HORSE’S MOUTH: No Shoyu or Rice

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on March 9, 2010)

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Generally, I try not to touch on issues which may be considered a bit controversial, but when I have to fill two pages a week in the Rafu, it can’t be avoided all the time.

One of those issues is the controversy over the name of a new hotdog product which has been labeled, “Japadog.”

Many Japanese Americans feel offended by the name because it includes, “Jap.” Ironically, the new product was introduced by a Japanese.

For those of us who experienced the era after Dec. 7, 1941, “Jap” is a sensitive word to be sure. We were called, “dirty Japs, “yellow Japs,” “sneaky Japs” and a lot more offensive names.

However, in this day and age I feel that intent, rather than the definition of the word, is the key factor.

Hey, many of us got into fisticuffs when we defended ourselves from the hostile use of “Jap.”

I don’t feel offended by the name, “Japadog.” Perhaps the founder of the hotdog should have added an “n” after “Jap” and called his product, “Japandog.”

However, when I heard about “Japadog,” I didn’t feel the same sting as when I was called a “dirty Jap” after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Okay, maybe I sound like a “stupid Jap” for taking this position. So be it.

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Another touchy issue is the recent murder of a teenager who was killed by a convicted sexual predator.

I feel for the family of the victim. However, the mother has been blaming the prosecutor for allowing the killer to get only a short prison stay. She is also blaming the law in its handling of sexual predators.

The thought that comes to mind when I read about her statements about the law and those who prosecute the criminals is, why is it she allowed her attractive teenage daughter to go jogging in an isolated area alone?

Just another thought.
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This next segment is not to be classified as something I often label as a “laugher.” It really happened.

This past Sunday, with nothing much to do, I decided to drive out to Hollywood Park to watch the off-track betting from Santa Anita.

I was really on fire.

I had placed a bet on the third race and sat down to watch it on the large TV screen in front   of the grandstand. I lit my cigar with my lighter and put the lighter in my pants’ pocket.

For some reason, the flame from the lighter didn’t go out, but I wasn’t aware of it. My pants caught on fire.

Fortunately, the guy sitting near me noticed the flame and rolled up his racing form and started to beat on my pants.

Although  a large part of my pants burned along with the jacket I was wearing, I didn’t get seriously burned because of the guy’s quick action.

When it was over, I had to pick up the coins and other stuff such as my car keys which was in the burned-out pocket. Fortunately, a lot of people helped pick up the coins and other stuff and nobody ran off with anything.

It’s an experience I won’t soon forget.

Now I might not hesitate to say, “Man, I caught on fire at the race track.”
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Chatting about languages, a reader wrote the following:

“Aloha. check your gibiki for the definition of the word, “hogen.”

“Regarding your proclivity to make fun of Japanese words into something funny is funny. However, here are some of your usuals such as 544 as “go shi shi,” but shi shi is a boar. Ino shi shi is a wild boar. Happa is a leaf. Obama is a small bay.

“O is small and bama is bay. Hama (bay) with nigori can be read bama. As Toyoda is written toyota.

“Here are a few more: ‘Kanakas say chiso, but it is shiso at Marukai. Another common plant is called naruten, most likely by your wife, but it is really nanten at nurseries.

“Just thought I would give you something to write about. Hope Rafu can find some funds to have you continue your writings that I always look forward to reading.”

Thanks for your note. I won’t mention your name as requested.
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Another reader who asked to remain anonymous added this:

“Read your article regarding Japanese language schools in Gardena and have a few comments.

“The Buddhist Church and JCI offer various daily, weekend and evening classes for children and adults. When my children (’80 and’83 graduates) were at Peary Jr. High, Japanese classes were offered as well as at Gardena High. However, what they learned in school was not carried home since we Nisei parents speak English. What a shame that we are losing the ability to speak our own language. Since my Issei parents are gone, I hardly ever use Japanese to converse. I took a semester of Japanese conversation at El Camino College and it was a refreshing  experience.

“On the other hand, there are youngsters born in Japan, who come here, attend school and speak  both flawless Japanese and English with hardly an accent. Their language skills must be an asset on the job when dealing with Japanese-speaking clients.

“That was a great article in the L.A. Times which appeared recently about the Rafu. Makes you wonder why we lack subscribers and advertisers. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Korean newspapers seem to thrive because they reach a large group who speak their native language.

“Would like to pass a note to Jordan Ikeda, Sports Editor, regarding the women’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics. I was pleased to learn that he felt the same as we did when U.S. skater Nagasu “lost” the Bronze medal to Canadian Rochelle. The sentiments of the judges must have taken over. Mirai outperformed Rochelle. Most likely the medal went to her out of sympathy, due to her age and being from the host country. Nagasu certainly took her loss graciously, not like the Russian male skater that lost the Gold medal to the U.S. skater.

