By George Yoshinaga


Let’s all put our heads together and let out a roar of laughter. We’ve been “taken for a ride.”

Remember James Ito of Gardena’s letter to the Rafu in which he wrote, “if the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki batting average at season’s end is .350 or better I’ll run naked through the streets of Little Tokyo.”

Well, another reader named Yoshiko Takahashi mailed me this letter: “Dear George, Regarding James Ito’s naked walk through J-Town, don’t fall for the old trick. He will walk his pet dog named Naked.”Are you all laughing now?I guess I won’t have to get my camera ready to take a photo of Ito doing the running.
So, I’ll just bring along a can of dog food if Ichiro bats. 350 so Naked can have lunch.

Oh yeah, in addition to Yoshiko’s revelation about Ito’s dog, she also included a laugher which I’ll toss in to show my appreciation for her letting us know about Naked the dog.

This is her laugher:

Three men passed away and at the Pearly Gate, St. Peter gave them a chance to return to earth as anything other than human.

The first guy said he wanted to be an eagle and soar through the sky. His wish was granted and off he flew.

The second guy wanted to be a stud. His wish was granted and off he went.

The third guy asked St. Peter what did the two guys asked for. St. Peter said the first guy wanted to be an eagle and soar through the sky. But the second guy, I really don’t know why but he wanted to be a 2×4.

Hope all of you got the drift of the punch line.


Reader Shu Miyzazki adds to the controversy launched by Maggie regarding the pronunciation of “R” in the Japanese language. Wrote Shu:

“The controversy about the Japanese language as to whether it’s L or R has been going on for ages. It originated back in the late 1880s when a James Curtis Hepburn came up with the Hepburn Romanization of the kana table (katakana and hiragana).

“This is where he transcribed the Japanese sounds of the kana into Latin (or English) alphabet.

“As you may or may not know, the basic kana table consists of ten columns with five kanas in each column. The first column is A, I, U, E & O. The second being KA, KI, KU, KE, KO. The ninth column is RA, RI, RU, RE, RO. This romanization became the accepted form and that’s how it still remains. If Hepburn had selected LA, LI, LU, LE, LO for the ninth column, we would not have RA, RI RU, RE, RO. I have always argued that the sound actually falls in between the R and the L.

“When we make the R sound, the tip of the tongue goes back in the mouth without touching the roof of the mouth, whereas to make the L sound, it does.

When the Japanese say RA-RI-RU-RE-RO or LA-LI-LU-LE-L0, the tip of the tongue lightly touches the roof of the mouth, so in my opinion, LA-LI-LU-LE-LO is closer to the actual Japanese pronunciation.”

After reading Shu’s explanation of this issue, all I could think of was, “Naruhodo.” Please note, “naru” in the word is pronounced “nalu” by the Japanese.

Thanks, Shu. You can now go shoo shoo.


President Obama sees to be acknowledging his “Hawaiian ties” a little more these days.

This past week, the 44th President honored two Hawaiian public school teachers with the Presidential Award for Excellence.

About 100 science, math and engineering teachers were named for the award.

The two from Hawaii were both Japanese Americans: Liane Tanigawa teaches science at Pearlridge Elementary School, while Sean Yagi is a math coordinator at Ka’ewai Elementary.

Both will receive their award at a White House ceremony in the Fall.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in math and science is awarded annually to the best pre-college level science and math teachers from across the country.

Winners are selected by a panel of distinguished scientists and mathematicians and educators following an initial selection process done at the State level.

Award winners each receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation to be used at their own discretion.

In a statement, Obama said, “There is no higher calling than furthering the educational advancement of our nation’s young people and encouraging and inspiring our next generation of leaders.”

I think it’s great that two Nisei from Hawaii were recognized.


This week, there will be more attention paid to the Japanese in Hawaii because of the visit by the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

One of the issues that keeps popping up is whether the Royal couple should visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial. It is not on their schedule and there is a lot of pros and cons on their decision.

