HORSE’S MOUTH: Sayonara to Baseball


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on October 5, 2010.)


As my wife and I sat in our living room watching the final Dodgers’ game of the season this past Sunday, it made us realize that time does fly.

Gosh, it felt like only yesterday that we were watching the opening day game back in April.

Oh well, one thing is for sure. We won’t be glued to the TV set with the season over.

Well, maybe I’ll watch the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs. As I noted in one of my columns, if I had to root for another team besides the Dodgers, it would be the Giants.

A little baseball note: Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki broke the Major League record this past season by getting more than 200 hits in one season over the past 10 years. Quite an accomplishment for the Japanese star.

Ironically, over in Japan, an American player in the Japanese league, Matt Murton tied Ichiro’s record for the most hits in a single season with 210 hits.

The former Colorado Rockies outfielder still has three games left in the season with the Hanshin Tigers so he could break Ichiro’s record.

Murton tied the record in the 141st game of the Japanese pro league season.


George Izumi who was quite active in the Japanese American  community a couple of decades ago, owned and operated the Grace Pastries chain of stores in the Los Angeles area.

A few of his pastry outlets were found in major supermarkets. I always made it a point to pick up pastries at his shop because his products were really great.

So why am I mentioning George now?

Well, he saw the two Letters to the Editor in a recent edition of the Rafu in which both voice their opposition to my stand on what the internment camps during World War II should be called.

He was interviewed on the issue a few years ago and he brought over a DVD for me to view because he is in agreement with me on the camps being  labeled “Relocation Centers.”

Too bad he can’t get copies of the DVD made and pass them around in the community because he makes some excellent points on why he calls the centers, “relocation camps.”

The one thing about George’s position is that during camp days he was in his mid-20s as far as age goes. That would make him among the older Nisei internees.

He pointed out the age issue because he also noticed that most of those being quoted abut the camp experience say they were 5- or 6-years-old.

In his DVD interview, George chuckled and said, “Heck, I can’t recall many details of my life when I was five or six.”

However, as one who was in his mid-20s in camp, he can recall everything he did while living in one of the relocation centers.


Another bit on the camp topic:

A reader named George K. sent me the following letter:

“Did you know that hard working and dedicated Bacon Sakatani and his ‘crew’ are already hard at work planning Heart Mountain Reunion XII for next year? It will take place where it all began, at the former campsite and also in Cody, Wyoming.

“This will probably be the final reunion. It is planned to coincide with the Grand Opening of the new Heart Mountain Interpetive Learning Center on Aug. 20-21, 2011.

“Plans are being considered in detail for bus tours, air travels, hotels, activities, visiting Yellowstone National Park, a hike up Heart Mountain and more.

“Everyone interested should save the dates and start their own plans for the reunion.

“These days, most of the Nisei are getting up in age and a year seems like quite a distance off.

“Bacon is a great organizer so I’m sure he’ll take the age of the Nisei into consideration when putting together the reunion package.

“Going to Wyoming is a bit more than the reunions Bacon put together in Las Vegas.”

Letter writer George K. also added a few more paragraphs about the Keiro Retirement Home. He wrote:

“I agree with Kazui Morikawa in regards to Keiro, that they do not seem to appreciate the needs of the seniors living in their facilities. I guess younger people cannot see what many older people are faced with in their day-to-day living, like taking a bath or trying to lift their feet high enough to overcome obstacles.

“There are some people who  would  really appreciate something like a walk-in type of bathtub. The first one of those that I have actually seen was when a mutual friend, Yosh Sogioka, had installed one in his house for his incapacitated wife prior to her passing. Certainly Keiro could somehow find a way in their budget for this when they are considering a pay raise for their executives. Speaking of bathtubs, whatever happened to all those bathtubs that the government shipped to Heart Mountain Relocation Center during its construction? I never heard of any blocks that had standard bathtubs (not homemade). I know that we never had one in upper Block One.  I was on the first train of evacuees (the worker’s train to get the camp ready) to arrive at Heart Mountain. Perhaps they were only for the Caucasian employees who had to live at the camp.”


