By George Yoshinaga

Since birthday time is supposed to be a joyful event, I thought I would start out with a little different twist. That is, try to make people laugh. So, because many kind readers send me what I label as “laughers,” I’ll fill up the early portion of today’s column.

These laughers put me in a good mood, something that’s not easy to do to an 80-plus senior citizen.

So try these:

Mujibar was trying to get a job in India. The personnel manager said, “Mujibar, you have passed all the tests, except one. Unless you pass it, you cannot qualify for this job.”

Mujibar said, “I’m ready.”

The manager said, “Make a sentence using yellow, pink and green.”

Mujibar thought for a minute and said, “Mister manager, I’m ready.”

Mujibar said, “The telephone does green, green and I pink it up and say yellow, this is Mujibar.”

Mujibar now works at the call center. No doubt you have spoken to him.

And here is the next one:

A Pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible.”

What do you mean?” the Pirate responded, “I feel fine.”

The bartender asked, “What about the wooden leg? You didn’t have that before?”

The Pirate said, “Well, we were in battle and I got hit with a cannon ball, but I’m fine now.”

Bartender: Well, okay but what about that hook?” What happened to your hand?

The Pirate: “We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a sword fight. My hand was cut off. I got fitted with a hook. I’m fine, really.”

Now the bartender asked about his eye patch. “What about the eye patch?”

The Pirate replied, “Oh, one day we were at sea and a flock of birds flew over and I was looking up, one of them poo-pooed in my eye.”

The bartender said, “You’re kidding. You lost an eye just from bird poo-poo?”

The Pirate grinned and said, “Yeah, it was my first day with the hook.”


Okay, let’s move on.

Hideo Karatsu wrote on a topic I touched in a recent column. He wrote:

“Enjoy reading your column and have a couple of comments regarding that of Saturday, July 11. I believe Ken Bone is the head basketball coach at Washington State and Jeff Hironaka was hired as an assistant. Jeff moves over from Seattle Pacific University where he had much success as head coach of that Division II school.

“Regarding head basketball coaches at Division I school, Bill Kajikawa was the head coach at Arizona State in the 50’s before ASU became a member of the Pac-10. In fact, he was also the baseball coach in addition to being an assistant football coach and is considered by many as the “dean” of ASU coaches. Please search the name Kajikawa, Bill, on the internet and there are some amazing interviews and articles about the man. It is a mystery why his name is not more prominent in the Japanese American community.”

Thanks for your letter, Hide. The information I received about Hironaka came from a newspaper in Seattle which was sent to me. In the story, it definitely stated that Hironaka is taking over the head coaching job at WSU.

As far as Bill Kajikawa is concerned, you are correct. He was the head coach at Arizona State. As time passes I guess we sometimes forget about Nisei who have accomplished so much in their chosen field

I met Bill in the past so I should not have forgotten about his stint as head coach at ASU.

Hide also added a comment about my reference to chef Roy Yamaguchi. He wrote:

“Regarding chef Roy Yamaguchi. He has many ‘Roy’s’ restaurants. Started in Honolulu and there are two in Maui, one in Tokyo and many others on the mainland. You may have had a taste of his cooking if you attended ‘An Evening of Aloha’ dinner which is sponsored by the Go For Broke Foundation for which Roy prepared the main entree. His cuisine is labeled as Hawaiian Fusion and is very innovative and good.”

Susan Taniguchi, who is with the University of California San Diego, also picked up on my Roy’s article. She wrote:

“Per your July 11 Rafu Shimpo column you asked for more information on Roy Yamaguchi’s restaurant in La Jolla. I myself have never been there, but my daughter has and she said it is a special occasion place. She said the food was good but as you can see by looking at their Web site, the menu items and prices are in a whole different league compared to your local Denny’s or McDonald’s. Perhaps you would like to treat Mrs. Yoshinaga on her birthday or your anniversary.”

Thanks, Susan. I did check out the Web site and you’re right. It is a bit pricey.

For example, their dinner tabbed, “Summer Prix Fixe” runs $35 per person. With tax added, I would guess that if I did take my wife, I’d be looking at a $100 tab.

A little out of my league, which is, of course, the McDonald’s League.

Well, at least at Roy’s the diner knows before hand what his/her tab will be.

Not so in Europe.

