HORSE’S MOUTH: Another Busy, Busy Weekend



(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on March 23, 2010)


Perhaps I should post a sign on my front lawn to remind me to “slow down.”

When we flipped over the calendar to the year 2010 a few months ago, I vowed to slow down my pace.

Well, if this past weekend is an example of how much I slowed down, I’d better review my calendar. I was more like a

Toyota automobile with a stuck accelerator.

On Friday, I drove out to Cerritos to my niece’s home for dinner. She was hosting another niece who flew down from San Jose. That would be Donna Kato, Fashion Editor and columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.  She’s been with the Mercury for nearly 20 years.

The Mercury News is one of California’s larger daily newspapers.

Naturally, we chatted about the problems the print media is facing these days. The Mercury has also felt the sting. Donna said the staff at her newspaper has been reduced by nearly 50 percent.

She wanted to know about the Rafu because she is familiar with what happened to San Francisco’s two daily vernacular papers, the Nichi Bei Times and Hokubei Mainichi.

All I could tell her was that the Rafu is addressing many of the problems it is facing these days.

Donna visited the Japanese National Museum in Little Tokyo during her visit and she said she noticed that J-Town has changed so much since her last visit a few years ago.

Naturally, I asked her about San Jose’s J-Town and she said it has been pretty much the same, although there has been a lot of residential development around the area.

I told her ditto for Little Tokyo with so many new apartment complexes popping up in the area.

Knowing that I’m no spring chicken, she asked me how much longer I was going to keep writing.

I laughed and told her, “I guess as long as the Rafu can put up with me.”

At any rate, it was great to get together again with Donna.

A bit of irony may be that Donna lives in the suburb of San Jose in an area called Willow Glen. The irony is that in the early 30s I grew up on my parents’ farm in Willow Glen.

These days, people can’t believe that the area was once mainly farmland with a lot of prune orchards.

We grew strawberries on our farm.

Ah, memories.


Continuing with the saga on “busy weekend,” on Saturday night I was invited by Dr. Nolan Maehara to the Nisei Week Luau held at the Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple.

Although it wasn’t that well-publicized, the event had a great turnout. I estimated that 500 people attended the luau.

The food was great and I enjoyed meeting a lot of folks I don’t usually get to see.

I have to thank Nolan whose Dad sat at our table. Nolan’s Dad is one of the few remaining links to what we call the “good old days of Little Tokyo.” He operated the Anzen Hardware store in J-Town.

I always referred to him as “Maehara-san,” and never learned his first name.

And, I guess in the old days, he probably referred to me as one of “Nihonmachi yogores.” Just kidding, “Maehara-san.”

The entertainment was mainly provided by Hawaiian musicians including hula dancers.

I guess if there was one negative thing I could write about the evening was that the hula dancing was a bit long, about two hours. Heck, towards the end, my eyeballs were shaking as much as the hips of the hula dancers.

On the positive side again, the reigning Nisei Week Queen greeted me which was a surprise because I didn’t think she ever heard of me. She reads the Rafu.

Also, the emcee for the evening was Tamlyn Tomita, a former Nisei Week Queen. She’s as attractive and charming today as she was when she reigned over the Festival as the Queen.

Yeah, she mentioned my name on the mike, which made “my night.”

Also got to chat with Hayato Tamura, the chairman of Nisei Week. I hope I can get together with him some time so I can put in my two cents worth on the Festival, which will get underway, Aug. 15 this year.

Everyone in attendance had an enjoyable evening from my observation.

Since Rafu staffer, Michael Culross was covering the event, I’m sure he’ll write more about the event from a “news standpoint.”  I’ll just limit my report to my personal opinion.

On Sunday, I drove in the opposite direction to Arcadia, about two blocks from the Santa Anita Race Track. No, I wasn’t going to the races.

One of my sons moved to a new residence in the area so he invited the rest of the family to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, Din Tai Fung. Surprisingly, the restaurant also has a facility in Japan. Their specialty is Chinese-style dumplings.

