HORSE’S MOUTH: In Search of JA Athletes

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published June 14, 2014)

WOW! It’s June 2014. This date might not mean anything to anyone, but for me I will be starting my 25th year writing my column for The Rafu.

That’s right. Twenty-five years ago, then Editor Naomi Hirahara invited me to write my column for The Rafu after I retired from The Kashu Mainichi.

So I said to myself, “Why not?” And here I am, 25 years later, still banging away on the keyboard of my computer.

Well, what this all means is that the end might be in sight. I’m no spring chicken anymore. Heck, I’m not even a worn-out rooster.

Oh well, I’ll wait and see what the readers think about this rooster heading off into the sunset.

(MAGGIE’S COMMENT: Let me be the first to react, Mr. Y. Perish the thought of hanging ’em up now, but perhaps in another two or three years.)

In the meanwhile, let me get on with today’s chatter.

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A Japanese American athlete from Hawaii signed to play with a Major League Baseball club. It should be big news, but I haven’t seen the story anywhere.

Well, maybe a JA athlete being signed by a professional club isn’t such a big deal anymore.

There was a time when JA athletes, be it in baseball, basketball or football, were big news, especially in the vernacular press, but it doesn’t seem that way anymore.

When I was with The Kashu Mainichi, I handled sports news as one of my assignments and when a JA’s name appeared, be it at the prep level or at the college level, it was headline news.

Remember such names as Dick Nagai, Kaz Shinzato, Herb Isono and Jim Miyano? They were the JAs who played their sports at the college level and it was big news in those days.

Nowadays, I do glance at the rosters of teams at various levels of competition and don’t find a single JA name anywhere.

I would assume that there aren’t many JA athletes getting involved in collegiate level sports.

Maybe I’m fortunate I don’t cover JA sports anymore.

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Received the following news release that informed the public of the showing of the film “Issei: The First Generation” on Sunday, June 29, at 11:30 a.m. at Gardena Buddhist Church, 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena:

Filmed in 1983 in and around Walnut Grove, “Issei” was shown only twice in 1984 on local television in the Bay Area. Buried in the vaults for 30 years, this unique film was produced by poet and filmmaker Toshi Washizu.

Fifty-four minutes in length, “Issei” is about Japanese who immigrated to the West Coast at the turn of the century. These pioneering men and women tell their own stories of struggles and triumphs in a new land. Actress Amy Hill narrates the film, which has subtitles for the Japanese interviews.

With the generous help of UCLA Professor Lane Hirabayashi, holder of the Aratani Endowed Chair, Washizu has generated a newly restored, wide-screen, digital version of the film. Hirabayashi will be present to introduce the film and to answer questions.

“Issei” is one of the few films that documents Japanese Americans in rural settings generally, and the San Joaquin Delta area specifically, making it a valuable contribution to the history of the first-generation Japanese experience before, during, and after the war.

Among the survivors of this remarkable generation who began the Japanese American tradition were 95-year-old Yasu Kawamura, who along with her husband settled in Walnut Grove, where the couple managed a barbershop; Kumajiro Murakami, 102, who tells of how he immigrated first to Hawaii, where he worked on a sugar plantation, and later to California to become one of the first pioneers of the strawberry industry in Watsonville; and Taka Washizu, 84, who tells of hardships before, during, and after the war, working with her sharecropper husband in Walnut Grove.

Light snacks will be served. Register by contacting Patti Nishimura at (310) 527-7265 or [email protected]

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I guess I never thought that my wife would keep track of my cigar smoking.

Found out differently the other day when she said, “How come you aren’t out of cigars? We have been to Las Vegas, where you buy your cigars only once in eight months, so you should be out by now.”

I laughed. I told her I don’t smoke cigars anymore. Only chew on them, and since I chew on one cigar for a week, a box of cigars of 50 could last me for months.

Needless to say, she laughed. “Wow,” she commented, “think of the money you’re saving.”

Never thought about it that way.

At any rate, with what I have left in my desk, I guess my supply of stogies will last me until my next trip to Vegas.

Yeah, I’ve scheduled Aug. l, 2 and 3 as my next Vegas visit.

