HORSE’S MOUTH: Kortini Mizuno’s Cinderella Tale


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on May 17, 2011.)


There’s the old saying “There goes the neighborhood,” and it can apply to the neighborhood where I’ve now lived for 53 years.

As I once mentioned, almost all of my former neighbors have moved away, many to Orange County and others to Torrance.

In most cases they put their houses up for sale but they had a difficult time in trying to find buyers, so they rented their homes out, and that is what caused the “there goes the neighborhood.”

People who rent houses aren’t like those who buy and own them.

All four houses facing our house are being rented. The one directly across the street must have a dozen people living there. So in the evening, there are at least eight cars in the driveway or on the street.

Since they are renting, they care very little about those who live around them. Namely, me.

This past Saturday, one of the houses was having a party and they were playing loud music, late into the night. It was a bit much, so my son called the Police Department.

In about 20 minutes, peace and quiet returned and I was able to sleep.

Perhaps if I were a bit younger, I might consider selling my house and moving away. Maybe to Las Vegas. Heh, heh.

I know that most people who write letters to me request that I don’t publish their names.

However, when the contents of their missive contain certain information that needs clarification, I find that if I do publish their letters, I would have to identify them.

Such is the case with this one in which the writer said, “Please don’t use my name, if possible.”

Well, it isn’t possible in this case due to the nature of the issue he writes about. In this case, his name is Wayne Tofukuji. He wrote:

“Horse, I am a longtime reader of your column but a first-time writer to you. I thoroughly enjoy reading your column and I look forward to it every week.

“Anyway, I know that you frequently write about Keiro Nursing Home, so I wanted to share an experience I had with Keiro.

“My father is in another nursing facility and we are waiting for an opening at Keiro so we can transfer him there.

“This past weekend, I took my mother Sumi to visit her sister (my aunt Toshi Tamura) at the Keiro Nursing Home on Lincoln Park Avenue. When we were there we noticed that the facility had a one-star rating, much like the restaurants get ratings. I guessed that nursing home get graded, too.

“One of the nurses noticed my mother and I reading the grading card and came over and tried to explain it to us.

“By the way, five-star rating is the highest, so a one is very poor.

“I don’t know if your readers are aware of this rating system. I don’t know if this means all the Keiro Nursing Homes are rated as a one also, or just this one.

“I’m not sure if I am excited about putting my father in Keiro now. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know and if you think this important to send on to your readers.”

Thanks, Wayne. I didn’t know that nursing homes were given ratings, but I am going to check it out with some people I know who are familiar with things like this.

Yes, I know that most Rafu readers who also follow my writing consider me to be a columnist, but I like to consider myself as a “newspaper writer.”

So, I keep my eyes open for new stories that I feel should get the attention of Rafu readers and might appear in the paper’s news section.

There are quite a few stories like these that might go unnoticed.

One of these is about a San Pedro teenager named Kortini Mizuno. She is 17 and was diagnosed with chronic kidney cancer last year. Due to her illness, she was forced to leave high school and begin home schooling.

She said, “I can be fine one day and in excruciating pain the next hours.”

Although she is home-schooled, she is still allowed to participate in school events such as the prom and graduation. But her medical bills leave little money for a prom dress and other expenses.

“It’s a lot of money on top of my medical bills and being in the hospital leave little money for a prom dress,” she said.

Mizuno said she is trying to raise money to make her prom and graduation dreams come true.

Her mother said, “I just want to see her come down the stairs and be with her friends.”

The heartwarming part of this story is that when the news spread about her still wanting to attend the prom, many people expressed their desire to help her fulfill her dream by offering to buy her prom gown and pay for her other expenses.

So, it would appear that she will be able to participate in the two events at her former high school.

What a wonderful story!

Perhaps this next story might be covered by Rafu’s former Sports Editor Jordan Ikeda since he lives in the South Bay area, but he might have missed it so I thought I would toss it in.

It’s about a Japanese American named Naoki Kato of Torrance. So, “Who is he?” some of you may ask.

