HORSE’S MOUTH: What About the Stray Pets in Japan?

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Reader John Matsumoto writes: “Horse, I’ve been reading your column for quite a few years and enjoy your laughers which you tag on at the end of your writing. I thought that, maybe, one of the these days you can open with the laugher to get your readers in a humorous mood.”

Well, John, I never gave your idea much thought but I figured, what the heck, why not?

So I’ll give it a try.

This one might be titled “Interesting Definitions,” and it was sent to me by another reader. Here they are:

Divorce: Future tense of marriage.

Criminal: A person no different from the rest, except that he/she got caught.

Boss: Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Politician: One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Doctor: A person who helps your ills by pills and kills you by bills.

Classics: Books that people praise but do not read (trying to read them since childhood).

Smile: A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Office: A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Yawn: The only time some married men ever get to open their mouths.

Etc.: A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Committee: Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

Philosopher: A fool who torments himself during life to be wise.

Heh, heh. I guess the last definition can be stuck on me.

So let me toss in another letter from a reader, Sharon Apker, who wrote: “Mr. Yoshinaga, I made it into your column once, so I thought I should test my luck again.

“In your column you constantly mention the Las Vegas California Hotel. I have dined there and ‘donated’ a few quarters (in their slots) but have yet to stay there. My norm is staying in quarters at Nellis AFB.

“Sunday night, March 18, I made reservations online for March 25, 26, 27. The print-out I received showed my credit card had been charged for the 25th (deposit). Also included on my print-out was ‘bed type, smoking preference and location requests are not guaranteed and are based on availability at check-in.’ My husband is a Vietnam vet with Agent Orange problems, including COPD.

“On Monday morning I telephoned the California. I spoke with Sally the reservation clerk. She informed me that COPD or not, I could be assigned to a smoking room. I had to take my chances. She did attempt to explain hotel policy. At this time I am undecided what my next move will be.”

Sharon closed her email by adding the following: “In reference to your driving in Japan, I was a U.S. Air Force cop stationed near Fukuoka, Itazuke Air Base Kyushu, 1960-1962. As a traffic accident investigator, I put quite a few miles on my vehicle. Question: How did you handle your first right-hand turn after arriving back stateside? I personally found the experience very traumatic, like which lane should I turn into.”

Well, in response to Sharon’s letter, let me touch on the first part.

Getting reservations in a Las Vegas hotel, be it Downtown (the California) or on The Strip, it is not always the easiest thing to do when it comes to getting everything the traveler seeks, especially in areas such as smoking or non-smoking rooms.

I don’t light up my cigar but I do have it hanging out of my mouth. So when I go to check in, the clerk at the counter will tell me, “You are being assigned to a non-smoking room, so you will have to get rid of your cigar.”

I respond by saying, “I don’t light up, so getting a non-smoking room is okay with me.”

On the other hand, a non-smoker being assigned a smoking room, as in the case of Sharon, shouldn’t be a problem if she doesn’t smoke. The cleaning ladies do a good job of getting rid of smoking material and the odor they may cause, so whoever enters the room after a smoker leaves wouldn’t really have that much of a problem.

Getting to her question about driving back in the U.S. after living in Japan.

I didn’t have any problem back in L.A., but in Japan, driving on the left side with the steering wheel on the right side was the biggest problem for me.

Yeah, I nearly got into a collision on numerous occasions, but fortunately, I escaped without a fender-bender.

At any rate, thanks to Sharon for her letter. I can understand her problem in making hotel reservations but I can assure you, the good folks at The Cal will go out of their way in an effort to accommodate her request. A lot of readers of my column are patrons at The Cal, and they all tell me that.

I don’t know how he got my name, but a fellow named Harvey Ross from Omaha, Nebraska, called me the other day and asked if I was the George Yoshinaga he served in the Army with during World War II.

Maybe he saw a copy of the Rafu in a Japanese restaurant in Omaha, or something like that.

Of course, if that were the case, he would have recognized my photo on top of my column.

I don’t think my face has changed that much from my Army days, nearly 70 years ago.

At any rate, I guess somewhere in the world there is another George Yoshinaga. Poor guy.

Needless to say, on the one-year anniversary of the quake and tsunami in Fukushima, a lot of media attention has been swirling around the date. A new wrinkle has been added in the coverage of the disaster.

That is, what about pet cats and dogs who were left without homes because the humans were too busy looking after other humans and not pets?

As a cat owner (three of them), I can understand the situation facing pets left without owners and homes.

Most of them are branded as “strays” and are caged.

With so many human lives lost during the tragedy, it’s easy to understand why pet cats and dogs are not receiving care in the disaster area, but nevertheless, when I read the article on the homeless pets, it was a bit touching.

Especially since a photo of one of the cats in a cage looked so much like one of our kittens.

I’m sure all of you aging Nisei have faced a situation that I just bumped into.

