HORSE’S MOUTH: Mushrooms at $450 a Pound!


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on June 29, 2010)


When one of my friends called me to ask if I was getting back in shape after my brief hospital stay, I chuckled and said, “Yeah, this Horse isn’t doing as badly as horse racing at Hollywood Park.”

That’s because I thought I would try to recoup by watching the horses run at the Inglewood track.
Heh. They canceled racing on Wednesday and Thursday because the track reported there weren’t enough horses to fill their race card.
Who would have thought such a thing would ever happen? Horse racing without enough horses?
They still ran races on Friday but Friday racing is at night.
Needless to say, one can’t recoup going out at night, especially at a racetrack.
Even when I’m full of pep, I don’t care to go to racing at night, even if I might win some money. It’s really creepy walking back to the car in the dark of night with criminal activity what it is these days.
So, I was sitting in front of the TV watching the Dodgers play.
Speaking of the Dodgers, I see they are holding their annual “Japanese Community Day” next week.
I’ve never been to any “Japan Day” games because I’ve never been invited.
That’s the way the old baseball bounces, I guess.

Chatting about health problems there was a recent story with a headline, “Science Closing In On Genes That Help People Live to 100.”
Researchers closing in on the impact of family versus lifestyle find most people who live to 100 or older share some helpful genes.
But, they say, don’t give up on diet and exercise just yet.
In the early step to understanding the path that leads to surviving into old age, researchers found most had a number of genetic variations in common.
That doesn’t mean there’s a quick test to determine who will live long and who won’t.
The researchers looked at the genomes of 1,055  Caucasians born  between 1890 and 1910 and compared them with 1,267 people born later.
By studying genetic markers, the researchers were able to predict with 77 percent accuracy which came from people over 100.
While the study begun in 1995 focused on Caucasians, the researchers plan to extend to other groups including the Japanese in Japan which has one of the largest number of centenarians.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Aging.
Hopefully, they will expand their research to cover Japanese Americans.
There are quite a few Nisei who have reached the late 90s and early 100s. Gosh, I never thought I would be writing about how old the Nisei generation is getting to be.
I’m glad Alisa Lynch of the Manzanar Project sent me her mailing list. From time to time when she sends me information and if the Rafu news section doesn’t carry it, I can put it in my column to help “fill space” as well as distribute the news.
In her latest release she wrote about the summer docent program at the former camp in which five Nisei will present talks about their life in Manzanar during WWII.
On July 24, Arthur Ogami will present two talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Ogami will present his talk on his memories of Manzanar, Montana, Tule Lake, North Dakota and Japan. He arrived in Manzanar a week and half after his 20th birthday. In
camp, he worked as an orderly at the Manzanar hospital and helped build one of the camp’s gardens. He later transferred to Tule Lake and eventually expatriated to Japan in 1945.
On Aug. 7 at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., Hank Umemoto will present his talk. He describes himself as a defiant teenager.
On Aug. 21, Don Hata and Mary Higuchi will present their talks at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The theme of their talk will be “Kids in the Nikkei Gulag-Diaspora,” in which they will share their recollections of growing up in camp and surviving the postwar years. Mary is an accomplished artist who has studied with Henry Fukuhara and showed her works at past exhibitions at Manzanar. Don is emeritus Professor at California State University Dominguez Hills. With his late wife, Nadine (Ishitani), he co-authored the interpretive essay “Japanese Americans and World War II.”

