HORSE’S MOUTH: Honda vs. Toyota

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on January 19, 2011.)

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Since the Super Bowl is just over the horizon, I thought I would open by tossing in a letter from a reader name James Yokota, who wrote about a pro player I didn’t know about. However, I’m sure many of you know about him.

At any rate, here is James’ letter:

“Last year during the NFL playoffs, we were watching Scott Fujita of the New Orleans Saints. This year, keep your eyes on Haruki Nakamura, a 5-10, 200-pound, 24-year-old “hapa.”

“His father is Japanese with an 8th-degree judo black belt and his “hakujin” mother has a 4th-degree judo black belt.

“He is from Cleveland, Ohio, born in Elyna, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati and was drafted in the sixth round in the 2008 draft, the 206th overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens, and plays defensive back.

“If you want to keep an eye on him, he wears No. 43. He made an interception in last week’s playoff game win against Kansas City Chiefs though he fumbled on the same play.”

Thanks, James. I’m sure a lot of fans will be looking forward to seeing him in action next year.

Alisa Lynch, who is with the Manzanar National Historic Site sent me a news release via e-mail. She probably sent one to the editorial section, so this might be a repeat, but just in case, I’ll run her e-mail:

“Visitors will have an opportunity to explore a major part of camp life in a new exhibit, a mess hall.

“During camp days, 36 mess halls served three meals a day for up to 300 people, 365 days a year. With a peak population of more than 10,000, the scale of operation required to feed Japanese Americans and camp staff matched that of a small city.

“The mess hall is the first building completed as part of the ‘demonstration block’ called for in the Manzanar National Historic Site’s general management plan.

“Inyo County donated the structure, built at Bishop Airfield in 1942, to the National Park Service in 2002. The 40’-by-100’ building was divided into four sections to be moved to Manzanar. Eventually, the NPS received funding to restore the building and its 1941 appearance and develop the exhibit.

“Superintendent Les Inafku stated. ‘As I walk through the mess hall, I find myself imagining that I’ve walked in right at the busiest moment of a meal and that I’d better be careful not to bump into a cook or dishwasher. My great thanks go out to the former internees who provided us with the fine details about meals and the mess hall, plus the countless Manzanar staff and our creative exhibit designers and fabricators.’ ”

I don’t know if they went that far, but I wonder if someone familiar with the mess hall operation during camp days might design and put together a sample of a menu on a typical meal served in the mess hall.

Over the years, I guess with our fading memory, we might not recall just what we were served during our stay in camp, be it Manzanar or Heart Mountain and the eight other camps.

Thanks to Alisa for the e-mail and for the wonderful job she is doing with the Manzanar project.

I’m glad I was able to meet her at the Manzanar reunion in Vegas. She is such a charming person.

Thought I’d toss in this bit, just for kicks.

It’s another e-mail from a reader, who wrote: “I guess the rest of the Rafu staff doesn’t read your column. I saw your column on that young Sansei basketball player from El Segundo High, complete with her photo, so I was confused when a few days later the Rafu ran a full-page story on her. Just curious why they repeated what you had written.”

Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Actually, the Rafu staff writer did a more complete job on the young lady.

Since I did toss in the Manzanar story from Alisa, I thought I would add a bit about Heart Mountain.

Well, it’s more about the continuing debate on what to call the camps. A “concentration camp,” or a “relocation camp.”

As readers of this column know, I’m a “relocation camp” person. So, let me toss in a photo I dug up from my “relocation camp” file.

"Belles" girls social club of Heart Mountain

As I mention frequently, the younger guys and gals in camp formed clubs in most of the camps.

It could be for putting together sports teams or for just getting together to enjoy their social lives.

Here’s a photo of one such girls’ club, who called themselves the “Belles.”

They put on their “concentration camp” clothing to pose for the photographer, who I think was a guy named Horse.

The young ladies were mostly teenagers and hosted a number of dances (in the mess halls).

I got to know about six of the “Belles” although I don’t think they told the other members of the club that I was their friend.

Yeah, who can blame them?

By the way, in the back row (those standing), the third from the right was the city clerk for Gardena after we returned from the camps.

Which city would you guess is the most literate in the United States?

Well, according to a recent survey that ranks culture and resources for reading, Washington, D.C. is No. 1.

The others filling out the top ten are Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, St. Paul, Denver, Portland and St. Louis.

What surprised me more than the top ten was the bottom ten, the least literate cities. Five of them were in California—Santa Ana, Long Beach, Anaheim, Bakersfield and Stockton.

The study identifies worrisome trends consistent with other national research, including decline in newspaper circulation and book-buying.

One bright spot was the use of public libraries.

Oh well…

Most Nisei are getting on in years, which is probably the reason a story in the USA Today newspaper caught my eye.

The heading on the article read, “Walking Speed Appears to Predict Longevity.”

That is, the faster one walks, the longer one lives.

In an analysis involving 34,000 people ages 65 and older, faster walking speed was associated with living longer.

The most significant gains were after the age 75.

Of course, “slowing down” is associated with aging. By 80, walking speed is 10 to 20 percent slower. The findings say that for a workout, there are alternatives to walking. For example, climbing stairs.

Researchers are not advising people to walk faster, which could be unsafe. Some slow walkers could walk for a longer time.