“I also agree. They should toss out events in which the contestants are judged not by “real” head-to-head competition such as races.”

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They didn’t win any titles at the State high school wrestling championships held in Bakersfield this past weeked, but Daniel Wada and Masato Fuskushima should be congratulated for making it to the elite competition.

The two North Torrance High School wrestlers performed well but were edged out for the titles in their weight division.

Fukushima won five matches in a row before he lost in the finals.

Both are underclassmen so they may get another shot in 2011.

At any rate congratulations to both of them for making it to the State finals.
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No, you’re not imagining things if you think the traffic is bad in Ellay. Los Angeles was rated No. 1 in U.S. for traffic congestion. Second was New York.

Surprisingly, I thought the traffic in San Francisco was almost as bad as L.A. but the Bay City was No. 7 in the top ten worst rankings.

To put into time lost, L.A. drivers spend an extra 35 percent of time in their cars due to the traffic congestion.

Well, maybe I’ll cut back on my driving and take the Gardena bus when I visit Little Tokyo this coming week.

Hey, the Gardena bus travels right through J-Town. I only have to walk less than half a block from the bus stop to the Rafu office.

Heck, when I drive, I have to keep circling around until I find an open parking on the street, usually about three blocks away.

I know some of you may wonder, “How come you don’t put your car in one of the parking lots?” Hey, the lowest priced one on Second St., charges a minimum of 4 bucks.

The bus fare for senior citizens on the Gardena bus is 50 cents one way, and a buck, round trip. That’s three dollars less than putting the car in a parking lot. Besides, I also have to consider that I  burn about a gallon of gas driving from Gardena.

Okay, so I’m a cheapskate.
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Seems like this business of awarding Japanese American students who were denied their chance for a college degree because of evacuation is spreading like wild fire.

Almost every day I get an e-mail from another California college announcing that it is awarding degrees to these Nisei. The latest is San Diego State, (SDSU).

They are spreading the word about being part of the California Nisei College Diploma Project.

“In the words of Stephen L. Weber, President of SDSU, “I am asking for your help with contacting family and friends about this opportunity. If you know someone who would be eligible to receive this honorary degree, I encourage you to provide them with information on how to obtain a Nisei College Diploma Application form.”

Commencement exercises for those receiving their degrees will be held at SDSU on May 17, 2010.

If there are any out there who are eligible for the SDSU degree, contact Kristina Moller at (619) 594-8724 or [email protected]

Good luck.

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I’m sure all of you who dine out occasionally know that  these days, when one sits down in a restaurant, the waiter/waitress will hand the patrons in addition to the menu, a chart providing what they list as “nutritional information,” mainly the contents of such things as the amount of salt in each order.

I don’t look at the chart. However, maybe I should.

For example, I looked at one of the charts passed out by Yoshinoya Beef Bowl and noticed that their large chicken bowl contains 2,436 milligrams of sodium.

Dietitians say that people should not consume more than 2,300 milligrams in one day. So, a chicken bowl has more sodium than a whole day’s worth of salt.

I know when I go in for my physical check-up, my doctor asks me, “Have you cut  soy sauce out of your diet?”

I laugh and say, “Doc, if I can’t pour shoyu on my meal, I might as well jump in the ocean.”

He, of course, doesn’t appreciate my humor.

Next thing he’ll probably suggest is that I give up rice.

No rice or shoyu? Heck, I’ve gotten this far stuffing myself with both.

Oh well.

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In all the recent furor about Tiger Woods, I don’t think it received any mention but recently someone told me, “Did you know that Tiger is a Buddhist?”

In one story about Tiger, the famed golfer, was quoted as saying, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.”

In referring not to Christian values but to the Buddhist values instilled in him by his Thai mother, he said he stopped living by core values. In changing his lifestyle it won’t be to turn to Christianity,but to return to Buddhist values.

Kind of surprised me.
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Kind of ties in with the previous segment.

It’s a short story about John.

He was a salesman’s delight when it came to any kind of unusual gimmicks. His wife, Marsha, had long ago given up trying to change him.

One day, John came home    with another one of his unusual purchases. It was a robot that John claimed was actually a lie detector. It was about 5:30 that afternoon when Tommy, their 11-year-old son returned from school. Tommy was over two hours late.

“Where have you been? Why are you over two hours late getting  home?” asked John.