The Royal couple has scheduled a visit to the Punchbowl Cemetery where those interred are military veterans.

Will this visit stir up some controversy?


Zombi Yamamoto stirred up some old memories for me the other day with his e-mail as follows:

“Ken Miura, Professor Emeritus, Executive Director, Special Projects, invited my wife, Julia and me to take a tour of the latest facility at USC School of Cinematic Arts.

“We were thoroughly impressed by the great strides that the school has made since I graduated in 1957. Everything was the state of art and they’re still building more.

“Since Nisei Week is coming up, Ken remembered the days when he, you and Johnny Miyauchi were the main force behind almost everything that had to be done to make it successful, including the queen contest. It must have been very exciting for all of you. Ahh, sweet memories for all of you.”

Yeah, Zom, it does stir memories of those days of yore.

I guess today’s generation can’t imagine that guys like us contributed to the continuation of Nisei Week.

I guess one of these days I’ll have to get in touch with Ken so we can rehash those days.

Thanks for your e-mail, Zom.


With my birthday just around the corner I was thinking it might be nice if I could drive up to the city where I was born to celebrate the day.

I’m sure most people do celebrate their birthday in the city of their birth because they returned to their hometown after military service or evacuation

I was born in Redwood City in Northern California but after leaving military service, I decided to settle in Los Angeles.

So it would be kind of a chore to drive up to Redwood City and perhaps celebrate by having lunch there. Yes, they do have a couple of McDonald’s in Redwood City.

Who would have ever imagine that one day I would be too old to drive to the city of my birth?

By the way, whenever I mention that I was born in Redwood City, most people not familiar with Northern California think it’s located in the redwood country of California.

My Redwood City is located on the San Francisco Peninsula, a few miles north of Palo Alto, home of Stanford University.


Touching on the days of my youth, I don’t recall hearing of anyone owning a backyard swimming pool. So, most of the kids used to go to a nearby creek for their dip.

However, after a rain, there would be dead skunks and trash floating in the water so the kids used to opt to go to a public pool if they could get a ride from their folks.

Perhaps dead skunks and trash wasn’t that bad.

A recent survey showed that half of the swimmers pee in the pool. A 1,000 people were polled to uncover this stat.

A health group said that urine contains nitrogen which eats up the pool’s chlorine. Peeing in the pool may sound gross but there’s something even worse. People suffering from diarrhea using the pool.
So how can people control what is happening in the pool water? Well, hardware stores and pool supply stores sell easy-to-use testing strips which can measure the amount of contamination and chlorine in the water.

It is also suggested that for safety, pools should require that swimmers take a shower before jumping into the water.

Makes sense.

I know in Japan, where onsens are quite popular, those using the spa must bath thoroughly before getting into the hot tub.

Of course, swimming pools and onsens are quite different but the Japanese have an entirely different approach to public facilities.

I know that “gaijins” cause the Japanese to get quite uneasy at onsens.

From my personal experience, I concluded this.

It’s not bad where men and women bath in their own section but in onsens where men and women use the same hot tub, “gaijin” causes a lot of concern. So when I used to occasionally utilize the mixed bath facilities, I tried not to speak English.

If the ladies learned there was a “gaijin” in the same pool with them, they leaped out of the pool as if someone had yelled out, “Fire.”

Just a thought.

After reading about the survey, I’m glad I don’t go swimming anymore. Yes, I occasionally go out to the beach, but rarely go into the water.

The beaches aren’t too bad because if there is a danger of contamination, signs are posted warning swimmers not to go into the water.
With the hot weather hitting Southern California, I thought about going out to the beach, but I chose to have my wife spray me with the garden hose in our backyard. That way, she can keep me cool and also water our vegetables.

I’ll play the role of a potato.

While it is hot, it’s expected this time of the year.

Actually, when you check the weather in Vegas, it’s cool here in So. Cal.

