HORSE’S MOUTH: Am I Horse or Mouse?


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on Sept. 3, 2011.)


In a recent column I used a piece submitted to me by Bacon Sakatani on his views of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center grand opening. In his piece, Bacon mentioned that his passenger on the long car ride to Wyoming was Keiichi Ikeda.

Since Keiichi’s photo at the event was printed on the front page of the Los Angeles Times along with Bacon’s, I mentioned that Keiichi played on the Heart Mountain High School varsity football team and ran a photo of the team.

Ironically, in this past Wednesday’s Rafu, there was an obituary for Kaz Marumoto, who was one of the starting linemen on the same team.

It was another reminder that time is rapidly passing us by.

Let’s face it. When we think about people who were past 18 years of age back in camp days, they are all in their mid-80s now.

Service for Kaz is slated for this coming Saturday at Green Hills Park. Since Kaz was born in Terminal Island, his final resting place will be close to his birthplace.

So, it’s time to say “sayonara” to a wonderful guy and super athlete.

Because it’s still the hot season, the drive back from Las Vegas was tough, even though we had the air conditioning in the car going full blast.

We left early in the a.m. to avoid the real hot time of day, but that’s not possible.

When I got up at 2 a.m. to go to the you-know-what, I peered out of the window at The California Hotel to see what the temperature was at that early morning hour. Would you believe, 98 degrees?

Well, by the time we were on the road and passing through the hottest part of the trip, the temperature on what is called the “world’s tallest thermometer,” located in Baker, read 109. That was about 9 a.m.

I know most people will say, ‘Yeah, but that was dry heat.” Heck, dry or not, 109 is still hot.

While we were in Vegas, the temperature at 1 p.m. hit 111 degrees.

However, since we didn’t leave the casino, it didn’t matter what the temperature was outside.

Yeah, I know. The next question most will ask is, “So how did you do?”

No need to respond to that one.

However, it’s always nice to see some people winning.

There was this one Nisei gentleman who won $32,000 not far from where I was “donating” my money.

So, I guess all this talk about slot machines being “tight” is not really an accurate description of what’s happening in the casino.

As I always mention, I visit Vegas to have a good time and enjoy the great food served in the restaurants.

And I manage to do that. My fat stomach will attest to my eating great food.

I try to cut back on my eating, especially since my wife tells me, “You’re beginning to look like a sumo wrestler.”

Well, maybe I’ll change my nickname from “Uma” to Yokozuna.”

Speaking of names, I guess I picked up another one, according to a letter that a friend of mine received. She asked that I don’t use her name, but in the letter, her friend wrote, “I find your name in the ‘Horse’s Mouse’ column often.”

It’s the first time I’ve been called Horse’s Mouse. Sounds better than the “other end of the horse.”

Needless to say, most people do refer to me as the latter.

Also needless to say, most people who knew of my trip to Vegas all ask, “When are you going again?”

Well, maybe if I hit the California Lottery.

And we know that’s about as possible as snow falling in Vegas in the month of August.

Speaking of the next trip to Vegas, I’m sure a lot of you will be going there over the Labor Day weekend. That’s one of the busiest days of the year for Vegas.

For those of you planning a trip, perhaps you can visit Mandalay Bay because over the weekend they are staging a show that features a performer named Steve Aoki.

I don’t know what Aoki does in the show, but I just happened to see an advertisement in one of the newspapers that indicated he was going to perform.

Perhaps if any of you do go to see him perform, you can send me info on what he does and how he performed, including where he might be from. It’s not often we see a “Japanese” name among performers on The Strip in Vegas.

Jumping across the Pacific, a bit of sumo news.

In the coming grand tournament, it will be the first time there will be no Japanese sumotori competing who are ranked as a yokozuna or even an ozeki.

The only Japanese with a chance to break the lack of an ozeki or yokozuna in a tournament is Kotoshogiku, on the edge of being promoted to ozeki.

This is the first time that sumo has not had a Japanese yokozuna or ozeki since 1993. That’s nearly two decades.

Little wonder that sumo is losing its popularity with the Japanese fans.

Perhaps in another 50 years, sumo might be a forgotten sport in Japan.

