HORSE’S MOUTH: Now, About Apolo Ohno

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

If I asked any Nisei what he/she thought was the third-busiest airport in the world, I’d probably get the response, “Well, since you often chat about Japan, I would say a facility in that country would gain the title.” He/she would add, “So my answer to your question would be Narita Airport.”

The right country was picked. However, much to my own surprise, the third-busiest airport in the world is in Japan, but it’s not Narita. I learned that it is Haneda. That’s the first airport opened in Japan, which was later replaced by Narita as Japan’s major airport.

However, as far as air traffic and passengers are concerned, it’s Haneda, on the outskirts of Tokyo.

The fourth-busiest in the world is also in Japan and again, most will respond, “Narita.”

Again, they would be wrong. The fourth-busiest airport is located in Osaka.

So, what happened to Narita?

Oh well, enuff about airports and Japan.

Well, let’s not leave Japan just yet.

This chatter has to do with Japan and the possibility that a Las Vegas casino/hotel is planning to invest $10 billion to set up business in Tokyo.

Yes, the talk these days is that Japan will permit the opening of a casino and the offer from the Sands Hotel in Vegas may be the big step towards that goal.

Yeah, if someone wants to invest $10 billion to open a business in Japan, even if it’s a gambling casino, it’s going to catch more than casual attention. The report said that Osaka is interested in bidding against Tokyo to attract the Vegas Sands.

One reason the Sands is interested in opening a casino in Japan is that the country can draw a lot of Chinese tourists to the Tokyo or Osaka casino, and don’t forget casino fans from Korea.

It will be interesting to see if Japan will allow casino gaming. It might even help to lure Americans to Japan.

We’ll keep an eye on this matter.

No, I’m too old to consider going to Japan just because they set up a casino there.

Driving four hours to Vegas is a heck of a lot easier than sitting in a plane for ten hours to fly to Tokyo, even if they serve sushi to those who sit in front of a slot machine.

Gee, I guess I’m not completely forgotten. Why?

Well, I just received an invitation to have lunch with the Japanese consul general at the former New Otani Hotel, now known as the DoubleTree by Hilton.

This will be my first visit to the hotel since it changed ownership and name. I didn’t know that it is now called Doubletree.

I wonder if the site is still a Japanese-flavored hotel.

Well, I’ll be able to write about my lunch with the consul general, which will be another first. I don’t think I’ve ever had a lunch or dinner with a Japanese CG.

I’ll have to apologize to the people who put on a gathering to discuss the Heart Mountain Relocation Center at the JA National Museum in J-Town.

I had agreed to attend, but unfortunately I had to attend a memorial service for an old friend, which was held on Saturday only a few hours before the Heart Mountain gathering.

Since the memorial service was held in Gardena, I just didn’t have time to jump in my car and head for J-Town. Perhaps a dozen years ago, when I was still a bit younger, I might have attempted to attend both events.

Everyone is preparing for the rain, which is being predicted over the next few days. It’s been so long since we had rain I couldn’t even find our umbrella.

My wife had packed away my raincoat, so I had to go through the closet to find mine.

Well, let’s hope the weatherman is wrong and I can keep my raincoat locked up.

Time to toss in one of the many emails I receive each week. This reader wrote:

“Hey, Horse, my wife just picked up a cat from a friend about a week ago.

“I just can’t seem to adjust to a kitten running around the house. I know you wrote that you have three cats. How do you do it?”

Well, it isn’t easy, except my wife is the car caretaker of the trio, so I don’t try to get too involved with them.

My wife doesn’t like it, but I always leave the door open and they dash outside.

Only problem is when night rolls around, she expects me to round them up and bring them inside.

By the way, did you give your kitten a name?

My wife gave all of our cats Japanese names. They are called Michi, Pika and Nori.

Naw. They don’t respond when I call them by their names. So, with me, it’s just, “Here, kitty.”

I guess if I had a choice, I’d rather have a dog.

At least a dog will respond when its name is called.

(Maggie’s comment: Now, Mr. Y, you knew I would respond when you talk about cats. Cats DO respond when their names are called. They come when Mrs. Y calls them, right? I read somewhere, “Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and call you later.” I really don’t agree wholeheartedly with that, but it is clever.)

We are members of Sam’s Club, the supermarket, so we get the magazine published by the company. On the cover of the March/April edition is a photo of Apolo Ohno.

