HORSE’S MOUTH: The Price Of Admission In J-Town


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on September 25, 2010.)


LAS VEGAS.—I don’t know if the Rafu staff picked it up or not but one of the featured stories in the Las Vegas Review Journal the other day was about Paris Hilton being denied entry into Japan by immigration officials.

The immigration officials cited Japan’s law prohibiting those convicted of drug related offenses from entering Japan.

They questioned Hilton for several hours and then told her to stay in a hotel at Narita Airport until they interviewed her again.

She boarded a flight one day after she was charged and placed on one-year probation on drug possession charges.

She was scheduled to appear at a news conference in Tokyo to promote her fashion and fragrance line.

The thing that puzzles me about this is why the airline permitted her to board the flight in the first place. They must have known about Japan’s law related to drug possession.

The Clark County (Vegas) District Attorney, David Rogers, said, “We have no legal basis to restrict her from traveling throughout the United States or throughout the world.”

Excuse me. Didn’t the Clark County DA know about Japan’s law pertaining to convicted drug possessors?

Okay. Maybe Hilton should have changed her name to Tokyo Hilton. There are a couple of hotels in Japan bearing the name Hilton. The immigration people might have overlooked her drug record if she came as a Hilton hotel owner.


On my last visit to Vegas I wrote about spending my entire stay in a hospital. Needless to say, I doubt if anyone thinks about going to a hospital while visiting Vegas.

If a hospital visit is required, how does one find one?

There are 14 hospitals in Vegas according to a survey I did since my stay in one of them. However, there is a running joke about Vegas hospitals.

Here it is: “Where do you go for great health care in Las Vegas?”

The answer: “To the airport.” The implication is get out of Vegas if you need hospital care.

Now, I find that out after spending three days in one of their hospitals.

Well, in looking over the ratings of the 14 hospitals in Vegas, the Valley Hospital where I stayed was ranked pretty high so I guess it turned out OK for me.

No, I didn’t see any slot machines anywhere in the hospital. Maybe they should add some in the waiting room. I had to wait about an hour, so I could have passed the time away a lot quicker if I were playing a slot machine.

Hey, after all, it’s Las Vegas we’re talking about.


After I mentioned Manzanar official, Alisa Lynch, in one of my previous columns, I got a response from her the other day.

She wrote: “Just saw your mention of me in the Sept. 18 Rafu. Of course, I remember you. Who could forget that cigar?

“Just one correction: I don’t use the term concentration camp, nor have I done so in the past. I know there are many people advocating for it and it’s an ongoing debate/argument. We use Manzanar War Relocation Center, the historic name, as well as ‘camp.’

“The introduction to our exhibit says: ‘Welcome to Manzanar—Ever since the U.S. Army enclosed this one-square mile with barbed wire in 1942, people have debated how to accurately describe Manzanar. During World War II, it was officially called a “War Relocation Center,” while President Roosevelt and other officials on occasion referred to it as a “concentration camp.”

‘Every person whose life was affected by Manzanar has their own story, in their own words. We invite you to discover some of these stories and to ask yourself: What does Manzanar mean to history? What does Manzanar mean to me?’”

Thank you for your letter, Alisa.

Hopefully, one of these days, I can drive up to the former camp site and make you cough when I light up my cigar.


The California Hotel is holding its annual Seniors Golf Tournament this week which means a lot of golfers from Hawaii have an excuse to fly to Vegas to participate. That would include my brother-in-law from Maui.

Naturally, when we get around to talking about “back home,” (Island lingo for Maui), we eventually get around to the three former Maui baseball players now on Major League rosters.

I guess for a small place like Maui to produce three Big League baseball players is something to boast about.

We’re talking about Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies, a 1999 graduate of St. Anthony High School in Laihana; Kurt Suzuki of the Oakland A’s, 2001 graduate of Baldwin High School; and Kanekoa Texeira of the Kansas City Royals, 2004 graduate of Kamehameha High School in Wailuku.

I’m curious if any other area in the U.S., the size of Maui, has three former residents playing in the Major League.


Perhaps I’m living in the past.

This thought strikes me whenever I see a brochure about an event being held in the Japanese community.

What catches my eye? The price of admission.

I can understand the high prices for events which are “fundraisers.” However, for “just another” J-Town event admission fee of $50 or more seems pretty excessive.

I know we don’t live in an era of 5 to 10-dollar admission fee but $50 or more is something I can’t adjust to.

Maybe it might be that as a media person I can often get a “freebee” to cover the event, I might be a bit more sensitive to the price of a ticket when I have to purchase one.

Heck, even the discussion on the issue of “Relocation Camp” vs. “Concentration Camp” has an admission price of $15.

I thought it was going to be a no-admission charge event, but when I saw the price tag for tickets, I decided I’ll just work in my backyard to pass the time.


Tennis anyone?

That’s a frequently heard expression.

However, athletes who play tennis at the high school level rarely get the media attention that other sports receive.

This is even more so when we are talking about prep girl’s tennis.

All I have to do to make this point clear is to ask the readers, “Do you know who is Anna Tatsuno?”

I’ll have to assume not many hands were raised.

Anna Tatsuno of Peninsula High girls tennis team.

So, let me introduce Ms. Tatsuno.

She’s a senior at Peninsula High School and the number one singles player. Peninsula, one-time dominated South Bay prep tennis and the coach feels with Tatsuno leading the way, they may regain their top stature this coming tennis season.

I’m not a tennis fan, but when I read about the Sansei’s skills, I decided I’ll attend a few Peninsula matches.


