Shinnen Omedeto

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

I mistook Gwen’s email so I didn’t write a column for this Saturday. Then my wife told me, “Gwen dropped by for your column.”

By the time I got the message, it was too late, but I thought maybe I’ll write one anyway. If Gwen can still use it, well, that will be okay, so I sat down and began pounding out this column.

With the year coming to a close and having to prepare for 2014, I guess I might as well keep hacking away.

Two of my friends said they were heading up to Vegas for the holiday season and asked if I was going. My response: “Nope, won’t be going until the second or third week of 2014.”

Reading about the number of people from Southern California driving to Vegas, I can imagine what Highway I-15 will look like. It was reported that 350,000 SoCal residents will be wheeling up to Vegas. I don’t think my wife and I wanted to be No. 350,002 fighting the traffic.

Maybe, I’ll just drive out to Arcadia to catch the races a Santa Anita. No more Hollywood Park, so I guess Santa Anita is the only option. Well, maybe I’ll reorganize the “former residents of Santa Anita Assembly Center” day at the races.

After a few of the reunions, I tossed in the towel, but received a few letters asking me to reorganize the event.

I’m kind of curious about how many former assembly center residents are still around. I was a teenager during our days there, so I can imagine what the average is today for former Santa Anita internees.

I’d like to hear from former Santa Anita residents to see how many are still interested in attending a reunion if I put one together again. I have lots of time on my hands and the Santa Anita Race Track would be delighted to host our group again.

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There’s no doubt that there are a lot of Japanese from Japan living in the Los Angeles area. What I am curious about is what these Japanese citizens think about our city of L.A. What makes me bring up this issue is that we know there are a lot of Americans living in Tokyo. What do these Americans think about living in Tokyo?

For one thing, those Americans who live in Japan don’t hesitate in expressing their views on living in that country.

I don’t think Japanese living in Los Angeles write their opinions of our city in Japanese newspapers; however, a lot of Americans do express their opinion of Tokyo and its citizens.

In The Japan Times, William Bradbury, a “gaijin” living in Tokyo, wrote that life there isn’t like it’s depicted in American movies like Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation”:

“Watching it again recently, I found myself getting slightly irritated with a scene that seemed inoffensive in my pre-gaijin days. In the sequence, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson are chased down the street by a man with a BB gun — the implication being that when traveling in Tokyo, crazy things will happen.

“In my mind, this random broad, wacky humor was unnecessary. Yet this is the image of Tokyo many have and feel comfortable with. We like cities to have identities as it helps us understand the world and create an image that makes us want to visit. Tokyo is storied as a land of gaudy lights, gonzo humor and unpredictability on every corner.

“But this isn’t the Tokyo I live in. Sure, the Robot Restaurant exists, but I’m not sure who would go there, other than the once to satisfy their curiosity.

“Once you get away from the rat races of Shinjuku or Shibuya, it’s been a surprise to learn what a chilled place Tokyo is. Sure, there are masses of people, but many avoid social interactions with strangers in day-to-day life. As a Japanese friend of mine who has lived all over Japan once said, ‘People from the Kansai area are like Latin people, but in Tokyo they’re more like Germans.’ …

“On my first day in Tokyo, I was with a Japanese friend and I remember a request I made: ‘I’m in Tokyo. I want to see something crazy.’

“Three years later, I don’t think I’d still be living here if that was all there was.”

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A side note on the potential signing of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A side note?

Yeah, in 2014, there’s going to be a race for the Los Angeles sheriff’s office and Paul Tanaka, the mayor of Gardena, will be seeking to replace Lee Baca.

The side note?

Well, if the Dodgers do sign Tanaka and he performs as well as he has in Japan, his name will be plastered all over the local media, and as Paul Tanaka runs for the sheriff’s job, his name will be getting a lot of attention from the same media.

Needless to say, this will be helpful for Mayor Tanaka.

Well, let’s wait and see.

Maybe pitcher Tanaka will toss a no-hitter for the Dodgers while Mayor Tanaka wins at the polling place and becomes our new sheriff.

Wouldn’t that be something!

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Just in case anyone wants to know, a hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii was ranked No. 8 on the world’s best hotel list, and in eighth place was a hotel on the island of Maui.

No, there were no U.S. hotels other than those in Hawaii among the world’s top 20 hotels.

Surprisingly, no Vegas hotel made the top 20. I find this kind of tough to believe.

Aloha!

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I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I landed in the hospital again this past week.

Yup. Took another tumble.

As my wife said to me, “You’d better use your cane when you go walking.”

When I used to see elderly men walking with a cane, I wondered if it was helpful in their getting around.

Well, from my own personal experience, I say, “Yes.” A cane really helps my aging legs. Who knows — maybe a wheelchair next?

One thing for sure. I don’t need a cane in writing a column. At least, let’s hope not.

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Since this is the final column for 2013, I’d better wish all of you who read my chatter SHINNEN OMEDETO. That’s “Happy New Year” in Nihongo.

In 2014, I’ll be hitting my 24th year with The Rafu. I sure find this tough to believe.

When I retired from The Kashu Manichi in 1990, who would have imagined that I’d still be pounding away on my keyboard for over 50 years, but here I am.

Because of my miscommunication with Editor Gwen, I’m going to be a little short today. Yeah, I know I often use this comment.

Hopefully I can fill all the space allotted to me during the coming year.

Let me try to get readers and the young staff to end today with a lot of laughs:

• Friendship is like peeing on yourself. Everyone can see it, but only you can get the warm feeling that it brings.

• First the doctor told me the good news. I was going to have a disease named after me.

• How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F-word? Get another sweet little 80-year-old to yell “Bingo!”

• My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I started. So far I’ve finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.

• Why do people say “No offense” right before they’re about to offend you?

• By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.

• The only mystery in life is why a kamikaze pilot wore a helmet.

• Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you’re wrong.

• I intend to live forever. So far, so good.

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

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