Reader Makoto Kuwata sent me an e-mail that Editor Gwen might follow up on. Here’s what he wrote:

“There’s a lady who comes to the Gardena Valley Baptist Church that the Rafu might do a story on. She just had her 100th birthday last week. She looks terrific and her mind is sharp. She participates in a Tai Chi class three times a week. She lives with her daughter and her family and cooks and cleans for them. She is an amazing and nice lady. Her name is Mrs. Alma Watanabe.”

Thanks, Mako. I’m sure an interview with her would make an interesting story. At age 100, giving accounts of her life would surely provide a wonderful story.


With the illegal immigration matter now getting involved in the coming election for the next Governor of California, here’s an interesting story I’m sure many of us were not aware of.

It’s from the State of Missouri, often referred to as the “Show Me” State. The “Show Me” State has once again showed the rest of the U.S. how it should be done.

Missouri has no illegal aliens living within its border.

Missouri’s approach to the problem of illegal immigration appears to be more advanced, sophisticated, strict and effective than anything to date in Arizona. Do the leaders in San Francisco or the White House appreciate what Missouri has done? When are our fearless  President and his dynamic Attorney General going to take action to require Missouri to start accepting illegal immigration once again?

So, why doesn’t Missouri receive attention? Answer: There are no Mexican illegals in Missouri to demonstrate.

The “Show Me” State has once again  showed us how it should be done. There needs to be more publicity and exposure regarding what Missouri has done.

In 2007, Missouri placed on the ballot, a proposed constitutional amendment designating English as the official language of Missouri. In Nov. 2008, nearly 90 percent voted in favor. Thus, English became the official language for all governmental activity in Missouri. No individual has the right to demand government services in a language other than English.

In 2008, a measure was passed that required the Missouri Highway Patrol and other law enforcement officials to verify the immigration status of any person arrested and inform federal authorities if the person is found to be in Missouri legally. Missouri’s enforcement offices received specific training with respect to enforcement of federal immigration laws.

So while Arizona has made national news for its new law, it is important to remember Missouri has been far more proactive in addressing this problem. Missouri has made it clear that illegal immigrants are not welcome in the State and they will certainly not receive public benefits at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.

Are you tuned in Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown?


Even if one is not a diehard horseracing fan, I’m sure that the story of Zenyatta winning her 19th straight victory with her win at Hollywood Park this past Saturday caught the eye if one was glancing through the sports pages of the local newspapers.

I’m a racing fan so I have been following Zenyatta’s career for quite a while now. And the one thing I am curious about is how Zenyatta came to be named Zenyatta.

I guess if one is to break the name down in Japanese, it might be appropriate for an undefeated racehorse.

Consider this: If broken down in Japanese words, Zenyatta could be pronounced “zen yatta.” Translated in Japanese, it would mean “gave money.”

And Zenyatta certainly has given money to those who bet on her.

Sure, because of her great record, she only paid $2.40 for a 2-dollar win winning bets which translates into a 40-cent profit on a $2 bet but it sure beats losing.

It was probably one of the lowest payoffs for a winning horse in recent time.

Just curious how many people bet on Zenyatta to win? Since the odds were so low, I ‘m sure there were a lot of people betting on her.

Anyone who bets, say, $20 to win, would get a profit of four bucks.

Heck, I can do a lot better playing a quarter on my favorite keno machine in Las Vegas.

Of course, since I do put a lot of quarters into the keno machine, you could say I “zen yatta” to the casino.


A little add on the history of Atwater Village that a reader named Netty Carr brought to my attention.

After I mentioned it in my column, Netty said she received calls from some JA folks who lived in the area prewar. Here is her message:

“I want to thank you for running the Atwater Village history request in your column.

“Mr. Saburo Imahori called me today. He didn’t have photos but filled me in on a bit of history about his family’s nursery on Fletcher Drive.