There are times when I have nothing better to do (quite often) I look for news items which may be overlooked but might be of interest to Rafu readers.

The first one: Remember the bus wreck in Utah which killed three Japanese tourists and injured 11 others last month? Well the Iron County Attorney’s Office has charged the Japanese driver of the small bus with specific charges.

The driver, Yasushi Mikuni, a resident of Las Vegas, was arrested in Cedar City.

The Highway Patrol investigation said that the accident was attributed to the driver being drowsy while driving.

He was working for a bus company in Utah and studying at an university in Nevada.

The bus ran off the left side of the highway north of Cedar City on Aug. 9 and rolled over one and a half times before ending up on its top, killing Hiroki Hayase, 20, from Osaka and two other Japanese who were not named.


Another news item of interest that I have seen in the Los Angeles area media. It reads:

“Recently in the City of Dallas, Texas, they passed an ordinance that if you are pulled over by law enforcement and not able to provide proof of insurance, your car will be towed right away. Afterwards, to retrieve your car after being impounded, you must show proof of insurance to have your car released. This has made it easy for the city of Dallas to remove uninsured cars that are typically driven by mostly illegals. Shortly after the ‘No Insurance’ ordinance was passed, the Dallas impound lot began to fill up quickly and was full after nine days.

Most of the impounded cars were driven by illegals. Not only must you provide proof of insurance to have your car released, you have to pay for the cost of tow, a $350 fine and charged $20 for every day the car is kept in the lot.

I would suggest other cities across the nation follow what Dallas is doing. Not only is it getting uninsured drivers off the road, but it is taking away vehicles driven by illegals who have no insurance.

Let me add, “bravo,” for Dallas.


From time to time I like to toss in a quiz to test the knowledge of  Rafu readers.

It always surprises me at the number of people who get the right answers.

In fact, I used to offer a cigar to the people who got the correct answers but with so many doing so, I cut that out and just congratulate the winners by printing their name in my column.

I’ll print the list of entrees from the menu and those of you who want to enter the quiz can be recognized as a “winner” if you name the restaurant and the city where the eatery is:

Here’s the entrees: Tournedos Saute Chasseur; Liver and Bacon; Chicken Vol-au-Vent: Lamb Cutlet Princessee: Escalope of Veal Viennoise; Supreme Chicken Bergere: Spring Chicken Chez Soi: Entrecote Bordelaise.

Good luck.


As I do every year when the list is made public, I glanced through this year’s Forbes Magazine’s “Richest Men in the World” list which was just released.

When I first started to write about the wealthiest men way back when, being a millionaire got people on the list.

Not any more. The bottom of the 400 richest men is worth over a billion dollars.

The top man, Warren Buffet, is worth $54 billion.

Yes, there is one Japanese American on the list. His worth? Slightly over one billion dollars.

Heck, I don’t even know how many zeros follow the whole number to be a billion bucks.

By the way, will some of you math wizards out in reader land tell me how many dollars a billion pennies are worth?


From time to time I come to the realization that being a parent and a newspaper columnist presents a special problem.

As a parent, I am elated by the accomplishments achieved by my sons.

As a newspaper columnist, I find that I can’t write about the achievements because my sons always tell me, “Don’t write about it.”

So I can’t tell the world how proud I am about their attaining a lofty goal. I guess they may understand their father’s pride when their kids grow to adulthood and achieve their own lofty goals.

In the meanwhile, all I can do is to boast vocally to my friends at what my sons have accomplished.

Ah, that’s life I guess.


We all know somebody who has moved to Vegas as residents.

And, we also know that they were lured to Vegas because they used to visit the city as tourists.

As tourists, their main goal was to visit the casinos, be it Downtown or on the Strip.

Well, there was a story in one of the local newspapers that these folks, who moved to Vegas, changed their attitude about the city.

Yes, they do occasionally visit the casino but that is not their main objective.

They like to have breakfast, lunch or dinner because all the casinos/hotels have outstanding dining facilities.

I know one person who made the move from Los Angeles to Vegas about 10 years ago. I see the person when I stay downtown at The Cal and the individual is usually there for breakfast.

“You can’t beat the prices,” was the explanation given to me when I see the person dining at the Market Street Cafe at The Cal.

I agree. Of course, since I’m an “out of town” visitor, my first objective is to play in the casino, but I, too, like to take advantage of the not-too-expensive dining facilities available.

Heck, when I can get miso soup if I do desire, what more can I ask for? Yes, for their buffet breakfast, I can have rice instead of potatoes, if I so desire.


Hey, the horse made the headlines in the Vegas Sun Journal. No, not this “horse.”

It was a horse that Jim Gibbons, the Governor of Nevada, was riding at his ranch located near Reno. He fell off and was injured. Not sure what caused the governor to fall off the horse.

In the meanwhile, this “horse” was ready to fall off the stool in front of my favorite slot machine.


My niece’s husband is a die-hard San Francisco Giants baseball fan. He and my niece have season tickets to all of the Giants’ home games. Naturally, we always kid each other about the Giants and Dodgers.

This year, with the season winding down, he’s rooting for the Dodgers no matter whom they play except for his Giants.

That’s because if the Dodgers can beat San Diego, the Giants have a shot at the World Series.

However, even though he is cheering the Dodgers on, he told me the other day, “Gee, I didn’t think the Dodgers stunk so much.”

I dig you, Richard, the Dodgers stink. In fact, I said that long before they were eliminated from the postseason playoffs.

I even gave them a name. I call them the “Natto Dodgers.”


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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