HORSE’S MOUTH: Mixed Martial Arts at 42 Years Old?

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

One thing about writing a column to fill one page of The Rafu twice a week is that oftentimes I forget what I chatted about and might repeat myself.

Yeah, after a couple of weeks, it’s quite easy to forget the topics I touched on.

However, good old Maggie, who types my column for publication, always tosses in a note at the bottom of my column noting, “Mr. Y., you already used the material previously.”

So, when a reader sends me a letter or email asking for information on something I wrote  two years ago, it is an impossible task. Such is the case of a letter from Jim Orr, associate professor of East Asian studies at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa. He wrote:

“Forgive me for writing you out of the blue. I am trying to locate an individual whom you may have written about a year or two ago in The Rafu Shimpo.

“The fellow’s name is something like Bobby Hari.

“I’m not clear on the last name as my informant is an older gentleman whose memory is not as clear as it used to be and he says he’s not sure of the name.

“The name ‘Hari’ seems to be abbreviated to me.

“He recollects that you wrote about him and his sister, perhaps in the context of them being Japanese Canadian Olympians.

“I haven’t been able to find any of your columns in which you wrote about them, so I am contacting you directly.

“I am a historian of modern Japan currently researching the origin of Little League baseball in Japan. A Little League got going at the U.S. military base in the mid-50s, but by the end of the decade some local Japanese teams got started playing with the hardball instead of the ‘nanshiki’ rubber ball that is more common in Japan.

“By the early 1960s, there were several leagues in operation.

“The Bobby Hari (??) I am looking for was a Mainichi Shimbun reporter who reported on Little League in the 1950s and early 1960s and was active in the foreign business community in Tokyo at the same time.

“I appreciate any help you can lend in connecting me with ‘Hari.’”

Well, I hope someone in the reading audience might step up with the information that Mr. Orr is searching for.

Oh yeah, since I wrote about it last week, I still remember the topic I touched on.

That would be finding ways to get the Japanese from Japan to learn more about the Japanese Americans.

I mentioned in my chatter about the Tokyo Cup Race at Santa Anita last week that a large contingent from Japan attended the event, and events such as this might be a good source for introducing the Japanese from Japan to our JA community.

Would you believe that only three days after I wrote about this issue, The Japan Times (the all-English newspaper published in Tokyo) ran a feature story with the heading, “Japanese Americans Continue to Grapple with Mixed Legacy”?

Unfortunately, since The Japan Times is published in English, probably few or none of the Japanese read the contents of the article that tells the story of the Nisei.

The article is about the memorial monument honoring the Japanese Americans located in Washington, D.C.

Featured in the article is the story of Grant Ishikawa, 93, a Nisei veteran of World War II who visits the monument frequently.

“He points out the row of stone panels, one of which honors the 20,000 Nisei who served in the war, including more than 800 who lost their lives.

It took 47 years for the U.S. government to apologize in 1988 for the wartime executive order that put more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into remote camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the year 2000, the memorial was built.

“In a gesture to the Japanese cultural roots, the monument is surrounded by a semi-circle of flowering cherry trees. These are the same delicate trees that line Washington’s Tidal Basin — a gift from Japan whose centennial is being celebrated this spring and one that has survived some of the worst years of the relationship between Japan and the U.S. In addition, the two struggling birds in the memorial are Japanese cranes.

“‘We are Americans, but we are proud of our Japanese cultural heritage. Both cherry trees and cranes signify our ties to the old country,’ said Gerald Yamada, 67, a retired U.S. government lawyer, who played a key role in promoting and developing the memorial project.”

As I said, the story runs much longer than the few paragraphs I reprinted.

It’s a shame that a Japanese-language newspaper in Japan can’t translate The Japan Times’ all-English story so that the Japanese in Japan can read it and get a better understanding about us Japanese Americans.

As Hillary Nakano, a Yonsei, said, “I’ve been to Japan five times and I found people were fascinated to meet a Japanese American. They didn’t even know we exist.” Nakano, a Californian who lives in Washington, D.C., said that when she tried to explain about the wartime internment camps, her peers in Japan had no idea what she was talking about.

As I mention from time to time, I buy California lottery tickets each week. That means I’ve been buying tickets for the past 20 years and the most I’ve ever won was 50 bucks.

Most of the Cal lottery prizes are won when it reaches over the $15 million mark.

This past week it was tough for me to buy my tickets because I buy them at the same place that the Mega Millions lottery tickets are sold, and when the Mega prize hits over $2 million, people being lining up by the hundreds.

Well, the prize is now over $400 million and the lines are even longer.

I kind of get a chuckle out of all the people being lured by the $400 million prize.

The other day I wasn’t in line to buy the Mega Millions, but to buy the California Super Lotto. They seemed puzzled by my response.

