HORSE’S MOUTH

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YOSHINAGA, GEORGE

By George Yoshinaga
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Latest report from the arrival area at the international terminal at LAX.

One word, Horrible!

Went to pick up my daughter-in-law and two grandkids on Wednesday and had to wait over two hours after their flight landed.

My daughter-in-law said it was caused by the shortage of personnel at the customs and immigration counter. Her flight was full, which means about 350 passengers were being cleared but over two hours? It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered such a long wait.

For a while I thought maybe they missed the flight in Tokyo so they didn’t make the flight.

However, it’s a good thing we now have cell phones. I called her and she said she was on the ground but the line was long and slow.

At any rate, it was good to welcome them back even after such a tiresome wait.

Anyone having to pick up friends at the international terminal had better have patience.

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I used to be a member of the Japanese American Republican Club more popularly known as JARS. Please note, I said “used to be.” I resigned from the organization about three years ago.

It wasn’t the leadership or anything like that. I felt that I wasn’t contributing to the organization and by the same token, the group wasn’t really accomplishing too much to help the Republican cause.

Gavin Wasserman was the President and I think he did the best he could under the circumstances.

Well, I say “was” because I just received an e-mail from Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s office informing me that Gavin has resigned his post.

His place will be taken by Roger Minami, a well-known figure in the political world. I don’t know if this switch in leadership will make the media circuit but just in case it doesn’t, I thought I would toss it in.

I’m still a stout Republican so I wish Roger the best of luck in guiding the JARS.

The Republicans sure need a shot-in-the-arm these days.

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In response to the little piece I did on Steve Tamaya, Yosh Nakamura sent me an e-mail which read: “Thanks for writing the glowing comments about Steve Tamaya. He was indeed a very talented and dedicated reporter. He was also my friend whom I’ve known for many years as a pre-college student to his outstanding work as writer and editor of El Paisano (school paper) of Rio Hondo College and later as the superb writer for the Whittier Daily News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Pasadena Star News. We crossed paths with him on one of the 442nd RTC Reunions in Hawaii and a quick trip to Maui. He was reporting for the Maui News.

“We both asked, ‘What are you doing here in Maui?’ It was a memorable reunion. Steve Scauzillo, whom you mentioned, is not only a reporter but is the Editorial Page Editor of the Whittier Daily News.”

Oh, by the way, Yosh is the retired Vice President of Rio Hondo College.

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A recent survey report indicated that President Obama’s approval rating dropped for the first time since he moved into the White House.

However, another survey taken by the Pew Research Center, his approval rate in 23 of the 24 nations surveyed indicated his approval was soaring.

In Japan, for instance, his approval rating was 85 percent. The Japanese feel that Obama will do the right thing in world affairs triple that of the rating given to former President George Bush.

Of course, perhaps the fact there is a city in Japan called, “Obama,” might have a slight influence on the thinking of the Japanese.

Well, we have three more years of his presidency to find out if the 23 nations are correct in their analysis of Obama.

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Talk about crazy names.

There’s a sushi restaurant called Crazy Tokyo Sushi Restaurant located in Woodland Hills at 21841 Ventura Blvd.

This bit of information was sent to me by a reader. If any of you are in that neighborhood, you might give
it a try.

It’s owned by Eddie Edo, who despite his “Anglo” name, is originally from Japan.

Some of his dishes have names like Samurai Deluxe and Seaweed Salad. However, his favorite is freshwater eel.

Crazy Sushi was awarded the Daily News Readers’ Choice Award for the best sushi.

And, the best part. Compared to a lot of other sushi eateries, the prices are very reasonable.

And, as the reader who mailed me the info noted, “finally, a sushi place run by a Japanese.”

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While most of us are aware that sushi restaurants are pricey places to dine, we also know that those eateries that offer Kobe Beef have prices that are not affordable for, say, newspaper columnists.

