HORSE’S MOUTH: Meeting Unknown Relatives in Japan

0

YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

In this past Sunday’s L.A. Times, in one of their special sections, was a story with a huge headline that contained the name of a Japanese prefecture, Fukushima. That’s the area that was hit by the massive earthquake three years ago.

The reason the name Fukushima caught my eye is because my wife’s parents came to the U.S. from that prefecture and one of her sisters (now deceased) went to Japan as a child and lived there the rest of her life.

I visited Fukushima a couple of times.

Most Nisei know where their Issei parents came from but most, also, have never visited the home of their mothers and fathers.

My parents were from Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. I would guess that a prefecture is the equivalent of a state in the U.S.

Well, when I took a job in Tokyo in the early ’60s, it gave me a chance to visit Kumamoto. However, I didn’t know the name of the city that my parents were from, so I did some research and got the name, Tomochi-machi.

So, with a couple of fellow workers from the company I was employed, we boarded a plane and flew to Fukuoka, the closest city to where we were going. In Fukuoka, we rented a car and drove to Kumamoto, about a four-hour trip.

When we arrived in Kumamoto, one of the fellows traveling with me said he would go to the Buddhist temple in Tomochi-machi to see if there was a record of the Yoshinaga family.

The “bonsan” or priest did the  research and found the Yoshinaga name and family members still residing in the Tomochi-machi area. He was able to get three of them to attend a meeting he arranged.

If they were offspring of my father’s brothers and sisters, I would guess they would be “Gosei” by the U.S. system of addressing generations.

Needless to say, they had never heard of me and ditto for me about them.

However, it was quite interesting to learn I had relatives living in Kumamoto Prefecture.

I wonder how many other Nisei have undergone the same experience in meeting relatives they never knew existed.

In my usual habit of cleaning out the trash that has accumulated in and around my desk and computer, I came across material that I felt might be interesting to Rafu readers.

One item of interest was a story about The Las Vegas Sun. It is  one of two daily publications in Vegas along with The Las Vegas Review Journal.

I get both of them on my computer and it keeps me abreast of what’s going on in one of my favorite cities. I was kind of surprised to learn that The Sun might be on the verge of closing its doors, leaving Vegas with only one daily newspaper.

I guess not too many people who travel to Vegas even know about the two publications and perhaps I would be the same, except that I’m in the newspaper business and in this day and age, print publications are having a tough go of it. Perhaps not as tough as the vernacular field in the Japanese American community.

Everyone knows that there was a time when the Los Angeles area had three daily newspapers and one weekly. These would be The Rafu, Shin Nichi Bei and Kashu Mainichi, and the weekly, The Crossroads.

Now, only The Rafu exists.

The situation is the same in all other Japanese American communities.

In San Francisco, there were two vernacular dailies, The Nichi Bei Times and The Hokubei Mainichi. Today, none.

I wonder how the JA community can keep in touch with each other with no newspapers to read.

I asked one of my friends in San Francisco about the absence of a daily publication in the area and he said, “I guess we all adjust to it.”

I guess as the Japanese American community goes into the Gosei and Rokusei generations, the thinking of the population changes with the time.

I know my Yonsei granddaughters don’t seem to be too interested in what I refer to as the Japanese American community, so when the Gosei and Rokusei (fifth and sixth generations) become the mainstay of the so-called Japanese American community, I can imagine how their different thinking will alter the way life will be.

Heck, as I frequently mention, they probably won’t identify themselves by generations. I can even sense it now when I chat with my Yonsei granddaughters.

Oh well, I guess that’s life.

Speaking of my granddaughters, I find it tough to imagine that the oldest will be enrolling in college next semester.

To think I still remember her crawling around on her hands and knees in the living room of our house.

Needless to say, time flies.

Even more surprising is that that she has a driver’s license, so she travels around on her own. Wow! She has a driver’s license!

I used to drive when I was 15, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that a17-year-old is licensed to drive.

Of course, driving in a rural town like Mountain View in Northern California was nothing like driving in the traffic in the Los Angeles area.

How many of you out there in readerland know where Bernstein High School is located?

It’s in Hollywood and is called Hollywood Bernstein High School.

So why am I even mentioning this?

Well, the head coach of the varsity football team is a 31-year-old Sansei by the name of Masaki Matsumoto. Maybe, I shouldn’t label him as a Sansei just because he is only 31.

Actually, Matsumoto was born in Japan and came to the U.S. with his mother. That makes his story even more amazing.

