HORSE’S MOUTH: Yoshinaga Ain’t Listed

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Those of you who watch TV know that the three major Indian casinos in the Southern California area run commercials, and those who appear in the commercials are mostly Asians — well, mostly Chinese.

One of the casinos, which gives away a car every week, uses a Chinese lady as one of the winners of the free car.

When I used to go to the Penchanga casino in Temecula, about 80 miles from Gardena, I used to notice that half of the patrons there were Chinese. Most of them were table game players. At least I never noticed any of them sitting at a slot machine, especially the ones I play. That would be the 25-cent machines.

Well, I’m still a Vegas fan, so I don’t go to the Indian casinos anymore. I guess it’s the atmosphere, which means there’s more to going to casinos than gambling.

The Cal, Fremont and Main Street casinos in Downtown Vegas offer the atmosphere that I enjoy in floating around the gaming areas. Since I don’t consider myself a “high roller,” enjoyment is a big part of going to a casino.

Most of my Japanese American friends tell me the same thing, especially those from Hawaii, and we know where all the folks from Hawaii go when they come to the Mainland.

Yeah, Downtown Vegas.

It would seem that airlines are on edge with the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight. They still haven’t gotten over the jitters, which is the reason that a Japan Airlines flight from Tokyo to San Francisco made an emergency landing in Honolulu this past Saturday when the pilot sensed a possible problem with his jet’s hydraulic system.

The pilot of the JAL flight carrying 171 passengers and crew decided to divert to Hawaii after a warning message about falling pressure in one of the engines appeared. NHK said there was no fire.

In a short statement on its website, JAL said the jet landed in Honolulu due to maintenance issues.

The Boeing 787 has suffered a series of problems since coming into service two years ago. Boeing admitted that despite months of testing, it did not know the cause of the battery problems.

The Cato Institute released an updated 2013 study showing that welfare benefits pay more than minimum-wage jobs in 33 states. Even worse, welfare benefits pay more than $15 per hour in 13 states with Hawaii being the biggest offender.

Welfare recipients in Hawaii earn $29.13 per hour or $60,590 yearly, all for doing nothing.

District of Columbia ranks second with $50,820.

Hey, maybe I should toss my column in the wastebasket and move to Maui.

Again, speaking of Hawaii, recent stats show that tourism to the Islands has fallen drastically.

The biggest drop-off is from those from the West Coast. Angelenos have cut their visits to the Islands quite a bit.

I guess I can buy that. There was a time when I used to get itchy feet about flying to Hawaii but these days, no such thoughts. Gimme Vegas, instead.

Of course, the drop-off of Japanese visitors to Hawaii hasn’t affected the state too much as they are now being outnumbered by Chinese tourists, so I guess chop suey is selling more than sukiyaki in Hawaii restaurants.

Seems like quite a few Japanese American voters are not that supportive of Paul Tanaka’s bid to become the next Los Angeles County sheriff.

At least I keep getting mails that seem to indicate this, especially since I noted that I’m for Tanaka winning the election later this year.

Here is a typical letter from Yuki Suminaga, who wrote:

“Mr. Yoshinaga, I believe you should read the article in the March issue of the Los Angeles Magazine entitled ‘Downfall.’ This article is regarding Lee Baca and Paul Tanaka. I believe where there is smoke, there is fire, as that many people cannot be wrong about his role as number two man in Sheriff Baca’s office.”

As I am backing Tanaka in his bid for the sheriff’s seat, I hope I get more JAs who are supportive of the Sansei candidate.

(Maggie’s comment: I don’t want to get involved in political issues; however, I think readers should read an article in The Rafu’s March 1, 2014 issue entitled “Candidate Tanaka Answers His Critics.”)

In recent times I frequently chat about not being able to get to Las Vegas as often as I would like because I can’t drive that distance and I can’t find someone who might offer to do the driving.

This is especially so since I lost my second son, who became my driver but suddenly passed away last year.

So now as the calendar keeps turning over, the length of time I have been away from my favorite place is now reaching five months.

Gosh, I don’t ever remember being away from Vegas for more than three months and now I’m going to hit five months. I am wondering what my contacts at The Cal in Vegas are thinking. I wonder if they asked some of the Nisei patrons who stay at the Cal, “Hey, what ever happened to the Horse?”

Oh well, maybe I’ll follow the information some readers sent me. One told me that there are two buses a day leaving for Vegas from Union Station in Downtown L.A. and the cost is reasonable.

Sounds pretty good. The only thing is, where do I park my car for a few days when I drive to Union Station?

I guess I could park in Little Tokyo, but it’s a little too far to walk from J-Town to Union Station.

(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, there is a parking lot at Union Station, so perhaps you can check into it, although if I remember correctly, it is rather expensive.)

I don’t recall if I ever used the following item in my column, but I was cleaning out the junk in my file, as usual, and came across a list of the most popular Japanese family surnames.

Heading the list as No. 1 is Sato. That kind of tickles my ribs because my wife’s maiden name is Sato. Yeah, and Yoshinaga doesn’t even make the top 100.

The top ten names are: Sato, Suzuki, Takahashi, Tanaka, Watanabe, Ito, Yamamoto, Nakamura, Kobayashi, Kato.

I have friends in the top-ten list, and who doesn’t?

No. 100 on this list is Arai. Gee, are there more Arais than Yoshinagas?

The information is derived from what is called “Myoji no Himitsu.” (Secrets of Family Names).

My parents were from Kumamoto Prefecture, where Tanaka and Nakamura are the most popular names, but Yoshinaga is nowhere to be found. Maybe they should try Gardena.

Here’s another thing I uncovered going through my junk pile. Again, I don’t know if I ever used it in the past. It’s a list entitled “You Know You’re Japanese American When …” Here are a few examples:

• You know that “camp” doesn’t mean a cabin in the woods.

• The men in your family were gardeners, farmers, produce workers or plantation workers.

• The women in your family were seamstresses, domestic workers or farm laborers.

• Your Issei parents had an arranged marriage.

• One of your relatives was a “picture bride.”

• You have Nisei male relatives named Tak, Tad, George, Harry or Shig.

• You have Nisei female relatives named Keiko, Aiko, Sumi or Mary.

• You’re a Sansei and your name is Janice, Glen, Brian, Bill or Kenji.

• You’re thinking of naming your Yonsei child Brittany, Jenny, Lauren, Garrett or Brett, with a Japanese middle name.

• All your cousins are having Hapa kids.

• You have relatives who live in Hawaii.

• You learned the words “bakatare,” “urusai,” and “yakamashii” because you were called them by your grandparents.

• Wherever you live now, you always come home to the Obon festival.

• You have a kaki tree in your backyard.

• You have one bag of senbei in the house at all times.

• You have a family “mon” and Japanese needlepoint on the wall.

• When you visit other Japanese, you know that you should bring “omiyage.”

• Wearing shoes in the house is a big no-no.

• You know someone who has run for Nisei Week Queen.

(Maggie’s comment: The list of Japanese surnames and the above were used before, but it has been a while, so I typed them.)

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.

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