The one event I regret missing during Nisei Week was the gyoza-eating contest.
I’ve always been fascinated by the competition, which is now a popular part of Nisei Week.
The reason I wanted to witness the competition was that after it was over, I wanted to chat with some of the competitors about how they felt after consuming so many gyoza.
Heck, I like gyoza, but if I consume five or six, I feel bloated. And these competitors down hundreds.
Oh well, maybe next year.
Touching on Nisei Week, I mentioned that this was the first year I wasn’t invited to the former queens’ reunion, which is held during the festival each year.
Em Yamada, former Nisei Week queen, organized the get-together and she always invited me because we’ve been friends for so many years. I met her before she became the queen.
I didn’t know it, but she retired as the organizer of the event, and whoever took over probably thought, “Yoshinaga? Who is he?”
Just a newspaper columnist.
It was invented by Keizo Shimamoto, the owner of a hamburger outlet in New York.
It’s a beef patty with a bun made of ramen. It was introduced in August at Shimamoto’s Brooklyn Smorgasburg burger stand. And on the first day it was introduced, it sold out because only 150 were made.
It was not revealed in the media story why the public became so demanding for the hamburger with the ramen on top.
Also there was no information on what one Ramen Burger costs.
Maybe if and when it comes to the West Coast, we’ll have an answer.
A couple years ago, I brought the matter of the conditions at Evergreen Cemetery to Rafu readers’ attention because the once-popular burial site for the Japanese American community was falling apart.
Reader Joe Kiyotoki rekindles the situation with the following letter:
“Mr. Yoshinaga, I am a longtime follower of your column, especially your updates on Nisei sports.
“I don’t know where to turn to but to you. The subject matter has nothing to do with sports, unfortunately, but you may direct me to the proper information source for my dilemma.
“I am a sole survivor of my family and both my parents are interred at Evergreen Cemetery. My mother is interred in the so-called special care area known as Wisteria and Father’s grave is in the general care area. Since I was not included in the inception meetings between Fukui and Mother, no doubt promoted by Fukui, I need to know what was exactly promised to her or what was the pitch to sell plots to so many unsuspecting Isseis.
“My reason now for being so concerned is that the special care area has for quite sometime been not so special, no different than the rest of the run-down condition of the cemetery.
“A section was devoted to this subject in your column in 2012. For starters, I will write a letter to Mr. Glenn Wong, president of Evergreen Memorial Care Inc., copying in Mr. Daniel Kubo, pre-need counselor, Fukui, with the anticipation of getting a response. Not very hopeful of this ever happening.
“You can head me in the direction of getting more information on the promises made to so many now-dead family members. Getting material on promises made is a slim or a long shot in your parlance, but any literature would help. Your newspaper may have included some publicity/promotion on planned Evergreen special care areas.
“Before my mother’s death, she was so proud to be interred at Wisteria special care. What would be her response today along with all the others flummoxed into buying from hard-earned money?”
Thanks for your letter, Joe. I am sure it will stir up others who will respond to your writing.
Ray Kawaguchi emailed me the following, which he tagged with the headline “Not All Thieves Are Stupid”:
“Some people left their car in the long-term parking in San Jose while they were away and someone broke into the car. Using the information on the car’s registration in the glove compartment, they drove the car to the owner’s home in Pebble Beach and robbed it.
“So I guess if we are going to leave a car in long-term parking, we should not leave the registration/insurance cards in it, nor your remote garage door opener. This gives us something to think about with all our new electronic technology.
“In another situation, someone had his car broken into while he was at a football game. The car was parked adjacent to the football stadium in a space that was allotted to the fans. Things stolen from the car included a garage door opener, some money and a GPS.
“The thieves used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage door opener to gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game and knew what time the game was scheduled to end, so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house.
“It appeared they brought a truck to empty the house of its contents.
“Cell phones: A lady has now changed her habit of how she lists her name to her cell phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag, which contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc., was stolen. Twenty minutes later, when she called her husband from a pay phone telling him what happened, the husband said, ‘I received your text message asking about our PIN number.’
“When they rushed down to the bank, the bank told them all the money was already withdrawn. The thief had actually used the stolen cell phone to text ‘Hubby’ from the contact list and got hold of the PIN number. Within 20 minutes, he had withdrawn all the money from the bank account.”
Gee, the foregoing sounds like something that could never happen, but I am told it is a common practice by criminals, so let us be more aware of our personal belongings.
Well, since publishing the piece I wrote last week about the quality of my column falling apart as told to me by a friend — no, I won’t mention his name again — I continue to get emails on the issue.
So I guess I will toss in another one from reader Tak Yamashita, who wrote:
“Forget your critics. You and only you know when your mind and body tell you it is time to retire.
“I suggest you continue to write until you know you no longer enjoy writing and wish to pursue other interests. I believe keeping mentally and physically active is important for one to maintain quality of life. I enjoy reading your column in The Rafu.”
Thanks Tak. I will follow your advice and keep hammering away. Heck, I wouldn’t know what to do if I gave up writing.
Yeah, I could spend more time in Vegas.
Needless to say, we all drive cars. And unlike the old days, all of our cars are equipped with air conditioners.
Well, a reader emailed me something about air conditioners I never knew.
The reader’s piece is entitled “This is one for all to read and then share. Might help save a life.” It goes like this:
“Now this is very interesting. My car’s manual says to roll down the windows to let out all the hot air before turning on the air conditioning. Why?
“No wonder more folks are dying from cancer than ever before. We wonder where this stuff comes from, but here is an example that explains a lot of the cancer-causing incidents.
“Many people are in their cars the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, seven days a week.
“Please pass this on to as many people as possible. Guess it’s not too late to make some changes.
“Here’s why: According to research, the car’s dashboard, seats, AC ducts, in fact all of the plastic objects in our vehicle emit benzene, a cancer-causing toxin.
“Take the time to observe the smell of heated plastic in your car when you open it.
“In addition to causing cancer, benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood cells. Prolonged exposure can cause leukemia and increases the risk of some cancers. It can also cause miscarriages in pregnant women.
“A car parked indoors with windows closed will contain 400-800 mg of benzene, eight times the acceptable level.
“If parked outdoors in the sun, at a temperature above 60 degrees, the benzene level goes up to 2,000-4,000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level. People who get into their cars, keeping the windows closed, will eventually inhale excessive amounts of benzene toxin, which affects kidneys and liver. What’s worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxin.
“So friends, open the windows and door of your car. Give it some time for the interior to air out before you enter the vehicle.”
As I write this column, I don’t know if the team from Japan won the Little League World Championship against the team from Southern California.
But I know that the Japanese kids are always on the winning end of the competition against other teams from around the world, including the U.S. youngsters.
They certainly aren’t physically bigger than the kids from other countries. Yet year after year, they are always in the finals or one step away from the finals.
Could it be that a country with its own professional league — the only one outside of the U.S. — helps the kids mentally in preparing for competition?
This year’s team beat Mexico in the international division.
And Mexico, situated across the border from the U.S., is exposed to American-style baseball, so they should be considered a powerhouse.
Oh well, I’ll learn tomorrow how the Japanese kids did against the Americans.
Well I won’t mention her name, but she always sends me email that I can use in the “laugher” section.
Especially this one because of its opening sentence. It goes:
“You are on a horse, galloping at constant speed.
“On your right side is a sharp drop-off.
“And on your left side is an elephant traveling at the same speed as you.
“Directly in front of you is another galloping horse, but your horse is unable to overtake it.
“Behind you is a lion running at the same speed as you and the horse in front of you.
“What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?
“Get your drunken butt off the merry-go-round.”
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.