“Several of us went to the library to work on an extra credit project,” said Tommy.

The robot walked around the table and slapped Tommy, knocking him completely out of his chair.

“Son, John said, “this robot is a lie detector, now tell us where you really were after school.”

“We went to Bobby’s house and watched a movie,” said Tommy.

“What did you watch?” asked Martha.

“The Ten Commandments,” answered Tommy.

The robot went around to Tommy and once again slapped him, knocking him off the chair.

With his lip quivering Tommy got up, sat down and said, “I’m sorry I lied. We really watched a tape called, Sex Queen.”

“I’m ashamed of you son,” said John. “When I was your age, I never lied to my parents.”

The robot walked around to John and delivered a whack that nearly knocked him out of his chair.

Marsha doubled over in laughter, almost in tears and said, “Boy, did you ever ask for that one. You can’t be too mad with Tommy. After all, he is your son.”

The robot walked around to Marsha and knocked her out of her chair.

Heh. heh.
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Oh well, let me take you across the Pacific to Japan.

Those of you who have visited Japan as a tourist, probably included a visit to the Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward. It has long been a symbol of Tokyo.

Well, it seems that Tokyo Tower is going to have a rival as far as tourist attractions go.

Tokyo Tower is 333-meters tall.

A new building called the Sky Tree rising 634  meters is going up in Sumida Ward and will be open in two years.

This has caused Tokyo Tower to scramble to survive as a tourist spot.

A total of 161 million people have visited Tokyo Tower since it opened in 1958. A spokesman for the Tower said he hoped the number of visitors will continue even after Sky Tree opens.

One advantage that Sky Tree will have is that it is closer to the traditional downtown district of Tokyo.

With Japan building more and more high rise type buildings, I am curious how they will stand up when the “big one” hits. That is, an earthquake is so common to Japan.

I’ve lived in Japan long enough to experience some pretty violent earthquakes and I’m thankful I was never in one of the tall buildings when the quake hit.

Well, maybe in Los Angeles one of these days.
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You might have to be a little on the older side to get a kick out of today’s laugher. It’s entitled, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto.” Remember them? Well, here it is:

The Lone Ranger and Tonto went camping in the desert. After they got their tent all set up, both men fell sound asleep.

Some hours later, Tonto wakes the Lone Ranger and says, “Kemo-sabe, took toward the sky, what do you see?”

The Lone Ranger replies, “I see a million stars.”

“What does that tell you?” asked Tonto.

The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute then says, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo.

Timewise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three  in the morning. Theologically, the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, its seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.”

“What does it tell you, Tonto?”

“You dummer than buffalo kukai,” Tonto fires back, “It means someone stole the tent.”

What? Nobody is laughing?

Okay, wind up with this one:

I went down this morning to sign up my dog for welfare.

At first the lady said, “Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare.”

So, I  explained to her that my dog is unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no clue who his daddy is.

So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify.

My dog gets his check Friday. Damn, this is a great country.

I guess only my Republicans friends  can get a chuckle out of this one.
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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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2 Comments

  1. George:

    I stumbled upon your article after clicking on a link inside my daily Google search results for Hollywood Park. I work in Security and responded to your pants-on-fire incident. I have been working here for over 26 years and I am sure you are the first one to successfully place a lit cigarette lighter in his pants pocket and have the flame stay lit long enough to set the surrounding pants material on fire. Not to mention doing all that and having the presence of mind to extinguish the flame before all of your clothing caught fire. Not an easy task for an amateur.

    If I had known at the time that you were a writer, I may have thought you were simply performing a publicity stunt to drum up content for your article. We all know that good content is hard to come by. All risk and no upside potential, I concluded. All kidding aside, I hope you were able to find your car keys and you were not hurt in any way from this incident.

    You have an interesting article and I liked the jokes. I will subscribe and read future articles.

    Take Care.
    Capt. M. Bragg

  2. I work with JA’s (Japanese Americans), that grew up on the West-side, and around the Montebello area. Where as, I grew up in Gardena. My question is: Don’t you think, that while growing up, the kids that grew up around haku-jin (caucasian), and afro-american kids think different, values are different, attitudes are different, than the kids like me that grew up JA’s in Gardena. I mean, that while , I’m the quiet, non-aggressive type, these guy’s are loud, dis-respectful, and have bad attitudes toward other people. Maybe, it’s just the way the parents taught, or didn’t teach their kids. Maybe, its just the way the world is now-a-days. Maybe, that’s the way one has to be, to be successful in these times today. Too bad.
    Just my thoughts, and ramblings…thanks for reading…..Nancy M…..3/14/10.

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