I wasn’t aware of it when he was setting a world record as an ice skater, but according to the story entitled “Rare Air,” the Japanese American champion and record holder had to overcome an illness that made it difficult for him to breathe during or after exercise.

The most decorated U.S. Winter Olympian of all time, he won eight medals overall and two golds to stake a claim as the best short-track speed skater in the world.

What most of us did not know about the Japanese American athlete is that he suffered from exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB), also known as exercise-induced asthma, an ailment that causes obstruction of airflow.

EIB is something the JA superstar has dealt with since his interest in skating began in his teenage years.

Despite the physical limitations that he was enduring, Ohno began full-time training in 1996 and managed to become the youngest winner of a U.S. senior championship at age 14 with a gold medal in the 1,500 meter.

His preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was going full-speed ahead when team doctors informed him that despite high-level success EIB was adversely affecting his condition.

He said he was surprised to learn that he was competing at 70-75 percent of his potential, so he welcomed the medical treatment with open arms in hope of competing on a level playing field. As they say, the rest is history.

In addition to his Olympic success, Ohno’s career includes 21 world championships and three overall World Cup titles.

Quite a story about the Sansei, don’t you think?

Short-track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno shared his story of overcojming exercise-induced bronchospasm IOEIB at AANMA's 6th annual Allergy & asthma Day Capitol Hill on May 9.

Short-track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno shared his story of overcoming exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) at AANMA’s (Allergy & Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics) sixth annual Allergy & Asthma Day Capitol Hill on May 9.

These days when lunchtime rolls around, my wife expects me to jump in the car and bring back a Big Mac.

After reading an article about a new hamburger sandwich, I decided to surprise my wife by driving a bit further down the road and getting it. It’s at Burger King and was introduced about three months ago.

Burger King also rolled out a rib sandwich to compete with McDonald’s McRib. The price for each sandwich is the same, which seems to give an edge to the new one.

If my wife’s reaction to the new sandwich is any indication, it might be sayonara to Big Mac.

Oh well, if not, I can always have a bowl of rice with tsukemono.

At any rate, Burger King is planning to expand its new product in the days to come.

Since I’ll be going to Santa Anita in about three weeks for a special occasion being put together by Bacon Sakatani, I’ve been paying a little more attention to the races there.

It was kind of surprising that my favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, is doing pretty well at the Arcadia facility. As I write this, he’s collected 19 wins and ranks in the top ten among jockeys.

Not bad for a rider who doesn’t get as many mounts as he used to when he was always near the top of the jockey standings.

It’s always my feeling that if the trainers would give him a boost up on mounts, he could still be closer to the top in the jockey race.

Yeah, I know. He’s in his mid-30s in age, but for jockeys that’s not too much of a handicap.

I hope the day we gather for the special occasion at Santa Anita, he wins a couple of races and we can have our photo taken with him.

If he does score a few wins, I might come home with a few bucks because I’m going to place a bet on all of his mounts.

Go, Corey!

A sign of the times?

Since I frequently mention that I grew up on a farm in prewar days, any story about the agricultural industry catches my eye, especially if there’s a Japanese American involved.

In this case, it’s Steven Murata of Ventura County.

In our day, it was almost unheard of for farmers, mostly JAs, to have their farm equipment stolen.

For Murata, it’s entirely different.

In January, robbers stole a field’s worth of support hoops — metal pipes that hold plastic covers over row crops.

Three weeks ago, thieves stole farming tools from a shed.

The Nisei farmer said he’s not sure if the same group of people did both robberies, but several other farmers in the area said they had their equipment stolen.

Murata said his neighbor got hit the same weekend, for the third time.

A spokesman for the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said theft of farming equipment has increased in the past three months.

Metal products are targeted by the thieves. Items include brass sprinkler heads and aluminum irrigation pipes.

Farming equipment, according to Murata, is easy to steal and sell.

Maybe the Nisei farmers might go back to my brother’s days. He always carried a shotgun in his truck. Heh, heh.

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t see an article on the new Japanese pitcher with the New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka.

I guess when the New Yorkers play the Dodgers this coming season, if the game is played at the local stadium, a whole lot of Little Tokyoites will be in the stands and cheering for the opposing team rather than the Dodgers.

That is, all but me. I’m still going to be cheering for the boys in blue and I’ll be cheering for the Dodgers’ equipment manager, who is a Japanese American.

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

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