HORSE’S MOUTH: The New Nobu Hotel

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

I opened my previous three columns by posing a question to readers, so I guess I’ll do so with today’s opener.

The question?

What state in the U.S. has the best hamburger shops?

I would assume that most will respond California or New York.

Both answers are wrong.

Would you believe, Nevada?

Yup. Good old Nevada. Led by Las Vegas.

And the best known and most popular one in Vegas is owned by a Japanese.

The next time I go to Vegas, I’ll give his hamburger place a try to see what makes it the best hamburger stand in America.

Well this coming Monday is a holiday, so I’ll have to adjust my writing day.

When we have Monday holidays I don’t have to write my column on Sunday, but on Monday for the Wednesday edition.

Since I’ve been on a Sunday/Wednesday writing schedule for over 20 years, it’s not that easy to change my work pattern.

Oh well, maybe I should have asked Editor Gwen if I could miss a day.

This Saturday the Nisei vets will be honored in Little Tokyo, so I guess I’ll drop by.

Although I am a vet, I don’t participate in many of the activities held annually to recognize the contributions the Nisei vets made during World War II.

So this year, I decided to at least attend the J-Town event.

Maybe I’ll even wear the cap from VFW post that I am a member of. That would be Post 1961 in Gardena. I’m a life member, but none of the members even know me.

Oh well, that’s life.

That was a beautiful piece of writing Editor Gwen did on her wedding in Hawaii.

I wish I could have attended the ceremony, but her writing gave me a clear picture of the ceremony.

Hawaii is a very popular place for couples to get married.

At one time it was the top choice for couples from Japan to exchange their vows.

My youngest son was married in Honolulu mainly because he was stationed at the Air Force base there since he was an Air Force officer.

No, I don’t play the Powerball lottery, even when it reaches almost $600 million as last week’s did.

I’m satisfied playing the California Super Lotto, where the prize might reach as high as $50 million.

Hey, I wouldn’t know what to do with $50 million, let alone $600 million.

One of the ladies lined up to buy a Powerball ticket was asked what she would do if she won.

Her answer? Buy a new car.

Buy a new car with $600 million?

Heck, she can buy an auto dealership.

Oh well, food for thought.

A short email that made me think.

A reader who asked not to be identified wrote: “Here is some food for thought. I have a friend whose father is an Issei and the mother Nisei. What is he? Would you call him a Nisei-han? He really is not a Nisei or Sansei. The other thing is why a person called a Yonsei instead of a Shisei?”

Good question. I often wondered about it myself.

Thanks for your email. Perhaps some JA can come up with an answer to your question.

Having lived in Japan and worked for an owner who was Korean, the following article in a newspaper from Japan caught my attention:

“Angry protestors took to the streets in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district, home to many Korean shops and restaurants, describing Korean residents there as ‘cockroaches’ and calling for their immediate extermination.

“It was only the latest in a series of anti-Korean rallies in the neighborhood that have grown more intense in the past few months.

“Often spearheaded by the right-wing Zanichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai, which translates literally as ‘citizen’s group that won’t tolerate special privileges for Korean residents in Japan,’ these protests have raised eyebrows, especially for their blatant racism and outright death threats.

“Some experts say this trend reflects growing public anxiety about the rise of South Korea at a time when, despite the recent stock rise and weakening yen, regular people still fell mired in Japan’s economic malaise.

“Organized by a different nationalist group, the demonstration appears to have been carefully orchestrated and few liberal death threats were heard. Still the bellicose rhetoric remained unabated …

“A 25-year-old businessman from Tokyo who said he is a regular participant in such rallies said his repugnance toward Koreans emerged after finding what he described as the ‘ugly truth’ two years ago while surfing the Internet.

“‘Korean residents in Japan are often using a Japanese alias, so even though they commit a crime, their real name won’t be made public,’ the man, who asked that his name not be used, said referring to the main theme of Sunday’s protest.

“‘Traditionally, Japanese people have valued politeness,’ the man said. ‘But look what these Korean people have done all these years to castigate Japan. So I think it’s just that the Japanese people have finally learned to unleash their repressed anger.’

“Another regular participant, a 36-year-old man who declined to give his name, justified the protests as an ‘appropriate way to defend Japan’s national interest.’ He demanded ‘the media disclose real names of Korean criminals, otherwise Japanese people will be made a scapegoat for what they did.’

“Verbal onslaughts at the street level have long existed, but their frequency has drastically increased in the past three months, one Korean university student said.

“Zaitokukai leader Makoto Sakurai and other nationalists have argued that Korean residents of Japan receive preferential treatment not granted to other foreigners. This includes being granted the status of permanent residence and allowed to go by a Japanese ‘alias.’”

And the fight goes on.

In recent times, I have started to receive a lot of clippings about relocation camps, and since most folks know I was interned at Heart Mountain, most of the material is about the Wyoming camp.

The most recent one, a copy of The Sentinel, the camp newspaper.

I couldn’t read most of the stuff because the printing is not clear. It was a mimeographed copy.

However, one thing that was pretty clear was a display ad placed by the community dry goods store.

I guess we used to refer to it as a “grocery store.” However, they sold more than food goods.

In the Saturday, Oct.14, 1943 edition, the dry goods store was selling blankets, which nearly all internees needed.

The price for one blanket?

Would you guess 98 cents? Wow.

Of course, since those who worked in camp averaged about $8 a month, 98 cents was not that cheap.

Leather jackets, in the same ad, cost $9.95 and baby snowsuit, $2.10.

The store was open daily.

I remember buying a candy bar at the shop. I think I paid five cents.

Of course, I worked at the camp newspaper and my salary was $16 a month, so I don’t think five cents put that much of a dent in my pocket.

Yeah, when I joined the Army, I got a pay raise. As a private, I earned $21 a month.

Before entering the Army, I left camp to work on a farm in Worland, Wyoming, harvesting sugar beets.

My pay? How does 50 cents an hour strike you?

Ah, memories.

Speaking of memories, how many of you in the reading audience can identify the photo I’m throwing in here? It was taken in 1943 and I’m sure the youngsters posing for the camera are in their late 70s and early 80s now.

It’s not a real great photo, but it was printed in the camp newspaper and didn’t copy too well when I decided to use it.

A couple of faces are clear enough to be recognized, I think.

Those who might recognize the faces in the photo can email me or send a snail-mail to the Rafu office.

Hope to hear from someone.

I’m pretty sure a lot of Nisei deal in yen, the Japanese currency.

So what can you buy with, say, 100 yen?

What about a pack of 40 cotton swabs?

Or a backscratcher?

Or even a  picnic basket?

Well a 100 yen these days is worth about one dollar, so you do the math.

I have a thousand-yen note in my wallet, so I guess I can buy ten picnic blankets.

Heh, heh.

Okay, no column is complete without my mentioning Las Vegas.

I’d like to pose a question to readers.

I know most of the Nisei who go to Vegas stay Downtown, at The Cal, Main Street and Fremont Hotel.

However, how many of you have tried the new Nobu Hotel on The Strip?

Because of its name, it’s expected that it has a “Japanese touch.”

The head chef at Nobu is named Nobu Matsuhisa.

The famed Nobu Restaurant, the world’s largest, is part of the hotel with the same name.

Hotel rooms at the Nobu, if anyone is contemplating a night’s stay, are listed at $249 a night.

Maybe that’s about 200 bucks more than accommodation at the Downtown facilities.

Oh well.

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

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