Then one of them said, “Why would you spend money to win $15 million when you could win $400 million with the same dollar bill?”

All I could say to that was, “I wouldn’t know how to spend $15 million if I won, so why would I be trying to win $400 million?”

End of conversation.

In reality, I really wouldn’t know what to do with even $15 million.

When we chat about money, what else comes to mind but Las Vegas?

Just read an article in the Vegas newspaper about what the average visitor to the city spends in the casino.

Would you believe $480?

That’s right. When a survey was taken recently on just how much the average person gambles in the casino, the figure came to $480.

That’s only a few dollars more than the average spent on hotel rooms, which came to about $395.

Since there are about 150,000 hotel rooms in Vegas, the profit from those renting accommodations is pretty good since most of the rooms are sold out.

Gee, casino players only spend $480. Heck, I guess I’m not too far off from that figure and I’m only a quarter slot machine player.

Kind of hard to believe.

The other day I gave Tiger Woods the Japanese name of Tora Mori, which is the translation from “nihongo.”

Well, a reader sent me the following:

“I read your 3/27/2012 comment on Tora Mori/Tiger Woods. There actually was a man named Tora Mori, a fencing champion in the 1930s. When he first came to the United States, he was referred to in the local newspaper as Tiger Wood. I have a very interesting VHS tape on this subject. If you are interested and if you promise not to mention my name and return the tape, I can send it to you.

“The tape is a really fascinating story and you’ll enjoy it.

“Tora Mori’s son participated in the U.S. fencing Olympics and coached. His grandson is a doctor at a local hospital.”
Thanks for your letter (no, I won’t mention your name).

Touching on sports as I did in the foregoing section of the column, I thought I would toss in the name of Roy Koyama.

Most of you may ask, “Who’s he?”

Well, Koyama is a 42-year-old resident of Camarillo (Ventura County) who is going to make his debut in the sport of mixed martial arts. That’s a sport that combines boxing with karate and judo.

What caught my eye about Koyama is his age.

As I recall, when I was employed as an inspector for the California State Athletic Commission, there was an age limit on boxers applying for a license.

For him to begin his career beyond that age limit would seem to indicate they have done away with restrictions based on age.

Koyama’s attitude is, “I just want to inspire everybody that it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s a state of mind and how much heart you have and show people that at any age one can be physically fit enough to do whatever you want.”

However, it wasn’t clear if Koyama would get a medical clearance to sign for his first fight. “I’ve worked my butt off to get this thing done, but this is typical in this sport,” he was quoted as saying.

Well, I hope he does make it and signs for a match in the Los Angeles area. I would like to see him fight, especially at age 42.

I boxed at age 36 in Japan and everyone said, “Yoshinaga wa toshiyori da,” or something like that.

In Japan, anything that is foreign is called by whatever name it is called in the foreign country of its origin.

Since the taxi cab is a foreign word, the Japanese refer to the cabs as “takushii.”

Well, when Japanese tourists visit New York City, they may still call a taxi a “takushii,” especially since a new fleet of taxi cabs will be introduced by Nissan, the Japanese automaker, in the year 2013.

As Nissan put it, “We will keep the color of the cab yellow, but change everything else.”

Needless to say, after its introduction in New York City, Nissan is aiming at introducing their “takushii” to the Los Angeles area.

I’m curious if the fare for a ride in a Nissan cab will be the same as in U.S.-made cabs.

Happy days….

• I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone.

• I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

• I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport. You have to be driven there. I made several trips, thanks to my friends, family and work.

• I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump and I’m not too much on physical activities any more.

• I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go and I try not to visit there too often.

• I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm.

• Sometimes I’m in Capable and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

• One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense. It really gets the adrenaline flowing and pumps up the old heart. At my age, I need all the stimuli I can get.

• I may have been in Continent and I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an old-age thing.

Not too funny? Try this one:

Sylvia: Hi, Wanda.

Wanda: Hi, Svlvia. How did you die?

Sylvia: I froze to death.

Wanda: How horrible.

Sylvia: It wasn’t so bad. After I quit shaking from the cold, I began to get warm and sleepy and finally died a peaceful death. What about you?

Wanda: I died of a massive heart attack. I suspected that my husband was cheating, so I came home early to catch him in the act. But instead I found him all by himself in the den watching TV.

Sylvia: So what happened?

Wanda: I was so sure there was another woman there somewhere that I started running all over the house looking. I ran up into the attic and down into the basement. Then I went through every closet and checked under all the beds. I kept this up until I had looked everywhere and finally I became so exhausted that I just keeled over with a heart attack and died.

Sylvia: Too bad you didn’t look in the freezer. We’d both still be alive.

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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