Stone Ishimaru just returned from a trip to Venice and here is what he wrote about his experience:

“Hi, just read your story in the July 11 edition regarding $980 dinner bill in Italy. I just returned from Venice and here’s my experience at a local pizzeria there. My family of five, ages seven to 80 plus myself dined there. An additional 12.50 Euro was listed on my check. Inside and outside tables was also charged to us. We paid but we left Venice and Italy with a sour taste in our mouths. The locals came and left with a smile in Rome so I guess they are used to the practice. Seems like anything can be charged to the bill without the guest’s knowledge. I guess in Rome you do like the Romans do (DUE). You gotta take extra cash when in Rome.”

Thanks, Stone. let’s just add that you got “stoned.”

As a little add, I experienced the same thing when I visited Paris many years ago.

So, who says Japan is too expensive.


Since I’m touching on food, will we be looking at another “Japanese invasion?”

Maybe. It’s a new Japanese dish called, taiyaki. It’s a fish-shaped pancake filled with azuki beans.

Maybe one of these days it will on the menu at Denny’s or IHOP. It’s the rage in Japan. If the diners don’t care for “azuki beans,” they can also opt for custard cream to sesame seed cream.

The pancakes are made by pouring waffle batter into a fish-shaped mold and cooked until the outer part is brown.

However, if the outer part is white, it is chewy and most people who eat it for the first time say they have never eaten anything like it.

A Fukuoka-based company makes the flour for “taiyiaki” and controls 100 percent of the market share.

Each taiyaki sells for 130 to 160 yen each. In U.S. currency, that’s about $1.15.

The next step is making frozen taiyiaki during the hot summer months. Okay, so i guess the next step is up to Denny’s and IHOP.

One thing about taiyaki if it ever makes it to our shore, the diners won’t have to pour syrup on it because the flavor is mixed into the pancake batter.

Okay, Grand Slam, move over for taiyaki.


Well, I’m glad I do get mail both pro and con on issues I may touch on. It sure helps me keeping pecking away on my keyboard. And it gives me a chance to understand what the people are thinking out there in readerland.

Of course, some are very informative. Masayoshi Yokoyama from Honolulu wrote this one:

“In regards to your article about pricing in stores and markets: $1.99, $2.99, when I lived in Japan stationed with the U.S. Army, I subscribed to the Japan Times and there was this “haole” guy writing articles just like you are and wrote some interesting stories.

“One of them was about the Jewish business owners living in Arab countries about 1,000 years ago. At that time, the Jewish people had no country of their own and were pushed from town to town because of the way of doing business. When they came to the U.S., they were always making money because they priced $1.99 instead of $2.00. A lot of the shoppers looked at the $1.00 portion of the bill instead of that one penny more would make it $2.00.”

Mas also added this: “You wrote about Ryan Yokoyama catching the 380-pound shark. He happens to be my second grandson. My son called me to tell me they ate some of the shark and it tasted pretty good.”

Thanks, Mas. I guess if you catch a 380-pound fish, it’s hard to “eat it all.” So I can understand your, “They ate some of the shark,” explanation.

I have a hard time eating a five-pound trout.


My wife is in a cleanup mood these days.

So almost every day she brings me something she dug up and tells me, “Look what I found.”

This morning it was a copy of a Monday, Feb. 5, 1996 edition of the Rafu. Well, that’s 12 years ago so I’m surprised it was still stashed away in the pile of junk.

I can understand why I saved it. There was a front page story written by former Rafu Editor, Takeshi Nakayama. The title of the story? “Treated Like Horses.”

No, it wasn’t about me.

It was a story on the 1,000 Nisei who gathered at the Santa Anita Race Track in a reunion of former internees at what was then labeled as an “Assembly Center.”

Well, Takeshi gave me ample credit for putting the gathering together which I still appreciate.

It was the reunion and subsequent three other gatherings which led the management of Santa Anita Race Tack to agree to put up a monument which designated that the facility was used to house Japanese American evacuees.

I’m glad I didn’t throw away the copy of the Rafu because the story covered three-fourth of the front page and I don’t think

I’ll ever be associated with an event which will get that much space in this newspaper.

There were three photos accompanying the story. One showed that over 100 attendees posing for Mario Reyes’ camera in front of the grandstand, under the sign which read, “Santa Anita, The Great Race Place.”

That could have a double meaning for JAs. One is about horse racing and these other about our ethnicity.

Also there was a photo of Jim and Toshiko Ito. They are the parents of Lance Ito, who gained national fame as the Judge who presided over the O.J. Simpson trial.