It was 112 degrees the other day in Vegas, causing some to feel that the all-time heat record might be broken this coming week.

The record heat for Vegas is 116, set in 1959.

One thing about Vegas, especially for visitors like us, hot weather doesn’t mean much because we never step outside the casino.

In fact, I always take along a jacket even in the summer when I go to Vegas because with air-conditioning, it can get a bit chilly indoors.

Just a thought.


Got a couple of notes in which people concur with me on my comments on the Michael Jackson/Togo Tanaka matter.

Needless to day, those in agreement with me were the older generation.

As one Sansei said to me, “Oh, you old guys live in the past too much.”

Well, maybe the old JACL motto might have some weight as far as “living in the past” is concerned.

The JACL motto was “The Past is Prologue.” In other words, the past is what sets the stage for the present.

The Nisei are what they are because of the Issei generation.

So, I guess it can be said that the Sansei are what they are because they are Sansei

Maybe that sentence doesn’t make any sense.

Another reader who asked to remain anonymous wrote:

“You often write about Vegas and mention some of the people you know that are permanent residents of the city, not just visitors visiting the casinos. What about interviewing those you know about what it is like to be a resident of the city instead of a casual visitor. I am thinking about moving there but I’m concerned about what it’s like to be a permanent resident.

“I go to Vegas about five times a year but I haven’t the slightest idea what it would be like if I lived there 365 days of the year.”

Thanks for your inquiry.

It might be a good topic to write about, so on my next trip (the Heart Mountain Reunion, Aug. 31), I will see if I can get a permanent resident to let me interview him/her.

It might make an interesting story.

I know about 30 years ago, one of my neighbors in Gardena sold their home and moved to Vegas. In three years, they moved back.

Mainly, it was the hot weather in the summer time which made them move back. He told me, “We had to run the air conditioner 24-hours a day in the summer and the electric cost for a month was higher than for six months in Gardena.”

Today most of those who are moving to Vegas have a different slant.

The most commonly-heard phrases are, “no income tax, lifestyle, cost of living and more convenient transportation.”

Well, I’ll find out if I can get the interview.


A lot of folks think that the older Nisei generation have no sense of humor.

Well one aging Nisei provided this one which made me laugh:

“I went to a restaurant the other day, the waiter asked me for money up front because I am so old.”


Speaking of age, there was an article that fat people live longer than skinny folks. At least that is what a study in Japan uncovered.

This doesn’t mean that everyone should start looking like sumo wrestlers, but people who are slightly overweight live six to seven years longer than obese people.

A professor at a Japanese university, involved in the study said he expects thin people would show the shortest life span but didn’t expect the difference to be so large.

The study covered 50,000 people between the ages of 40 and 79 over a 12-year period.

Well, guess I can now ask my wife to serve me two bowls of rice instead of the one she cut me back on. Right now I guess I don’t consider myself chubby. My weight is 182 pounds.

That’s about six pounds over what they often refer to as “high school weight.”

Well, in high school some of my friends called me, “Fatso.”


Over the past year or so I’ve mentioned that I was tinkering with the thought of ending my writing career but because of the many kind words of encouragement from reader, I chucked the idea.

Perhaps it was a good decision.

The other day I read the last column written by Ben Stein in which he wrote his last “retirement column.”

He had been a columnist for many, many years. This was his opening paragraph:

“As I begin to write this, it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.

“It worked well for a long time but gradually, my changing as a person and the world’s change have overtaken it. Beyond that, bigger changes have happened.”

Stein’s statement kind of opened my eyes. I would guess I’ve been writing longer than he has and like him, I have noticed changes, but in my case the changes might have been for the better.

So I guess Rafu will be stuck with me until I get struck by lightening.

No, I won’t shave off my ugly ass mustache as one reader described me.

I hope I can continue to entertain all of you out there in readerland.

So, until the next column, “gambarimasu.”
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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