“He told me about another Japanese family who had a florist on Glendale Blvd. They were the Takeuchi Family and had a son named Henry. Also, I believe that the other Japanese family that I had previously asked about who had the florist on Los Feliz Blvd., was the Toji family, not Togie. They had a daughter named Kazuko. It was so exciting to receive the phone call from Mr. Imahori today and I am so appreciative of your help.”

Glad to have been of service, Netty.


A while back, when the “Kaeru Kid” in his Rafu column mentioned my name in reference to the Raku Restaurant in Las Vegas, reader Jean Kato said she and her husband dined at the Raku and enjoyed a delicious dinner.

Guess if I can get away to Vegas soon, I’ll give the Raku a try. Hey, the restaurant sounds like the Rafu, doesn’t it?

By the way speaking of eateries in Vegas, reader, Mutsu Okada, sent me a menu from another Vegas restaurant called the “Bachi Burger.”

She said it is owned by a former Hawaii Nisei and the food is great. It’s located on East Windmill Lane, but I don’t have a clue where that is.

The map on the menu indicates that its close to Las Vegas Blvd., a street I am familiar with so I guess it won’t be that difficult to find.

Some items on the menu that caught my eye as I thumbed through were steamed Peking duck, pork belly buns, steamed short ribs.

Kind of gave me an idea of what kind of dishes Bachi Burger serves.


When I tell my friends that I still drive to Vegas they are kind of surprised considering my, you know, senior citizen status.

Well, a recent survey by USA Today indicates that 41 percent of people who travel, prefer to drive. About 27 percent opt to fly with 14 percent favoring trains.

I would assume that cost is one of the primary factors in the choice of travel.

By the way, I was surprised that bus travel was not listed among the choices.

I know that where Vegas is concerned, bus probably ranks right next to driving. At least ahead of flying.


Speaking of surveys, a recent survey indicated that the U.S. leads the world in fat people. I’m not surprised.

When I take my wife grocery shopping whether it’s at Marukai, Vons or Ralphs, I sit in the car while she goes inside.

To pass the time, I observe the folks going in and coming out of the stores.

The one thing that I observe is that most of the shoppers are overweight. Not just slightly overweight but just plain fat.

The survey found that one-third of the citizens in the U.S. (or 72 million) are roughly 30 pounds over a healthy weight. And obesity rates have skyrocketed since the 1980s.

The report indicated that obesity costs the U.S. an estimated $147 billion in weight-related medical bills.

On yeah, what about the country with the lowest rate of fatsos?

It’s Japan in both men and women. Only three percent of Japan’s population among men and women are overweight.

I guess that rice isn’t that fattening.

Another bowl of rice, please.


As one who does a lot of driving, I don’t have to be told that the Los Angeles area has the worst roads. What surprised me was that Ellay doesn’t rank No. 1 in bad roads. That distinction goes to another California city, San Jose.

In fact, of the 10 top cities with the worst roads, six cities in California rank in the top 10 “worst” list.

Yes, surprisingly, Honolulu ranks third behind San Jose and Los Angeles.

As far as the freeways in the Los Angeles area is concerned, I would put the 405, the Eastbound 10 and Long Beach Freeways among the worst.

The 110 or Harbor Freeway aren’t too bad.

Oh well, I guess we just have to adjust to the uneven pavement and potholes.


As I was about to shut down my computer, I thought I would glance at my e-mail list to see if I had any last-minute messages.

There were two. Both asked why people who don’t agree with me about the on-going controversy over the Relocation Camp issue (Concentration Camp) don’t write to me instead of “Letters to the Editor.”

Well, the writers probably feel they’ll get more exposure if they send their message to the Rafu editors than to me.

They may be right.


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


1 Comment

  1. I always enjoy your columns but this one is even better than usual. Keep up the great work, and know that your faithful readers support you in this faux controversy about the relocation camp name.

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