The important point is that one’s body chooses the walking speed.

Glad I came across the article. Now I know I’m not the only “old man” whose walking speed has slowed down considerably.

Hope this bit of information will encourage others of you whose only source of exercise is walking.

Oh well, I’ll go back to my stationary bicycle.

At least, I won’t have to watch my neighbors laughing when I crawl around the block.

Maybe it’s the value of the yen, but according to Kyodo News, the year 2010 saw a 25 percent rise in foreign travel to Japan.

The number of foreign nationals arriving in Japan last year rose 24.6 percent from a year earlier to a record-high 9,443,671 due to the economic recovery over in Asia and the relaxation by Japan of visa regulations, government data showed.

First-time travelers to Japan also reached on all-time high at 7,919,679, up 29.4 percent from 2009, the Immigration Bureau of the Justice Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The number of foreign visitors topped 9 million for the first time in 2007 and about 9.15 million in 2008, but dived to around 7.58 million in 2009 amid the global downturn triggered by the financial crisis in autumn 2008.

When I read this article, I wondered if the U.S. keeps track on the number of foreign visitors arrival in our country. That is, does the U.S. break down foreign visitors by ethnicity as they do in Japan?

I so, I wonder how many Japanese visits the U.S. each year?

I know Las Vegas keeps tab on Japanese visitors, especially since the numbers have dropped drastically from 20 years ago.

Harold Kobata dropped off a copy of the Pacific Citizen’s Holiday Issue. Sorry I wasn’t home to accept it.

However, I did get a chance to thumb through 120 pages of the tabloid-sized publication. You read that right. One hundred and twenty pages.

If the PC is having financial problems, the Holiday Issue might have helped. I would guess that about 100 pages were advertisements.

Noticed that Rafu’s English Section Editor Gwen Muranaka wrote a two-page article in the Holiday Issue.

Well, since Gwen was on the PC staff before she joined the Rafu, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see her story.

The other bit of information in the issue was that the JACL will hold its first “annual convention” in Los Angeles this year.

Up to now, the convention has always been every other year.

There was no explanation on why they are going to a once-a-year format. Perhaps an effort to attract more new members?

I doubt if changing the number of conventions will have any effect on gaining new members.

The JACL has to return to its old policies to attract new JA members.

Hope I didn’t touch on the following previously because I’m getting to a point when I can’t find my glasses, even if I’m still wearing them.

You all know how I kid about taking my wife “out to dinner” to McDonald’s. The Big Mac costing what it does.

However, don’t laugh at people who dine at hamburger joints.

Did any of you hear about a “hamburger” place called Fleur in Las Vegas?

Well, the chef there, a guy named Hubert Keller, just unveiled a $5,000 burger. You read that right, a five-thousand-dollar burger. It’s dubbed the “FleurBurger 5000.”

What makes the FleurBurger 5000 so expensive?

Well, the chef begins with a Kobe beef patty, top it off with foie gras and black tuffles and a special sauce that is made with more truffles.

Does that make it worth $5,000? Well, it’s not just about burgers. The five-grand burger comes with a bottle of Petrus, the 1995 vintage dubbed “genie in the bottle.” The Petrus goes for about $2,500 a bottle. Kobe beef at $50 and $300 for the truffles. That puts the FleurBurger at $3,000 in real value.

Gosh, I would gag even at the $3,000 price.

Let’s see, a Big Mac is about three bucks. I can eat 1,000 Big Macs before I reach the price of a FleurBurger.

Well, maybe if I ever win California’s Super Lotto, I might give the FleurBurger a try.

Yeah, fat chance.

Hey, maybe I’m inching up in the world.

Never got an invitation to attend the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California’s annual installation luncheon, but that changed this week when the organization did send me an invite.

I want to thank Terry Handa, president of the JACCSC. It will be my privilege to join with the members of the organization for their installation.

The first Japanese car I bought was a Honda Civic because for the price and its quality, it was the best buy around.

A lot of Americans felt the same way and Honda cars was right up there with Toyota in the number of cars sold.

Well, in recent times, Honda has fallen a bit. However, they are hoping to get back on top when they introduce their 2012 redesigned Honda Civic.

The once popular car company is hardly a disaster, but it has been falling when compared to Toyota.

Details on the new Civic are still a secret, but the company said the new model will be completely revolutionary and will raise the compact-car standard for innovative  technology.

Honda’s share of the U.S. market last year was 10.6 percent, down from 11 percent in 2009.

Well, if what they say about the new Civic is true, maybe I’ll go back to Honda and dump my Toyota.

In the early days of Japanese import cars, I was leaning towards buying a Toyota.

The company, which was headquartered in Hollywood when it first came to the U.S., loaned me a Toyota to try out for a month, and if I liked it, I might write a column on its performance.

Well, I did take their offer and hoped to drive it for 30 days, including a trip to Salt Lake City.

My desire to own a Toyota ended on that trip.

I had gassed up en route to Utah and the station attendant who lifted the hood to check my oil didn’t slam the hood down completely. I wasn’t aware of his blunder, of course. Well, I found out about 20 miles down the highway.

All of a sudden, the hood flew open, broke loose and smashed the windshield.

I called the Toyota headquarters and they advised me to continue on to Salt Lake and they would send someone to take care of the car.

I came back on a Greyhound  bus.

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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