokesman for Harrah’s said, “We are getting more and more calls from groups wanting to celebrate occasions with us and they were looking for some kind of help with planning. I think this went hand and hand with some changes in the economy.”

Well, I guess those of us who think only of the slot machines and table games better begin looking at some of the other features offered by Vegas.

I know when my kids were growing up my wife and I never imagined taking them to Vegas.

We did once and thought it was a horrible experience for them because we didn’t know where to take them. I think we ended up at Circus-Circus because the name seemed to indicate they offered more than gaming.

Kind of amusing that nowadays my kids, all grown-up adults, think more about patronizing the casino games more than my wife and I.


It didn’t make the media here in Southern California, but one of the stories in the Northern California newspapers was about a former San Jose reserve police officer being charged with the murder of his mother. He was alleged to have killed his 65-year-old mother, a Nisei named Carolyn Ninomiya.

So far, no motive has been established for the crime.

Just thought this tidbit of news might be of some interest to the readers.


Oh, I forgot to mention it when writing about the former Queen’s Reunion but this year’s Queen and her Court made their appearance.

Each of them gave a brief chat about their background.

What really impressed me was that all of them were college graduates with degrees.

Can’t remember how many Queen candidates from “my era” were college grads.

It must have been a little more difficult for the judges to select one winner from the seven candidates because in giving their talk, they all seemed so “polished” in their presentation at the reunion.

Needless to say, they will represent the Japanese community well when they are invited to participate in various activities during their reign as “Queen and her Court.”

Since nowadays the Nisei Week Queen and her Court participates in so many events, it is great that we are represented by a group of highly intelligent and articulate young ladies.

I know, some of the past Queens, if they read my ramblings might say, “Hey, are you hinting that we weren’t good representatives of  the Japanese community?”

Naw. You were all great.

But don’t any of you give the past Queens overripe tomatoes if I’m in the same room with them.


I’m glad English Editor, Gwen Muranaka was at the Queen’s Reunion. She will give her usual great coverage of the event.

Too bad I didn’t have more time to chat with her. She just got back from Maui where she attended the memorial service for Nisei vets who lost their lives in the Korean War.

I wish I knew beforehand that she was going to Maui because I have a lot of in-laws (my wife’s family) living on Maui and they might have been interested in meeting her.

They might have even asked her (in pidgin English), “How’s da buggah Horse doing?”

She might have responded, “Da buggah writing like a 100 to one shot racehorse.”

Hey, talking about racehorses, when are the trainers at Del Mar going to realize that jockey Corey Nakatani can still ride.

Thus far at Del Mar, Corey has won four races, which isn’t that many. However, every one of his winners were long-shots, which means he’s not given the best horses to ride but is still capable of winning.

Well, let me put it this way (in pidgin English), “That buggah rides horse better than the buggah Horse’s Mouth writes a column.”

Enuff said.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.



1 Comment

  1. It’s nice to know “THe Rafu” is on line. The horse is very entertaining and have been reading his wisdom for many years. Don’t give it up !!!

Leave A Reply