On Sept. 5 and 6 at 11 a.m., Cory Shiozaki will present his talk on a small number of JA internees who escaped from camp to fish in the famed streams of the Eastern Sierra. He will bring his fishing stories to life in his chat, showing slides and footage from his upcoming film, “From Barbed Wire to Barbed Hooks.” He will also show samples of fishing tackles handmade in camp. After his talk, he will lead a walk up nearby creeks and fishing holes.
All the programs are free of charge and open to the public.
The Manzanar National Historic Site Interpretive Center is located on Highway 395, six miles south of Independence.
For more information, call (760) 878-2194 or visit Manzanar’s website at
If it weren’t such a long drive, I’d like to take in one of the talks.
I’d guess that Manzanar is almost as far as Las Vegas in mileage. Needless to say, if I had to pick one over the other, most would know  which one that would be.
Four more U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, have added flights to Haneda Airport in Japan.
For old-timers, flying to Haneda from Los Angeles was the norm.
However, when they opened Narita Airport, Haneda became a domestic airport for Japanese carriers serving only other Japanese cities.
When Narita became the International Airport, it added a lot of bucks for international travelers, especially if they took a taxicab into downtown Tokyo.
I guess I mentioned it before but when the yen was 360 yen to a dollar, I was able to ride a cab from Haneda to my apartment in Shibuya-ku for 750 yen or about two bucks.
From Narita to my apartment ran about $1.60. And Haneda also had a monorail train which was even cheaper.
I’m sure if Ellay travelers fly to Tokyo now, they will opt for Haneda.
Hey, maybe for those who travel to Japan and go dining, they may be able to order the famous Japanese mushrooms called, honshimeji. Right now, the famed mushroom costs as much as $450 a pound because it is considered a rare gourmet delicacy.
Well, according to a recent report, the honshimeji mushroom, once thought to grow only in Japan, was found growing wild in Sweden.
Last year, a Japanese mycologist visiting Sweden found the mushroom growing in a pine forest in the northern part of the country. Using DNA analysis, it was confirmed that the Swedish fungus is identical to the prized Japanese mushroom.
So, as I said, those who might want to order it in Japan may now be able to do so without emptying their wallet.
Time to toss in a letter. This one from Dorian Nakamoto who wrote:
“Dear Horse—My acquaintance Bill Peters may have contacted you already about him and his friend, trying to find a Japanese American classmate from South Pasadena, who went back to Japan in 1939.
He then met his white classmate in Tarawa Island. There is a list of JAs South Pasadena classmates, though some misspelled, that you might recognize. They want to identify this JA person.”
Okay, if anyone out there in readerland can provide the information being sought, drop me a line and I’ll forward it to reader, Dorian.

Got a bang out of the story in the Daily News, which opened with “The Japanese are occupying downtown Los Angeles on this Fourth of July weekend.”
When I first read that line, my thought was “Huh?”  Perhaps some others read the story and got the same reaction.
It was an article on the 19th Anime Expo held at the Convention Center. Anime is described as “Japanese pop culture.” The Anime Expo was a four-day celebration of Japan’s popular animation form.
It drew 35,000 fans which probably accounted for the description, “Japanese occupying downtown Los Angeles.”
According to the report, visitors came from as far away as New York and Vancouver, Canada. Gee. I couldn’t drive down from Gardena, only 15 miles away.
Why? I hate to admit it, but I didn’t hear about the event.
Yeah, I know. When I make a comment like that, many of you will probably think, “and you call yourself a newspaperman.”
Wow! I just read that the Postal Dept. is going to raise first-class postage another 4 cents. That means it’s going to cost 48 cents to mail a letter.
For those of us who remember when first-class postage was 10 cents, it might be staggering.
However, in looking at the rise of other products and services, I guess postage stamps haven’t really gone up that much.
Let’s see, according to my math, it means that postage stamps have gone up 38 cents from, say, the year 1939. That’s about four times from the old days.
Compare that with the price of gas. When I first started driving gas price was 19 cents a gallon. Today, (July 7) it’s $3.07. That’s about 28 times higher.
Kind of makes postage stamp’s rise look pale in comparison.
How many of you ever consider the taxes which are attached to our gasoline prices?
In California, each gallon of gas is taxed 48.6 cents. That’s more than the original price per gallon from 1939. Motorists in Hawaii pay 45.1 cents per gallon. And for those who drive to Vegas, the per gallon tax is only 33.1 cents.
The state with the lowest tax? Alaska where it’s only eight cents per gallon, the only state with a single digit tax.
Another thought on gas prices.
I would assume that almost all motorists use gasoline credit cards to fill their tanks. With the price of gas, what it is, gasoline credit cards are probably the most convenient way to buy fuel for the old clunker.
Hey, it costs over 40 bucks to fill up at today’s prices. That would put a pretty big dent in one’s “pocket money.”
However, I can understand why people rack up credit card debts.
When I line up to pay for my purchases, be it at the pharmacy or even at McDonald’s, I’m surprised at how many people charge their purchases, even as low as five bucks, on their credit card.
Charging for a Big Mac at McDonald’s. Yup. I see people doing it.
The other day, at a local Minute Mart, I saw a guy put two bottles of water (about 2 bucks, I would assume) on his credit card.
Don’t have to be a math wizard to figure out how much his monthly tag piles up.
Oh well.
Well, my “hunt and peck” typing has worn me out so I’m going to be a little shorter than usual today.
I’ll be back to my usual typing speed next week when I will be given  the “okay” by my physician to use all of my fingers again.
So, I’ll call it a day for now.

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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