HORSE’S MOUTH:Congratulations, Paul!


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on June 25, 2011.)


My first reaction was “Wow!”

The reason?

Supervisor Mike Antonovich emailed me the news about the promotion of Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka to the rank of undersheriff, which is the highest in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, just below Sheriff Lee Baca.

Sheriff Baca made the announcement to elevate Tanaka after Larry Waldie, who held the post, opted to retire.

Since I forwarded the news release to Gwen, I’m sure the story will appear in the news section of the Rafu, so I won’t go into the details of Tanaka’s new rank.

What kind of surprised me was that none of the news publications in the Los Angeles area (including the L.A. Times) carried the story of Tanaka’s promotion.

As everyone knows, Tanaka is also the mayor of Gardena.

I’m wondering —  with his promotion, will he still continue as mayor or will his new duties make it difficult for him to hold the two positions? Perhaps he may have to retire as the head of the Gardena city government.

Getting back to my opening, “Wow.”

I say that because I’ve known Tanaka since his childhood. He was a friend of my sons as they grew up together.

And since I knew him from from such a young age, he always called me “Mr. Yosh.” Something he still does.

Now that he’s reach such a high level, perhaps I may have to call him “Mr. Tanaka” instead of the usual “Paul.”

In looking back, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by his recent accomplishments in life. He always showed signs of being an exceptional individual even in his younger days. Among the younger kids, he always seemed to stand out.

Hey, who knows? If the current sheriff decides to retire, maybe Paul can move up another notch.

Then I can add another “WOW!”

In a recent column I wondered if there were any “Rokusei” or sixth-generation Japanese Americans.

I wrote the tidbit because I had heard that there were a few “Gosei” or fifth generation popping up.

Well, a reader who asked not to be identified wrote me the following:

“I have never written to a newspaper before but I guess there’s always a first for everything. I enjoy reading our column, especially /«about Vegas and about places to eat. I met you some time ago at the Murayama’s wonderful wedding.

“Regarding your comment about wondering if there are any fifth-generation Japanese Americans around. The reason I am writing you is because I am in my 70s. My parents are both gone but my father was born in Maui. My mother was born in Dominguez Hills when it was all farmland. So that makes make a Sansei.

“My daughter, who is her 50s, would be a Yonsei. My 30-year-old granddaughter would be a Gosei and she has a daughter who is three years old, who would be a Rokusei (is there such a word?)

“I am sure there are others out there, especially in Hawaii where they have many generations in the family as I do.

“I also have a comment, for whatever it is worth, regarding your comment on koden. Depending on the hour of the memorial funeral service, it seems most people expect a luncheon so, in essence, the koden really helps pay for the luncheon at which time friends and family members visit and share stories about the deceased and more or less think of it as a celebration.”

Thanks for the information about your Rokusei grandchildren. It’s the first time a Rokusei has been positively identified.

As I said, I don’t know much longer the Japanese American community will continue to label each generation, but at the current trend, Rokusei may be the final one to be so identified.

May sound kind of rib-tickling, but if we do continue to classify each generation and we reach the l0th, it could be tagged “Jusei.”

If that happens, people may get a little confused. You know, mistake “Jusei” for “Jew-say.”

Some people when hearing “Jusei” might ask, “What do you mean by what the Jews say?”

As readers of my jabbering know, I’m a small-time gambler when I visit Ls Vegas.

Despite that, I often wonder what the top executives at the Vegas casinos earn in yearly compensation.

Well, I came cross an article headlined, “Highest-Paid Executives in Las Vegas.”

All I could mutter was, “Wow!”

The highest-paid executive in Vegas is the president of the Las Vegas Sands. His name is Michael Leven. His yearly compensation: $31.8 million. Yes, that’s no typo. It is $31.8 million.

I would guess that most people who visit Vegas and play at the casinos don’t make that kind of money in their entire lifetime.

And what about the other end? That is, the lowest-paid casino executive.

According to the article, that would be Mark Lerner at Bally’s Hotel and Casino, who earns a “meager” $944,600 a year.

As frequently as I have been visiting Vegas all these years, I have never had a photo taken while there.

Hey, who totes a camera around in Vegas?

Well, on my most recent visit, my Vegas friend Rose Kakuuchi brought her camera to our usual breakfast get-together at the Market Street Cafe in the California Hotel.

She said she wanted a photo of us for her album, so a waitress was kind enough to take a shot after we finished our breakfast.

That’s you-know-who on the left. And Rose has her hand on the shoulder of my chauffeur (alias: son, Rob) who sat next to my wife, and next to her, Rose’s sister Grace.