Well, perhaps we can enjoy the delicacy of Kobe Beef without the high price tag is the beef produced by Snake River Farm which takes its place on the menu of steakhouses.

Believe it or not, it’s called American Kobe Beef. The producer crosses Japanese Kobe cattle with Black Angus to come up with American Kobe Beef.

At the present time, Bristol Farm stores in Westlake Village, Valencia, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Long Beach, Pasadena and Westwood carry American Kobe Beef.

Oh yes, they also have American Kobe Beef hot dogs.

Hot dog! Lead me to them.

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We’re in the middle of baseball season but every once in while, football manages to squeak in.

A letter from Roy Uno accomplishes this.

He wrote me: “Hi, George. When is someone going to do a story on Rocky Seto, the defensive coordinator for the USC Trojan football team? I saw him speak on Trojan TV and he is definitely Nisei. Check with the USC sports information department.”

Well, maybe the Rafu Sports Editor, if he ever tunes into my column station might check into it.

Since SC is one of college football’s powerhouses, it would seem that Seto would provide an interesting story for the readers of this publication.

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Also from readerland, a missive from Dr. Frank Sakamoto of Denver, who is Chairman of the National JACL 1000 Club.

He wrote: “Yes, we all enjoy your articles and jokes. Talk about your mustache, everyone around me at the National JACL Convention a while back in Monterey, stated that you are a very impressive person, standing tall, as well as your mannerism of helping people off and on the buses. Keep on banging on the keyboard. Yes, if they are criticizing your articles, they are still reading them as well as a laugher or two.”

Thanks, Frank. I can always use a morale booster.

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When I opened today’s chatter by mentioning that I picked up my granddaughters from their two and a half month visit to Japan, I meant to write about my talk with them about their experiences there.

The grandkids are Sansei so it might be of interest to readers howSansei observes Japan during such a lengthy stay.

The first thing I asked them was, “What did you eat most of the time?

Their reply: “Rice and miso soup.”

“What about McDonald’s?” I asked.

Their reply: “We had hamburgers, too, but not at McDonald’s. We ate at Mossburger.”

Mossburger is Japan’s answer to McDonald’s for those of you who may not know.

I know when I visit Japan, my choice is also Mossburger over Mc- Donald’s.

The other thing they enjoyed was staying in Hokkaido for about two weeks.

The reason? They didn’t see too many gaijins there as they did in places like Tokyo.

Of course, it was a little colder in Hokkaido than in Tokyo, but they felt good about that, too.

Although the grandkids’s primary language is English, they are both proficient in Japanese.

So, it probably aroused the curiosity of American tourists who might have overheard them chatting in English in places crowded with tourists.

Yeah, they look very Japanese so I can imagine what the American might be thinking. “Hey, those Japanese kids over there speak English like an American.” To which I might add my usual, “Heh, heh.”

It was quite different when I lived in Japan. It’s a story I might have touched on a few times.

That is, I used to drive a car when I lived in Tokyo so once in a while I would be stopped by the officer for some dumb bit of driving I might have committed. When that happened, I would talk to the officer in English.

I avoided getting a lot of tickets that way because the officer would mumble (in Japanese), “Hey, this guy is a gaijin.” And he would send me on my way.

Overall my grandkids liked Japan but, of course, America is still their home so they were glad to get home.

And sleep on their mattress bed instead of the tatami beds they slept on their relatives’ home.

Well, kids will be kids.

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I probably mentioned it in one of my columns but a Nisei mailed me a book he wrote. I don’t know if he wanted to give my take-on but since I’m certainly not a literary expert by any stretch of imagination, I thought I would pass on giving my opinion.

In this day and age, there have been a lot of books written by Japanese
American authors because we have a lot of talent out there. Which made me wonder if I could write something about JAs and produce a book.

So, since I have nothing better to do today, I thought, “Hey, why not?”

No, not a book but touch on the subject of Japanese Americans.