I don’t know if it was because it was Sunday, but we had to wait one hour to get a table. Usually, when I go to an eatery and see a long line waiting, I ask the hostess how long it would be before I can get a table. If I am told it would be longer than 30 minutes, I’m gone.

However, after driving all the way from Gardena to Arcadia, I stuck it out.

Almost all the patrons were Chinese which is not surprising because that area of the San Gabriel Valley is heavily populated with ethnic Chinese.

After finishing dinner and driving on Garfield Ave. towards the 10 Freeway, I was amazed that almost all of the buildings were occupied by Chinese businesses. There were Chinese characters printed on almost every building I looked at.

Getting back to the Din Tai Fung. Their specialty, the dumplings, are  great. If any of you are ever in the neighborhood and want to give it a try, drop in. It’s located on Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia near the racetrack.

Kind of expensive, but if their quality of food is good, it doesn’t matter.

And that was the weekend.

To take a break, I’m thinking I’ll hop in the car on Monday morning and head out to the Pechanga Indian casino, even if my intent is not to gamble but just to get a change of pace.

Well, time to get back to my usual routine, which, of course, starts with a letter from reader, Gordon Saiki.

Gordon wrote: “Dear Horse, my mother and I read your column religiously and I think I would write to you about an experience I encountered several years ago regarding the word, ‘Jap.’

“We moved to Gardena from Hawaii in 1956 and my father was a tech sergeant in the 442nd Regiment and my mother was interned in Jerome, Arkansas, during the war. Obviously, they hated that three letter word with a vengeance.

“My best friends Bob Takahashi and Russell Morimoto had recently purchased a vintage Corvette and asked me to attend a monthly Corvette Club meeting in Manhattan Beach.

“In that initial meeting, I was introduced to the majority of the Caucasian membership, when suddenly, the sergeant of arms asked everyone to please be seated and barked out, ‘Where is prince and the jap?’

“My blood pressure instantly pegged out and I noticed my friends giggling at my expression. They begged me not to say or do anything. I have a tendency to speak my mind. To my amazement, the president and vice president made their way to the front officers table. Their names were Jim Japp, who is Scandinavian and the other guy was Doug Prince. These guys are called Japp and Prince every day.”

Gosh, that’s some story.

Heh, maybe someone should invite Jim Japp to a Japanese community event.

Won’t that get a laugh when the emcee says, “At this time I would like to introduce our special guest, Mr. Japp.”

I don’t recall seeing it in any of the local media outlets, but the Japan Times ran as one of their top stories recently that the death of Kazuyoshi Miura in a Los Angeles jail was declared suicide by the County’s District Attorney’s office.

It was stated that there was no evidence that the detention officers or jail personnel used force against Miura.

Miura was found hanging in his cell. Miura’s family members, however, said, “We still can’t believe he was the kind of person who would take his own life.”

While sightseeing in Los Angeles in 1981, Kazumi Miura, Kazuyoshi’s wife, who was 28 at the time, was shot in the head and died from complications a year later in Japan.

Her husband was charged in the killing and arrested in Feb. 2008 on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the slaying.

These days, every time we turn around, there’s a story about the wartime relocation of Japanese Americans and their life in the internment camps.

The reason this thought hit me was that I don’t ever recall how the construction of the 10 camps was funded and how much it cost the government to build facilities which would house 120,000 people.

Has there ever been anything written about this?

And was there any opposition against the government spending that kind of money which must have been required to build the 10 camps?

I thought about this because I read a story in one of the Hawaiian newspapers about the homeless situation there and the thought of the government building a “camp” to house them.

Would there be an outburst of protest if someone suggested that the government build a “relocation center” for the homeless?

It would be interesting to find out just how much it did cost the U.S. government, not only to build the relocation centers, but how much was spent on transporting the Japanese Americans to states like Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

And I don’t think it was any less expensive to convert places like the Santa Anita Race Track and the Pomona Fairgrounds into “assembly centers.”