And, there was Mary Oye, who still had her original family number tag which was issued to all evacuees to place on the belongings they brought with them to the Assembly Center.

I don’t have mine, but I still remember our family number. It was 1733.

Gee, today I can’t even remember my son’s telephone number and yet I can still remember my family number.

Which also reminds me that I can still rattle off my Army serial number, but I have to look up my Social Security number when I am asked for it.

Why is that? Is it because of the hardship of evacuation and having to serve in the military?

I know a lot of Nisei who served in the Army during World War II can also rattle off their serial number but can’t remember phone numbers of friends and relatives.

Well, maybe it’s because we had those crazy “dog tags” which we were required to wear around our necks during our time in service.

Maybe I should have a “dog tag” made and have my Social Security number engraved on it and wrap it around my neck.


In one or two of my past columns, I wrote about James Ito and his stating that he would run naked though the streets of Little Tokyo if Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro batted .350 this season.

And, we learned it was just a gag. It was his dog named “Naked” that he was going to run through J-Town.

Well, lo and behold, I turned to the inside page of the front-page story about the Santa Anita Reunion and there was my column. And would you believe, I was writing about James Ito.

Now I know why he keeps taking pot shots at me. So, what did I write about Mr. Ito?

Here it is, in reprint from the 13-year-old Rafu: Let’s see here. According to Gardena resident James Ito, in a letter he dropped off at the Rafu office this past week, I am “namby-pamby” (lacking in character) and have a mental block regarding civil rights issues.

Regarding his letter, he says that my mental block is “the result of societal conditioning and constantly being told you are a model minority. I’d like to see it go from being a model minority to a macho minority.”

He adds that people facing discrimination should stand up for their rights. You know. Take a stand.

My response. Crap.

It’s nice to talk about “taking a stand” but from my experiences in life I find that the old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” stands true.

And the other old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the animal drink it,” also applies.

That is, I’d rather have a person who is obviously biased against me tell me to my face rather than, as Ito put it, be namby-pamby and act friendly until I’m out of sight.

Since Ito wants to be a macho minority, I wonder what he would do if a Hulk Hogan-type redneck came up to him and said,

“Hey, Jap.”

Would he take a stand or be namby-pamby himself when facing such overwhelming odds.

Enough said.

I guess it’s ironic that this column appeared in the same edition as the front page story on the Santa Anita Reunion because I faced an uphill battle in trying to get the race trace officials to recognize the Assembly Center as part of their history.

If I accepted the track’s officials refusal by taking a “namby-pamby” position, the monument would not be standing there today.

Well, enough of living in the past.


Stanley Kanzaki of New York City, who recently had his book, “The Issei Prisoners of San Pedro Internment Center” published, was kind enough to send me a copy.

Hopefully, I’ll have time to read it and give my review on the book before my next column.

Stanley is a Nisei born in San Francisco and during World War II was incarcerated at Tanforan Assembly Center and than Topaz Relocation Center.

After leaving Topaz, he grew up in New York City and later served during the Korean War with the Army’s MIS unit.

He attended Stetson University after leaving the service but upon graduation re-entered the Army as an officer.

When he completed this tour of duty, he received a New York City scholarship and graduated from Columbia University’s School of Social Work and worked as a social worker and consultant with the New York City Human Resources Administration. Upon retiring, he took up writing and became involved in various Japanese American organizations.

In his book, he creates a remarkable cast of Issei characters, accoding to the prologue in the book.

Well, I’ll see if his views of the Japanese American experience is a little different from other books written on the subject.


With all this talk about college grads having a tough time finding employment, perhaps some of our younger folks might consider going to Japan to study.

A recent survey in Japan showed that 11,040 foreign student graduates from Japanese colleges have found employment.

Most of them have been hired as translators and interpreters. And they get nice salaries, too.

Ah, naruhodo.

I wonder if an aging newspaper columnist who speaks the language might find a job in Japan.

Well, that just about does it for this edition of The Mouth.

Let me finish with this one aging folks and exercise:

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room on each side.


With a 5-lb potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.

Try to reach a full minute and then relax.

Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to a 10-lb potato bag.

Then try a 50-lb potato bag and then eventually try to get where you can lift a 100-lb potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.

After you feel confident at this level, put a potato in each bag.

Ha. I’ll bet you didn’t see that punch line coming.

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


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