Matsumoto played high school football at a Seattle prep school and in college at Trinity International in Chicago. He earned a master’s degree from Point Loma Nazarene College.

When Bernstein High opened in 2008, he was hired as a special education teacher and became assistant coach for the varsity team, which had a record of 0-9, 1-8 and 1-9 in the first three seasons when Matsumoto was involved.

When he took over as head coach, his team went 8-3 but he was never judged as to his success by wins and losses.

He said, “If your goal is to win, you’re never going to fulfill that every year.”

After a loss to Sun Valley Poly High in the school’s second game, the Bernstein Dragons won eight in a row and entered the Los Angeles City Section Division III playoffs.

I guess with the success he is enjoying, we’d better keep an eye on Matsumoto. He may one day emerge as a top-notch football coach at the college level. Hey, he’s still a very young man.

Good luck, Masaki!

Hey, what’s Japan coming to?

There was a recent newspaper story that had this headline: “Shoplifting by Seniors on the Rise in Tokyo.”

Shoplifting by seniors? Gee. I never thought I’d see a headline like that in a newspaper out of Japan.

However, stats show that the number of people age 65 or older caught shoplifting in Tokyo is increasing.

Investigators believe that this is becoming a trend as more seniors suffer from poverty without relatives or jobs.

In 1999, Tokyo police arrested 336 seniors for shoplifting, accounting for 6 percent of all shoplifters. The number jumped to 3,321 in 2012, making up 24.5 percent of the total.

Of the elderly people arrested for shoplifting in 2012, 72.7 were unemployed and 11.3 percent were on welfare. When asked why they had committed the crime, 32.6 percent cited poverty as the reason, while 32.4 percent said they had no one to turn for help.

About 70 percent of the items stolen were food products.

Kind of tough to believe about the Japanese elderly.

A short email from a reader: “Hey, Horse, judging from reading your column it seems you haven’t been to Vegas for nearly four months.

“What I’m curious about is your cigar supply. You always write that you pick up your cigars at the Indian store not far from The Cal.

“If you’ve been away for four months, you must be out of supply by now.”

Thanks for reminding me. Yeah, I’ve run out of cigars from the Indian store, so I’ve gone back to my former supplier in Miami. They ship me my stogies by mail.

It costs a bit more and may not be as good as the Indian stogies, but, hey, I have to keep chewing on cigars, especially when I’m writing my column.

Without a stogie in my mouth, my mind doesn’t function as smoothly as I would like it to do.

I’m sure the Indians in Vegas are wondering what happened to that guy.

Well, hopefully I can greet them in a couple of weeks when I have my next Vegas trip planned.

That is, unless the chap who is volunteering to drive me and my wife suddenly develops a headache and says he can’t make it.

Yeah, I know. In that case, take the bus.

(Maggie’s comment: FORGIVE me for saying this, Mr. Y, but I firmly believe many of your readers do NOT completely read your column; otherwise they would not send you an email such as the above. You have mentioned a few times in your column that you order cigars from a supplier in Miami when you cannot be supplied by the Indians in Vegas. How you received the name “Horse” is another subject readers constantly ask, and you have written about this a few times in your column.)

I’m glad the Winter Olympics in Sochi are finally winding up. Not a Winter Olympics fan to begin with, I got kind of pooped out trying to avoid reading the stuff out of Sochi about the Games.

Somehow the Winter Olympics don’t capture my interest. Watching someone zipping down the curves on a sled doesn’t seem like a sporting event to me.

Oh well, back to Major League Baseball and hopefully a great season for the Dodgers.

Today’s laugher, entitled “Embarrassing Medical Exams,” may cause some folks to shake their heads. “Kind of crude,” they may utter. Well, here we go anyway:

1. A man came into the ER and yelled, “My wife’s going to have a baby in the cab.” I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady’s dress and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly I noticed I was in the wrong cab. (Submitted by Dr. Mark McDonald, San Francisco)

2. At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient’s anterior chest wall. “Big breaths,” I instructed. “Yes, they used to be,” replied the patient. (Submitted by Dr. Richard Byrnes, Seattle)

3. One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarction. Not more then five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a massive internal fart. (Submitted by Dr. Susan Steinberg)

4. During a patient’s two-week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed me, his doctor, that he was having trouble with one of his medications. “Which one?” I asked. “The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I’m running out of places to put it.” I had him quickly undress and discovered what I hoped I wouldn’t see. Yes, the man had 50 patches on his body. Now the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one. (Submitted by Dr. Rebecca St. Clair, Norfolk, Va.)

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

Tags

Share.

Leave A Reply