I’m curious if Hawaii will be the first to build a “relocation camp” for the homeless so they can “evacuate” them from public parks where they now set up tents in which to live.

A little add on my chatter with my niece about the future of the print media.

Friend, George Wakiji, sent me a chart showing where Americans get their news on a typical day:

“59 percent get theirs online and off-line. Off-line only (print media) has 38 percent. Online only, surprisingly, has only two percent. And one percent don’t follow the news at all.”

Hey, maybe, there is still hope for the print media.


Here’s another bit of interesting statistics.

Many of us do, on occasion, drop our food.

It is often said that if the dropped food is on the ground for 5 seconds or less, it’s still safe to eat.

So, a question was asked during the survey, how many would actually eat food they dropped on the floor even if it’s less than 5 seconds?

Surprisingly, 65 percent asked this question, said they would eat the food they dropped, while 35 percent responded, “No way.”

As far as I’m concerned, I guess it’s a matter of where the food is dropped.

I know my wife cleans both areas daily so I might pop whatever I dropped into my mouth.

In a public place, no way. I don’t care if it’s only for two seconds. I just pick it up and toss it into the nearest trash can.

So, they opened a new airport in Japan in Ibaraki. Twenty years ago, if someone told me that, I would have responded, “Where’s Ibaraki?

Today, I’m probably more familiar with Ibaraki than most other places in Japan. That’s because my youngest son’s wife is from there, which means, of course, every time I have made a trip to Japan, it included at least a week’s stay in Ibaraki.
Hey, can you imagine how much money I saved staying at my in-laws home for a week?

At any rate, the new airport in Ibaraki was opened last week and will have flights from Korea landing there.

Don’t know if any U.S. carrier will eventually land there but if they do, it sure would be nice flying directly from L.A. to Ibaraki. No waiting around Narita or having to take the bus into Tokyo to catch the train to Ibaraki.

Ibaraki is a country prefecture so I’m not sure why the Japanese Government decided to open an airport there.
How much did it cost to build the airport in Ibaraki? What about a cool $243 million.

Oh well…

Oh yeah, since I mentioned about the large Chinese population in the San Gabriel Valley, I’m sure some of you may have heard that driving in Monterey Park is dangerous.

Could it be that recent arrivals in the U.S. brought over their bad driving habits with them?

There was a story printed recently which said that in China, the drivers rarely use turn signals or windshield wipers or seat belts or headlights.

They like to tailgate. They pass on hills and they pass on turns. If they get passed themselves, they immediately try to pass the other vehicle back, as if it were a game.

I’ve driven in the area a number of times, but I haven’t seen any of the stuff that was written in the article.

Yes, now that one of the Rafu’s writers responded to fellow columnist Wimp Hiroto’s remarks about the Rafu, I guess I’ll keep an eye on how this whole affair turns out.

No, I won’t toss in my two-cents worth because I have a lot of other things I have to discuss.

One of them is a letter which stated that the executives at the Go For Broke Foundation have given themselves a raise in wages.

He asks, “If this is true, how can they do this in this economic times?”

Does anyone from the Foundation want to respond?


Here’s a giggler for you senior citizens. This one can be headed, “Questions and Answers from the AARP Forum.”

Q: Where can men over the age of 80 find younger, attractive women who are interested in them?

A: Try the bookstore under fiction.

Q: Why should 80-plus-year-old people use valet parking?

A: Valets don’t forget where they park your car.

Q: Where should 80-plus-year-old people look for eye glasses?

A: On their foreheads.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached by e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


1 Comment

  1. Craig Yabuta on

    My father, Shoji Yabuta, 82, passed away peacefully in his home on March 22. I placed his obituary in the Rafu and went on-line to see if it was posted. While on the website I came across the Horse’s column. I hadn’t read the column in years but I remembered that my dad loved to read it when I was a kid. So I read it. Reading it reminded me of my dad. Thanks.

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