Well, Naoki won the 45th annual Palos Verdes Marathon held this past Saturday with a winning time of 2:54:07.

The PV Marathon doesn’t get the media coverage of the L.A. Marathon, but 2,000 people competed in the event.

Kato finished third in the event last year.

Many of the entrants thought that this year’s new route was a little daunting, forcing them to jog across the finish line at a slightly slower speed.

Kato said, “Too many ups and downs” about the new route. “Last year’s route was better.”

Of course, many thought this year’s route was better, although it was a bit tougher.

The annual event, the second-oldest in the country behind the Boston Marathon, is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Rolling Hills Estates.

The event had been based in Point Fermin in San Pedro but rising costs in Los Angeles forced the group to move the event to Rancho Palos Verdes for the first time.

At any rate, congratulations to Naoki Kato for beating 2,000 other runners to the finish line.


Hey, maybe the weather in Gardena is getting to be like Japan.

About five years ago, when I was visiting my daughter-in-law’s father who is a chestnut (kuri) farmer in Ibaraki-ken, he gave me a handful of chestnuts to take home and water when I got back to Gardena.

Well, we ate most of them, but I thought to myself, “I wonder if chestnuts would grow in Gardena.”

So, I put two of the seeds in the ground in my backyard.

Well, a few months after, one of the seeds began to grow very slowly.

I kept watering it, but after growing about six inches, it stopped and became more like a weed. Nevertheless I kept watering the little plant.

In a phone conversation with Japan, the father told me it’s probably the California weather and that it might never grow.

Well, surprise, surprise!

Last week, I went about the usual task of watering the plant, which suddenly grew to about two feet, and I noticed three chestnuts growing out on one of the branches.

Wow! Was my first thought.

Now I look at the plant every day hoping the birds or bugs don’t get the little chestnuts on the branches.

I’m thinking of calling Japan to tell the father about what I found on the chestnut plant.

With the unusual weather we’ve been experiencing in Southern California, maybe the recent climate is getting to be more like Ibaraki than California.

Hopefully, by this fall, I’ll be able to pick the few chestnuts now growing in our backyard farm.

(Maggie’s comment: I couldn’t resist saying this, but see what tender, loving care does, Mr. Y. May I suggest you get in touch with a gardener or a nursery so that you can protect your chestnuts from bugs or birds, etc.)


For you old-time Nisei patrons of Las Vegas, another old landmark in your favorite visiting place is closing its doors.

It’s the Sahara Hotel on The Strip. The hotel-casino cashed its last chips and bid farewell to its patrons on Monday.

The Sahara is one of the old-time hotel-casinos and follows in the steps of the Sands and Desert Inn to shut down.

There was no information about another owner taking over the operation of the Sahara, so like the Sands and Desert Inn, it might be taken down.

There was another landmark hotel-casino that was also closed, but I can’t think of its name.

Well, there goes another “old Vegas.”

I was kind of curious about the recent project in which people who turned in firearms were given certificates worth several hundred dollars at supermarkets.

It was my understanding that the aim was to take firearms off the streets. I got a chuckle when I read this as the reason.

It’s simple: those who use firearms for illegal purposes aren’t going to turn in their guns for gift certificates.

Heck, in the week following the “turn in your gun” project, there were at least a dozen shootings in which several were killed.

I don’t expect these types of crimes to stop because of the “turn in your gun” project because guns in the wrong hands will continue to be in the wrong hands.

The criminal types must be wringing their hands when they read that at least 2,000 guns were turned in. That’s 2,000 fewer people who will be able to defend themselves from those brandishing handguns illegally.

As the Japanese might put it, “Ah so.”


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.





  1. Your comments about the gun control issue is spot on.
    People who comment or write without using their name or using a handle do not lend any credibility to their statements. They need the intestinal fortitude to do it, instead of hiding behind an alias.

  2. I disagree with Mr. Ota’s assertion regarding requests to remain anonymous. There may certainly be good reason to hide someone’s identity to protect their loved one from whistleblower retaliation. This is an interesting box of natto you have opened Mr. Yoshinaga. Please be sure to follow up on how it is resolved.

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