It’s about medications that our physicians prescribe for us.

So what? Some of you may ask.

Well, the other day, I was given a prescription that I went to fill at a pharmacy in Gardena.

As expected, the pharmacist told me, “Come back tomorrow and we’ll have it for you.”

I left without giving it a second thought.

But when I arrived to pick it up the next day, I felt like I was hit by a semi truck.

The pharmacist said, “That will be $365.”

I reached in my pocket and drew out a $5 bill and handed it to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“You said, 365, didn’t you?” I shot back.

“That’s right. Three hundred sixty-five dollars.”

That’s when I almost toppled over.

“You gotta be kidding,” I told him.

“Why do you say that? Didn’t your physician tell you what the medication cost?” he asked.

Naturally, I responded, “No.” I told the pharmacist that I would talk to my doctor and would be back.

He said, “No, if you don’t pick it up now, your order is cancelled.”

So begrudgingly, I had to pull out my checkbook and write the amount he asked for.

What’s this world coming to?

Three hundred sixty-five dollars for a bottle of pills!!

Well, as the Japanese might put it, “Shinda hou ga ii.”

No wonder the pharmaceutical companies are making so much money.

Yeah, it’s a good thing I was a little lucky on my Vegas trip last week.

For those of us who live in the South Bay area, the worse stretch of road is on Normandie Avenue between 180th and 190th streets.

It is full of bumps and uneven pavement that have been that way for the many years I have lived in Gardena. That is over 50 years¸ and nothing has ever been done to correct the junk roadway.

Yet, according to a recent report, San Jose leads California in bad roads.

Boy, I can’t imagine a city that has worse roads than the one I described.

In fact, Los Angeles does hold the second-worst road title in California, and I’m sure the street I mentioned adds to L.A.’s horrible ranking.

But wait, nationally, there is one city with even worse streets than Los Angeles.

Guess where?

It’s Honolulu, where it is said motorists spend $700 per year to repair damage to their cars due to the horrible conditions on its streets.
Aloha to you, too.

One thing that Japanese Americans have never gotten into, as far as I know, is getting tattoos on their bodies.

Well, by age and not ethnicity, Americans in the 30-to-39 bracket have the most tattoos on their bodies.

The survey shows that 38 percent in this age bracket have tattoos.

The lowest figures are for those in the 50-plus age bracket; 16 percent in this age group have tattoos on their bodies.

There is no figure on ethnicity where tattoos are concerned, but I can’t think of a single Nisei that I know with tattoos on his or her body.

Maybe it’s because tattoos are the trademark of the yakuza in Japan.

Most underworld gangsters in Japan are required to have tattoos signifying which yakuza group they belong to.

Oh well, just a thought.

Harry Honda to the rescue.

My old friend and the last remaining old-time JA journalist emailed me the following, entitled “Ten Favorite Japanese Expressions.”

Harry preceded the subject with these words: “Something that came up this morning, I thought I would forward to you — expressions you might find useful in your column. I like your recollections of old, as do the thousands of readers.”

Here’s Harry’s contribution:

“Life is full of ki-do-ai-raku, delight-anger-sorrow-fun, and some phrases slip out of our mouths repeatedly in response to different daily situations.

“Yatta: Say ‘yatta’ when you accomplish something big, receive a great opportunity or feel victorious. Passing a difficult test, getting the job you wanted or winning the lottery.

“Honto: Say ‘honto’ to confirm what you’ve just heard. Suppose your colleague tells you that she’s getting married to your boss. Respond to the news by saying, ‘Honto?’ What if your friend says that he’ll give you his car for free? Say ‘Honto?’ before saying, ‘Thank you.’

“A-sou-desu-ka: Say it every time your conversational partner provides a new piece of information. You need to acknowledge each bit of news by saying, ‘Oh, I see.’

“Mochiron: This is the favorite adverb of confident people. Using it when you’re 100 percent confident in your opinion.

“A, yokatta: Say “A, yokatta’ every time you feel like saying ‘What a relief’ or ‘Oh, good.’

“Zenzen: It’s a phrase denial. Suppose that someone asks you, ‘Am I disturbing you?’ when they’re not bothering you at all. Say ‘zenzen’ and shake your head.

“Nani: ‘Nani’ is a question word. It’s handy when you talk with a Japanese person. Say ‘nani’ when you don’t hear or understand what the other person said.

“Dou shiyou: Say ‘dou shiyou’ when you’re in a panic and have no idea what to do.

“Bikkuri shita: Say ‘bikkuri shita’ when you’re surprised.

“Yappari: I knew it would happen. Sometimes you have a vague suspicion that something will happen and then it actually happens. At times like that, you say, ‘Yappari.’”

Thanks for the Japanese lesson, Harry. Yappari, you are a help in Japanese and maybe this bit will help other Nisei who are not that great in the language.

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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