Needless to say, taking the photo was the only winning moment of our trip to Loserville (oops, Las Vegas).


Most of us, I’m sure, take a lot of things for granted and never think, “What if?”

Well, the other day I went for my monthly haircut at a barber shop operated by a Nisei woman who has been cutting my hair for as long as I can remember, and she informed me that she was retiring at the end of this month.

I guess after all these years, it is something I should have expected, but still, when she told me, I was really taken aback.

Naturally, the first thought was, “Where do I go for my next haircut?”

I know there are a lot of barbers in Gardena, but I am faced with the thought of “Where do I go?” I don’t have an answer.

Oh well, maybe I’ll just let my hair grow and not get any more haircuts.

In a year or two, I may be mistaken for an old Nisei woman.

That ought to provoke comments from old senior Nisei guys, which might go, “Hey, did you see that fat, ugly Nisei woman with the long hair?”

(Maggie’s comment: Can’t resist typing this, Mr. Y., but perhaps the lady barber you now have can recommend a barber for you.)

Because my writing appears in the Rafu, which is a publication for the Japanese community, I like to see the JAs identified as JAs, not “Asian American.”

As an example, there was a story recently that said, “Asian Americans under the age of 18 years used the most media, spending 13 hours a day.”

In such a story, I wished the “Asian Americans” were broken down and identified more as Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc.

Ditto for whites. It revealed that white youths spend only eight hours a day.

Even in the so-called white category, it might be great if they broke up the group into individual “whites.” After all, there are a variety of “whites.”

One expert on the issue commented that spending so much time on the media will cause them to miss out on a lot of important things, especially face-to-face contact.

She said the fact that so many kids are eating dinner with the TV on is alarming.

As I noted, I wonder if JA kids are among the so-called “Asian Americans” who fall into this type of media use?

Bacon Sakatani, who is one of the movers and shakers of the Heart Mountain reunion annually, recently visited San Jose to see the grand opening of the Japanese American Museum there.

One of the features of the museum is a re-creation of a camp barrack built by a San Josean who was incarcerated in Heart Mountain.

Bacon took photos of the interior barrack unit and emailed them to me. I hope I can run them in my column one of these days.

It’s an amazing replica of the units we lived in during our camp days, complete with makeshift furniture and appliances.

Hopefully, on my next trip to Northern California I can stop by and visit the San Jose museum and compare it to the one in Little Tokyo.

After I had written a column on a Japanese sushi restaurant in Torrance called Onami, I had several readers write to me to ask about what kind of prices the place charges.

As one put it, “Most sushi places are expensive.”

I agree. And it made me wonder why sushi is so expensive.

I wrote about a sushi restaurant in New York called Masa, which has been serving that city since 2004.

A meal for two at Masa can easily run to $1,500, according to a story in the New York Times.

I had to read that figure twice to make sure I was seeing it correctly.

The article noted that the quality of the ingredients and preparation by so-called “sushi experts” create the high cost.

Of course, the price at Masa is probably an exception. Although sushi is expensive in the Los Angeles area eateries, there are none that charge that much.

Heck, I can buy a large box of sushi at Sakae Sushi in Gardena, and I’ll bet their sushi is every bit as good as or better than most sushi restaurants.

Just ask people who buy their sushi at Sakae Sushi, located at Denker and Redondo Beach Boulevard in Gardena.

Would you believe that the March earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan may change the way office workers in Japan go to to work?

The damage at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has caused an electricity shortage and thus, this coming hot season the air conditioning in the office building will be cut back sharply.

So office workers are being asked to dress in “kariyushi” shirts, Japan’s version of Hawaii’s aloha shirts.

Women are asked to wear polyester dresses. That I’ve got to see.

When I moved to Tokyo to work, having to wear a suit to the office was something I hated. I couldn’t even take my coat off while sitting at my desk.

Now they’re to be in shorts? Wow!

Let’s laugh.

A Nisei and his wife are shopping in their local Wal-Mart store.

The husband picks up a case of Budweiser and puts it in their cart.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the wife.

“They’re on sale, only $10 for 24 cans,” he replies.

“Put them back. We can’t afford them,” demands the wife. And so they carry on shopping.

A few aisles further on, along the woman picks up a $20 jar of face cream and puts it in the basket.

“What do you think you’re doing?” asks the husband.

“It’s my face cream. It makes me look beautiful,” replies the wife.

Her husband retorts, “So does 24 cans of Budweiser, and it’s half the price.”

The Wal-Mart public address system blares out, “Husband down, husband down. Send paramedics.”


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



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