Oh, by the way. I often wondered what kind of tip a winner in the casino leaves for the dealer, or in the case of someone playing the slots, what they give to the person who gives him his winning.

I mentioned that a Nisei fellow won $32,000, but I didn’t see him leaving a tip for anyone.

About two years ago, I hit a royal flush on a progressive poker slot machine with the jackpot at $1,400. It’s the first and last time I ever hit such a pot.

So, I gave the person giving me the money a tip of  $100. He was stunned. He told me that the biggest tip he ever received was $20, no matter what the amount of the pay-off.

Gee, are people that cheap?

Of course, some of you may say that gambling wins shouldn’t be considered a tipping matter.

They will tell you, “Do they give you any play money if you lose your butt?”

That’s true, but waiters and waitresses in a restaurant may be good or bad, but diners will always leave a tip. Why is that?

To me, winning a thousand bucks is something that should be rewarded just as much as a waiter or waitress asking, “Was everything okay?”

Oh well, everyone has their own beliefs, I guess.

I will accept and print any opinion on this matter that readers might send to me.

In thumbing through news articles, the one thing I always look for is a “Japanese” surname.

However, every now and then I come across a name that sounds “Japanese” but I can’t say if it is or not.

What about the name Ken Azebu? Sounds a bit Japanese, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, I’ve never come across anyone named Azebu in the many years I’ve been with the media.

Can anyone tell me if Azebu is Japanese or not?

At any rate, Ken Azebu’s name was in an article about Santa Clara, Calif., women’s synchronized swimming team.

Azebu is credited with raising funds so that the team can prepare for the next Olympics. He was among these who helped collect more than $2 million to help finance the team.

Well, my “snail mail” and email are open for any information on this matter.

A few years ago, friend Zombie Yamamoto told me about a Japanese restaurant located in a small shopping mail located at 180th and Western Avenue in Gardena.

I tried the place and found it to be very good, as Zombie described it to me.

I wrote about it and a number of people said they also tried it and found it to their liking.

Well, this past week, a reader said she went to the restaurant, called “Fu Shing,” and found the place closed with no information as to whether they shut down the business or moved to another location.

So she dropped me a line to ask if anyone knows if the restaurant found a new location or simply closed its doors.

Can anyone provide the information for readers and others who might be wondering the same thing? She says she loved the homyu at Fu Shing, because it served one of the best she’s tasted.

Okay, I hope someone can come up with the answer to her inquiry.

A bit on the serious side. Let me touch on the issue of the new stadium being proposed for the area near Staples Center.

Friend Supervisor Mike Antonovich opposes the new project without a review showing whether it’s for the public good or for corporate profits.

AEG, the corporation pushing the project, is the center of attention.

Mike is pushing for an environmental review of the proposed stadium because its location will have a severe traffic impact that will cause more unnecessary pollution and congestion in an area of the freeway system that is already too congested.

As one who uses the Harbor Freeway, which will run next to the proposed stadium, I can’t agree more about the traffic congestion .

Even now, without a stadium, the Harbor Freeway is one of the most congested in the Los Angeles area.

AEG has been acting as a forceful bully already in pushing for this project.

I’m hopeful Mike’s stand will result in a review of the stadium project.

Hey, we don’t even have a pro football team in L.A., so why do we need a stadium before we can get a confirmed bid from one who will use the site?

Okay, here’s today’s laugher:

Do you realize that the only time when we like to get old is when we’re kids?

If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions: “How old are you?” “I’m four and a half.”

You’re never 36 and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five. That’s the key.

You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number or even a few ahead: “How old are you?” “I’m gonna be 16.”

You could be 13, but, hey, you’re gonna be l6. And then the greatest day of your life, you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. You become 21. Yessss!

But then you turn 30. Oh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He turned 30! We had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re just a sour dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed?

Whoa, put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you’ve reached 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait. Make it to 60. You didn’t think you would.

So you become 21. Turn 30. Push 40. Reach 50 and make it to 60.

You’ve built up so much speed that you’ll hit 70! After that, it’s a day-by-day thing, you hit Wednesday.

You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle. You eat lunch, you turn in at 4:30, you reached bedtime.

And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards. “I was just 92.”

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a kid again. “I’m 100 and a half.”

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half.


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



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