Heck, when I stopped lighting my cigars, I discovered that maybe, even if I run out of them, I still won’t have to buy any more because chewing on them seems to have killed my desire for cigars.

Yes, I did find someone who has volunteered to drive me and my wife on my next visit to The Cal. Hopefully, he won’t back out at the last minute.

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I want to publicly thank one of the readers of my column who has subscribed me to The Hawaii Hochi, a semi-monthly publication from Honolulu. I’ve been getting my copies for about two months now and reading it has keep me up-to-date on what’s going on in the Island State.

Since I have a keen interest in what’s going on in Hawaii, I find getting The Hochi as a valuable part of my life. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many articles that I can reprint in my column in The Rafu. However, I feel that the ones I do print are of interest not only to the ex-residents of Hawaii who now live in the L.A. area but also to the local JAs.

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All I can say is, “What’s this world coming to?”

That’s after reading about the 15-year-old who went on a shooting rampage, killing a fellow student before shooting himself.

Over the past several weeks, many other incidents involving guns have made the headlines, but none with the gunman being only a teenager.

The natural question would be, “How did he get his hands on the gun he used to kill a fellow student?”

His parents didn’t know he owned a weapon.

The pistol he used was not the only weapon he was carrying when he went on his rampage. How is it his parents didn’t even know he owned one weapon?

It’s bad enough that adults have been involved in using a weapon, but a 15-year-old?

The laws governing weapons ownership doesn’t mean a thing when the parents of a teenager aren’t aware that their young son owns not only one but several firearms.

Since I’m sure there are a few “copycats” out there, it’s kind of scary when the shooter is only a teenager.

I sure hope no one in the Los Angeles area decides to be a copycat and go on a shooting rampage in a local shopping area.

It’s tough enough for the law enforcement agencies to control adults who carry weapons.

What’s next?

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Yes, as I stated a bit earlier, I received a lot of mail, both email and through the postal system, about my being away from Vegas.

Kind of made me feel good that I was missed. Well, probably not as much as I missed being in my favorite city.

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I was just winding up today’s chatter and didn’t even know what special day it was since I was concentrating so much on writing my column.

It was my wife who reminded me. No, she didn’t say, “Today is Wednesday.”

She reminded me that in Hawaii, it’s a major holiday. It’s called King Kamehameha Day.

Well, I guess it only has importance in the Islands.

Okay, aloha!

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In celebration of Hawaii’s special day, my wife said she’d take me out to dinner.

“Where do you want to go?” she asked.

Maybe, since I was still a page and a half from finishing my chatter, I could have said, “Let’s go to McDonald’s.”

I gave that another thought and figured that would be kind of insulting to a former Islander from Maui since it is a major holiday in Hawaii, so I let her choose the site.

She picked Grand Buffet in Torrance. It’s a little far from Gardena but an excellent place to dine. Buffets are my favorite place because there is such a wide variety of dishes to select and for someone with my appetite, who can ask for more?

Which reminds me that this past week, a reader wrote, “Hey, Horse, you often chat about eating out in the South Bay area. I like to do the same since I live in Gardena, too. Maybe you can give me a list of the eating places you frequent.”

Well, maybe my choice of “favorite” eating places doesn’t mean they serve better food than other sites. I guess the cost of having a meal is the key for my selection. That doesn’t mean the places I patronize don’t serve good food just because the prices are not that expensive.

Yes, I like Grand Buffet because I can select any dish that appeals to me. The main dish at the Grand Buffet that other eateries don’t carry is the crab legs and, of course, the “buffet” in the name tells the rest.

When it comes to Japanese food, I am a patron of Azuma on Western Avenue. It’s a small place, which means it’s often overcrowded, but they serve Japanese dishes that I enjoy. The menu prices are within my budget, too.

It’s not a fancy place for a Japanese eatery, but heck, the quality of food is most important.

For my usual dining spot, it’s Bob’s, also on Western. It has a Hawaiian touch. it was previously located on Vermont near downtown Gardena, but it moved to its present location when the previous owner, Bob, passed away.

That pretty much covers my eating-out sites in the Gardena area.

Don’t know if anyone agrees, but the foregoing are my choices.

Until next week…

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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