HORSE’S MOUTH: There’s Always a First Time


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on October 9, 2010.)


Well, in about four weeks we’ll have a new governor sitting in Sacramento.

As of this writing, the polls seem to have the race between Whitman and Brown almost deadlocked.

Brown may have gained a slight edge after the breaking news about Whitman’s firing her housekeeper because she learned that the housekeeper was an illegal immigrant.

It’s kind of mind-boggling to think than an illegal immigrant will decide who will be the next Governor of California.

Everyone knows I’m a Republican so it’s assumed that I will vote for Whitman. Wrong.

However, I won’t vote for Brown either, which means, of course, that I won’t cast a vote in the November election.

Of course, I don’t think my one vote either way will sway the election, but I can’t see casting a vote when either candidate doesn’t seem like the proper person to sit in as the Governor of our great State.


This past Wednesday, with nothing else to do, I was thinking about going to Hollywood Park to watch the horses run.

However, with the forecast for heavy rain predicted, I decided it would be better sitting in my living room thinking about what I could write about in my Saturday column.

Well, I made the right choice. For the first time in the history of Hollywood Park, racing was canceled because of the heaving downpour. At least in my memory, I can’t recall racing being canceled because of the weather.

Hey, this is Southern California. I’m sure folks from other sections of the country, who bet online were amazed when they heard racing in California was canceled because of…rain.

Oh well, I probably saved a few bucks. At least that’s what my wife said. And, of course, she suggested that I take her out to dinner with the money I didn’t lose.

No, it wasn’t McDonald’s.


Got to throw in a plug for Logen Okuda of Peninsula High School who rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns on eight carriers in his team’s 28-14 non-league win over Lawndale High which snapped his team’s 14-game losing streak.

The Japanese American gridder is the star of Peninsula High’s team and it goes without saying, perhaps a future college star?

While chatting on the subject of sports, I became a fan of the U.S. Air Force Academy football team when my son was a Cadet at the Colorado Springs school.

Needless to say, there weren’t too many years that I was cheering for a winning team, although they had some good years.

Who would ever imagine that one day, the Air Force team would be ranked head of USC and UCLA? It happened this past week when the newest rankings were released.

Air Force is ranked No. 25. Both the Trojans and Bruins are lower than No. 25.

I think the Falcons (Air Force’s nickname) should be rated higher than 25.

They lost to Oklahoma by two points (28-26) two weeks ago and the Sooners are ranked 7th.

And Oklahoma beat Texas by a wider margin than they did the Air Force. In pre-season rankings, Texas was in the top ten.

So, I feel that Air Force should be in the top 20, not in the 25th position.

Oh well.


According to a news item I read in the Honolulu Advertiser, the Kilauea volcano on the Island of Hawaii is pouring lava into the ocean after it erupted.

Those from the Island State refer to the Island of Hawaii as the “Big Island.”

That’s because in size, it is larger than Maui, Oahu, Kauai and Molokai.

And the Island of Hawaii won’t ever lose its title to the other four Islands because every time Kilauea pours lava into the ocean, the Island keeps getting bigger in size.

Just a thought.


Another thought.

Ever since the eviction of Japanese Americans during World War II, a lot of new names became part of our vocabulary. Mostly because of the 10 camps which were built to house the JAs. I mean, whoever heard of names like Manzanar, Heart Mountain, Topaz, Tule Lake, Gila, Poston, Amache, Jerome, Rohwer and Minidoka?

However, how many of us ever thought about what the names of the camps meant?

Yes, most were given the name because they were built in areas which had the names.

But what about the name, Manzanar?

Yes, there is a town near the former Relocation Camp, but how many of you know that Manzanar is the Spanish word for “apple orchard” developed as an agricultural settlement beginning in 1910? Farmers grew apples, pears, peaches, potatoes and alfalfa on several thousand acres surrounding the town.

The Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power began acquiring water rights in the valley in 1905 and completed the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913.

Land buy-outs continued in the 1920s and by 1929, Los Angeles owned all of Manzanar’s land and water rights. Within five years, the town was abandoned as were the trees.

And, of course, we all know what happened when World War II started.

The foregoing information was sent to me by Alisa Lynch of the Manzanar Committee. Found it kind of interesting.

I wonder if anyone can come up with a similar history for all the other campsites.

Maybe Bacon Sakatani, one of the organizers and leaders of Heart Mountain camp reunions, can dig up some of the past history of the Wyoming site.


The grand opening of the San Jose’s Japanese American Museum is set for Oct. 16. I was extended an invitation to attend the event but I’m not sure if I can make it. Same old excuse, my health problems.

I sure would like to be on hand because I know that it will draw a large gathering. I’m sure I’ll be able to meet a lot of old friends, some of whom I haven’t seen since evacuation, took me away from the area.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I grew up in the San Jose area and Later in Mountain View.

I know with the passing of so many years, a lot of my old friends have  left us, but I’m sure there are still a lot of them around that I’d like to renew acquaintances with during the Museum opening.

San Jose’s Japantown was just that. A real Japantown.

They even had their own baseball stadium, a few blocks from Japantown where the San Jose Asahi baseball team played every Sunday.

I recall going to the game which always had an attendance of several hundred fans.

As a youngster, I felt like I was watching a Major League game. They used to draw crowds of 200 fans, all Issei and Nisei.


