HORSE’S MOUTH: Tokyo Is World’s Top City

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published June 3, 2014)

I am writing this column on Sunday, which means you’ll be reading it on Tuesday. It also means that the results from the election are still not available to the readers, so we don’t know if Paul Tanaka was successful in his bid to become the next sheriff of Los Angeles County.

As far as pre-election stats are concerned, Tanaka wasn’t the favorite to capture the title. He was probably the third choice of those following the election.

Needless to say, I hope Tanaka can overcome the pre-election prediction. Wouldn’t it be something to have the most populous county in the U.S. electing a Japanese American as the sheriff?

As one who watched Tanaka grow from childhood and be elected as the mayor of the City of Gardena, his election to the sheriff’s office will be even greater.

I guess I mentioned it in the past, but Tanaka grew up with my oldest son, who is also named Paul. My son Paul is an attorney and a member of the Los Angeles County Council, the legal arm of L.A. County. So if Tanaka wins the sheriff’s post, both Pauls will have achieved the top rung in their professional life.

It will, without a doubt, be one of the greatest achievements for the Japanese American community.

Yes, I’ll have my fingers crossed in hopes for a Tanaka victory, and I’m sure many others in the JA community feel the same way as I do.

It will be an indication of how far up the ladder the JA community has advanced since our return from the relocation camps where all of us were placed at the start of World War II.

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As I mention from time to time, I’ve lived in the City of Gardena nearly 60 years and during that period, I’ve been pounding out my column for several newspapers. However, I guess I’ve never been recognized as a citizen of the city. Well, all that changed recently when I began to receive a publication by the City Council through the mail.

Kind of inflated my ego, if nothing else.

Since the city has quite a few Japanese American employees, I’m sure some of them must read The Rafu and thus, see my column.

Oh well, all I can say now is “Hooray!”

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Thought some of you might be interested in learning that Tokyo has been declared to be in the top spot among world cities.

The Japanese city topped New York City, Barcelona, and Istanbul.

Used to rate Tokyo as the top city were its friendliness, public transportation, cleanliness and shopping facilities.

No, unfortunately our City of Los Angeles was not mentioned among the top cities of the world. I guess those of us who live here can understand why

Of course, having lived in Tokyo, I’m not sure what made it the top in the world.

Yes, it’s a nice place to live and work, but citing it as No. 1 in the world makes me wonder.

I didn’t experience one thing that made Tokyo better than, say, New York City or even Los Angeles.

That’s because with its huge population, living daily life in Tokyo was more work than pleasure.

Oh well.

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I’m sure many of you read or heard about the fellow who is trying to run from Alaska to Argentina, a distance of about 14,000 miles. He plans to run about 30 miles a day so it will take him a lot of years to complete.

The story didn’t reveal the American’s name or age, but he will put on more than few years on his age for such a journey.

There wasn’t too much detail on how he plans to pursue his run. That is, what is he going to do about lodging at night? When and what to dine on during his many years of running?

I’m sure he must still be in his early twenties.

Hey, tack 20 years on his age and he’ll be in his 40s by the time he completes his run.

Yes, and how is he financing his run? I’m sure he must have a sponsor.

I’ll keep an eye on his daily run to see how he is doing.

I got tired just reading about his journey.

I hope he brought along enough clean socks. Heh, heh.

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How many of you know the definition of the word “conundrum?”

I saw the word and didn’t have the faintest idea. Am I the only one?

Well, reader “Retired Mas,” who frequently sends me stuff, gave me the following explanation of the word. Here are six of his conundrums:

“America is a capitalist and greedy, yet half of the population is subsidized.

“Half of the population is subsidized, yet they think they are the victims.

“They think they are the victims, yet their representatives run the government.

“Their representatives run the government, yet the poor keep getting poorer.

“The poor keep getting poorer, yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

“They have things that people in other countries only dream about, yet they want America to be more like those other countries.”

Think about that. Pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st century.

Makes you wonder who is doing the math.

These three short sentences tell you a lot about the direction of our current government and cultural environment:

“We are advised to not judge all Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics but we are encouraged to judge all gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.

“Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group worked for their money, but the second didn’t. Think about it.

“And last but not the least: Why are we cutting benefits for our veterans, no pay raises for our military and cutting the Army to a level lower than before WWII, but we dare not stop payments or benefits to illegal aliens?

“Am I the only one missing something?”

Good question.

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Since David Ono’s TV program on which I was interviewed was telecast in Northern California this past Saturday, I called my sister in Mountain View to tell her about my appearance and ask her to contact some of my old classmates to tell them I’d be on the tube.

I don’t know how many she got in touch with, but I want her to get their reaction to seeing their old classmate on TV.

I’m sure most them commented, “Gee, George doesn’t look like George from the old days. Naw, that’s not the George who was in our class back in the 1940s.”

That’s to be expected. How can a 17-year-old back in 1941 not look like an 88-year-old in 2014?

Hey, I wasn’t much of a student back in those days.

I got sort of lucky after the evacuation and I returned to civilian life in the Los Angeles area and became a journalist.

My classmates back 70 years ago looked at me as a farmer, which I was.

Going from being a farmer to a journalist is quite a jump, needless to day.

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We were sitting on our front porch just watching cars passing by. We didn’t realize what time it was. But my wife asked me, “Do you have the time?”

I took out my cell phone because it always shows the time of day. I was surprised to see that it was 5:30 p.m. It felt more like 1 in the afternoon.

When I told my wife what time it was she said, “No wonder I’m hungry. Do you want to go out and have dinner?”

When she asks me a question like that, I usually respond, “What do you want, Japanese?”

She’s a lot different. Just saying “Japanese” doesn’t sit well with her. If I want Japanese, she expects me to say something like “How about some tempura?” or “What about teriyaki beef?”

If she’s looking for Japanese food, she would give me the name of the restaurant, not the type of food I want to order.

Ditto for any other eateries.

So, when she gives me the name of a Korean eatery , I know exactly what she wants for dinner and that’s where we ended up going, ordering Korean dishes at a local Korean restaurant.

By the way, eating Korean food is something we developed while living and working in Tokyo.

The person I worked for had a Japanese name but he was a Korean and introduced me to Korean food.

Until then, I didn’t even know about Koreans and Korean foods. However, once I developed a taste for Korean food, I became addicted to their many dishes.

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Okay, time to laugh and leave:

• A crook mistakenly made a counterfeit $8 bill. He decided to try it out anyway. He went to the teller to the bank and asked for change.

The teller looked at the $8 bill and gave the crook two $4 bills as change.

• What do you call counterfeited Germany currency?

Question marks.

• Joe asked God, “How much is a penny worth in heaven?

God said, “$1 million.”

Joe then asked, “How long is a minute in heaven?”

God said, “One million years.”

Joe asked for a penny.

God said, “Sure, in a minute.”

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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