So, if I were going to produce something, my first chapter might go something like this: (Perhaps if followers of this feel it’s interesting enough, I might even attempt an entire book). Today’s Nisei generation are in their mid-80s and early 90s. As old or older than their Issei parents were before they left us.

However, most Nisei have retained the philosophy ingrained by their Issei parents.

Our Issei parents arrived in America and faced racial bias which more often bordered on pure hate.

However, the Issei emphasized to their offspring Nisei that they were Americans in spite of the attitude of other Americans towards them. Loyalty to America was the lesson they preached.

They also instilled in them that because they were of Japanese ethnicity, they had to prove they were equal of all other Americans. To accomplish this, they had to set their goals as high as they could and achieve those goals.

That would mean excelling in education and speaking the language of their country, America. This probably made the Nisei generation more unique than most other ethnic groups.

When the Nisei generation was growing up and they socialized with each other, they spoke English.

This was not always the case with other ethnic groups, where the language of their immigrant parents was what they used when conversing among themselves.

On top of all this, the Issei also stressed the importance of recognizing authority.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why when the U.S. Government ordered all Japanese Americans, citizens or not, incarcerated in relocation camps, the movement was accomplished peacefully without any mass opposition.

Ironically, Japanese words such as “shi-kata-ga-nai” (“can’t be helped”) and “ga-man” (“patience”) which were instilled in the Nisei described their attitude at the time of evacuation.

The Issei’s “be loyal to America” was also the guiding light in the Nisei volunteering to serve in the military in spite of their parents being detained in interment camps.

I know that early in life I probably could be described as being a “brat.”

However, my father had a different punishment for me when my behavior differed from being a “brat” then when I challenged his authority.

It was punishment which if applied today, probably my Issei father would be charged with “child abuse.” But it was a practice I was told later, that was frequently applied in Japan.

It was called “ya-ito.” A piece of material which resembled the tip of a string, which was placed on the skin between the thumb and index finger. The string would be lit with an incense and it would burn into the skin.

Despite the pain, I could not express the pain it caused. If I did, another one was applied.

It didn’t take long for me to change my childish behavior against authority.

Needless to say, after all these years, I still have the scars that the punishment caused. However, when I look at the scars today, I feel a bit of gratitude that it changed my behavior and hopefully, it helped me in my life.

I’m not sure if this kind of practice was carried out all over Japan or if it was something restricted to the prefecture my father grew up in.

I know when I relate my experience as a youth to my Sansei sons, they just think it’s a great story I concocted to keep them in line when they were growing into adulthood.
Even when I showed them the scars from the “ya-ito.”

Well, folks, the foregoing is what I might include if I ever wrote a book on what I might title, “The Nisei Experiences in Growing Up.”

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When I mention boxing, thoughts quickly move to places like Las Vegas.

However, there’s a boxing program slated each year in the City of Carson. It’s not at any large arena. The site is the Carson Community Center.

And like they do in Europe, it’s a dinner-show boxing. That is, the fans get to enjoy a great dinner before the bouts get underway.

The reason I learned about this is that last year, Carson’s City Clerk, Helen Kawagoe, invited me and my wife to attend a match. She extended an invitation again this year.

In fact, last year, Helen saved a seat at the same table as the Mayor of Carson, James Dear.

Just thought I’d toss this in to express my appreciation to Helen.

Hey, when do I get a chance to sit with a Mayor of a city for dinner?

On the other hand, maybe the Mayor might lose his appetite when he finds out who is sitting at the same table.

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Okay, time to move and leave you all with the usual smile on your faces.

Try this one:

Takeshi was dying. His wife sat at his bedside.

He looked up and said weakly, “I have something I must confess.”

“There’s no need,” his wife replied.

“No,” Takeshi insisted, “I want to die in peace.”

So he said, “I slept with your sister, your best friend and your mother.”

His wife responded, “I know. Now just rest and let the poison work.”

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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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