I opened today’s column chatting about the Nov. 2’s election. Well, it’s not only the election for Governor and State Senator which is being held during this period.

What about at the school level, where they are holding election for student body offices?

I was reminded of this when I received a photo of a “campaign button” being worn by students backing Mary Antonovich, the daughter of Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Thought I’d toss it in today’s column because I think it’s quite attention grabbing.

Mary is running for the office of environmental affairs.

And, maybe, 20 years from now, for her father’s seat on the L.A. Board of Supervisors?


I know that most of us aging Nisei seniors talk about growing old.

Well, would you believe that in the City of Alameda this weekend, they are holding a conference on the issue of “The Sansei generation living to the age of 100.”

I guess we haven’t even given such a topic a thought.

However, with longevity getting to hit the 90s and even in the 100s for the Nisei, hitting the century mark for the Sansei and Yonsei generation may become a commonplace.

Perhaps some group in he Southern California area can put together a similar seminar about the future of the Sansei and Yonsei. It might be a very interesting topic to touch on.

Let’s face it, the average age of today’s Sansei is in the mid-40s and early 50s. It won’t be too long before the same might be said about the Yonsei and Gosei.

I know my Yonsei granddaughters are in their mid-teens already.


Those of you who watch TV as much as I do, know that the numerous Indian casinos in the Southern California area run a lot of commercials on why folks should visit their facilities.

And, if any of you have visited any of the casinos and registered for “game cards,” you also get swamped with promotional mail.

They make offers that are hard to ignore.

However, I found out one thing about these so-called “promotionials.”

A Nisei friend of mine said he received one. It was a “scratcher card,” that guaranteed the holder at least $10 in addition to $10 for presenting the card at the casino. That’s a minimum of 20 bucks.

So, he found time to go to the casino and presented the card. He scratched off the card and sure enough, he won an additional 10 bucks. The top scratch prize was $1,000.

Well, he took the “code number” and punched it into his favorite slot machine. The machine showed he had a $20 credit. He decided he would punch the pay-off key and take the 20 bucks instead of playing it off in the slot.

This is where he was taken aback. When he hit the pay-off key, a message came on the slot screen. It told my friend, “The twenty dollar credit is only for playing the slot, no cash returned.”

In other words, it was almost worthless, unless he won any amount over $20.

So he played off the credits and left the casino. He wasn’t a loser or a winner.

Just the time and gas he burned up in his car to drive to the casino.

He told me, “Well back to good old Las Vegas.”


With the baseball season over for Los Angeles Dodger fans, I’m sure some of you may watch the other teams in the playoffs which will decide who will play in the World Series.

If the San Francisco Giants make it to the Series, it might set a new record.

That is, the first Japanese American to participate in the Series. That would be Travis Ishikawa, a reserve first baseman for the Giants as well as an occasional pinch-hitter.

I know that when a Japanese from Japan plays in the Series, it’s big news, but when the first Nisei plays in the Series, not much is said or written about it.

Of course, the odds of the Giants making it to the Series is a real long-shot but, hey, anything is possible.


In reviewing the past baseball season, the Dodgers were graded in every aspect of the game. You know: Offense, defense, pitching, managing. Put them all together and their average grading was a “C.”

One of the highlights of their past season was starting pitchers. They got a very high mark.

And one of those responsible for their achieving the high grade was Hiroki Kuroda. Will they re-sign Kuroda for 2011?

He hasn’t made any definite statement about next season but it seems that he wants to finish out his career in Japan. Sure hope the Dodgers can persuade him to come back.

I guess it will be all about money. That seems to be the main issue in professional sports. Money. They players don’t seem to give a hoot whose uniform they are wearing as long as they are paid millions of dollars.


In the U.S. if a person is identified as a “gangster,” he is usually tossed into jail.

Kind of different in Japan. There was a recent story in a Tokyo newspaper about the City of Kobe approving an ordinance banning yakuzas or gangsters from setting up offices or owning homes in their city.


According to the police, yakuza leaders currently own about 30 homes within Kobe’s city limits.

Under the new ordinance, establishing offices or owning homes in a residential area or within 200 meters of schools is prohibited. Violations can draw as much as one year in prison or fines up to 500,000 yen.

The ordinance also prohibits real estate and construction companies from signing housing contracts with gangsters.

No wonder one such individual I know said he was considering moving to the U.S.

Won’t be something? People in some U.S. city carrying protest signs reading, “No gangsters in our town.”

Heh, heh.


Just when I think I’ve heard of everything, I saw an article about the Kellog Company serving Pop-Tart sushi at their New York Times Square shops.

Pop-Tart sushi is a combination of three fruit varieties rolled together in a fruit wrap and sliced to look like a sushi roll.

The owner of Kellog said, “We were able to see the passion from consumers for the brand. This is another way to interact with them.”

Well, I guess a lot of people raised their eyebrows when Mikawaya introduced “mochi ice cream.”


A 54-year-old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital.

While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked, “Is my time up?”

God said, “No, you have another 43 years, two months and 8 days to live.”

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a facelift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color and brighten her teeth.

Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn’t you pull me out of the path of the ambulance?”

God replied, “I didn’t recognize you.”


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


1 Comment

  1. George, even though you don’t think either candidate is worthy of being governor, surely you can see that one of the two will be worse for California than the other. So, vote!!!

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