HORSE’S MOUTH: Introducing ‘Dave-san’

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Oct. 18, 2014)

There are a lot of things we begin to neglect so we age. One of them is getting a haircut. I guess I don’t realize what I look like as my hair begins to sag down until people starting telling me, “Hey, Horse, you really need a haircut.”

So I looked in the mirror and sure enough, I looked like a shaggy stray dog with my hair nearly covering my ears.

The next step is what causes me to even write about this subject.

I jumped in my car and drove to a place where I used to get my hair cut. When I got there, there was a sign on the window, “We are closed,” so I drove around and around and I couldn’t find a barbershop.

Most of those I used to see while driving around town are now gone. I guess Japanese Americans aren’t interested in becoming barbers. Can’t think of any other reason why a city like Gardena, with its large JA population, doesn’t have a JA-operated barbershop.

A few years ago, there were JA barbers in almost every shopping center in the city.

Yes, I did finally find one. He was a Korean who spoke very little English, so I had a difficult time trying to explain how I wanted my hair cut.

I didn’t have to look in the mirror twice to see that I didn’t get my hair cut the way I wanted, so I wasn’t surprised when I got home and my wife looked at me and said, “What happened?”

Oh well, I guess I’ll wear a hat for a week or so until my hair grows back.

By the way, I’m sure some of you in the reading audience know that I was a barber way back when. But after a barbershop hired me, the owner told me I was a lousy barber and had to let me go.

Gee, I wonder what life would have been like if I had remained a barber.

Since our sons have grown and moved on with families of their own, my wife and I are living a different kind of life, especially when it comes to dining.

Cooking for two people isn’t something my wife likes to do, so nowadays we dine out most of the time.

And when we do dine at home, we usually bring home sandwiches from McDonald’s. Big Macs for supper? Oh, my gosh.

According to an article I read recently, people are losing their taste for McDonald’s. It is reported that McDonald’s is suffering its worst slump in a decade and things will get even worse as the younger generation is losing interest in Big Macs.

McDonald’s was the world’s biggest restaurant, but the company’s revenue has fallen drastically. More than 40 percent of McDonald’s eateries have declined in sales, mainly because the percentage of people age 19 to 21 who patronize the popular eatery has dropped dramatically.

Those in the above age bracket are now dining at sit-in eateries.

Just thought I’d toss this in since I’m still a Big Mac fan.

A friend and reader of my chatter asked me the other day, “Hey Horse, you don’t seem to be writing too much about the Dodgers’ baseball games like you used to in past years. What happened?”

I guess I have been overlooking the local club this year. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been to a single Dodgers game this season.

Yeah, I’m hoping the local club will sign a player from Japan, which certainly will increase my desire to see them play.

Take a look at Masahiro Tanaka, who is now the ace of the New York Yankees. He’s pitched longer and better for the Yankees than most of the other team members.

So if a Japanese pitcher can wind up in New York, why not a Japanese pitcher for the Los Angeles franchise?

Dave Spector

Dave Spector

Does the name David Spector ring a bell with most Americans?

I’ve never heard of him until recently when I read an article describing the Chicago native as Japan’s most recognized American.

He speaks flawless Japanese and stars in advertisements for a range of Japanese products.

Spector is now in his 30th year on Japanese TV, where he is known as “Dave-san.”

His liberal sprinkling of puns makes his Japanese audiences laugh and groan.

He said, “I have gone beyond the gaijin category. I’m part of the Japanese pop culture.”

The Japanese-speaking gaijin became a celebrity in the boom years of the 1980s.

His Japanese wife, Kyoko, is the owner of a talent agency.

 Yes, while I’m putting together words for my column, I go through the stack of stuff I have stored in my file cabinet because sometimes I come across some very interesting material that I feel might make interesting reading for folks out in readerland.

Of course, I have to decide if it’s of interest to me only or would be of interest to others. How do I decide?

I have a few friends whom I ask for their opinion.

Needless to say, most don’t want to be recognized in print, so they shrug their shoulders and tell me, “Don’t write about this conversation.”

After writing for the past 70 years, I can understand how most feel about not having their names in print. So I’ll just continue without identifying the readers by name.

As I frequently mention, George Wakiji of Camarillo is one of my greatest contributors.

I can’t use the stuff he sends me without mentioning his name but since he doesn’t want to be identified, I can’t share many of the interesting items I get from him.

He has a good nose for news, so a lot of his material is great for reprint, but as I said, he doesn’t want recognition, so I have to pass.

I guess I can’t end up today’s chatter without tossing in something about Las Vegas.

As most of you know, Vegas has a lot of Japanese visitors, especially at the gaming tables, which always makes me wonder when Japan will approve casinos at home.

Ten years ago Masayoshi Oiwane made a big bet that casinos would open in Japan.

Well, a decade later, Japanese are still forbidden to double down at the blackjack tables, but Oiwane hasn’t given up on legalized gambling in Japan.

His Japan Casino School opened in 2004 with a mission to teach Japanese students the finer points of running gambling tables and spinning roulette wheels.

He says he was sure that casinos would be legalized in Japan soon, so he didn’t think starting the school was such a bad business idea.

The odds may be tilted in Oiwane’s favor because legalized gambling is one of the pillars of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-growth agenda. He has promised to back a casino bill in the coming parliament session. The bill failed to succeed due to bureaucratic delays, but legislators say the chances are better now.

U.S. heavyweights like the Las Vegas Sands have already been talking up billions of dollars to spend on a casino-resort in Japan.

Casino executives have already stepped up location scouting, eyeing sites from Tokyo’s Tsukiji to a man-made island in Osaka.

Despite all the setbacks, Oiwane believes he is close to a jackpot. He hopes that casinos will be operating in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. If the chips fail to fall in his favor, he says he has a backup plan.

“I would buy a small casino overseas,” he says. “And send my unhappy students there.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

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