HORSE’S MOUTH: A Call From the Head Man


(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on Nov. 1, 2011)


After returning from a quick grocery shopping trip with my wife, I checked my telephone answering machine for any messages.

I was surprised to find a call from Rafu’s head man, publisher Mike Komai.

That’s something that has never happened before.

My wife, upon hearing the message giggled. “Maybe he’s going to beat you to the punch,” she said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Again, with a smile on her face, she said, “Well, you’re always talking about retiring. Maybe he’s going to fire you.”

So I dialed the Rafu office and got hold of Mike.

“You called, what’s up?” I said, then added my wife’s comment.

Mike laughed. “Hey, I’ll retire before you do.”

He then told me the purpose of his call was to advise me that the Rafu office is moving from its present location on Onizuka Street to a new office at Third and Alameda Street, across from the Little Tokyo Galleria shopping mall.

If memory serves me correctly, this will be the fourth move since we returned from “camp days.”

As frequently mentioned, The Rafu’s first office in Little Tokyo, after the JAs returned from the camps, was at First and Los Angeles Street, where Parker Center is now located.

Then the paper moved to an office site on South San Pedro Street, where the JACCC is now located.

Then to Los Angeles Street between Second and Third streets.

Now, Third and Alameda.

So, I guess it can be said that the Rafu has been in almost every part of J-Town after we returned from our relocation camp experience.

One thing the move will cause me to do is I’ll have to drive my car when I drop into The Rafu to pick up my mail.

In recent times, I used to take the Gardena bus, but the bus stop in Little Tokyo is a bit too far from the Rafu office for me to walk my “Issei-aged” worn-out legs.

Well, we’ll see.

(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y., the Dash Bus marked “A, Little Tokyo “will take you almost to the new Rafu office on Third and Alameda. You may catch the A bus at First and San Pedro — I think this is also where the Gardena bus unloads — and go to end of the line, which stops on Central and Third Street, right across the street from the former Yaohan Shopping Center. Walk a short distance east and you will be at the Rafu office).

This past week was really great for me as far as sports results go.

I was rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series and they won.

Then I was rooting for Stanford against USC in their football game and the guys from Palo Alto knocked off the Trojans at the Coliseum.

And, at the Rose Bowl, I was cheering on UCLA against Cal and the Bruins came through.

Why UCLA and not USC?

Well, as most of you know, I’m from Northern California in pre-war days and was always a Stanford fan, having been born and raised near Palo Alto.

And when I was going to high school, I used to park cars at Stanford football games. We were paid 50 cents an hour, which was big money in those days for me.

Hey, what the heck, 50 cents is still big money for me these days.

I’m sure a few Rafu subscribers would cheer if they saw the headline in the New York Times last week.

It read: “Slaughter of Horses Goes On. Just Not in the U.S.”

It’s about the closing of the last meat processing plant that slaughtered horses for human consumption. The plant was located in Lincoln, Neb.

The closing was hailed as a victory for the horses’ welfare.

However, American horses are still destined for dinner plates in Asia.

Now they are carved into a dish called “basashi sashimi.”

Of course, the battle now is over prohibiting the shipment of U.S. horses abroad for the purpose of providing meat.

I wasn’t aware that horse meat served in a lot of sashimi restaurants in Japan was from the U.S.

In fact, when I moved to Japan about 50 years ago and learned that they served horse meat on sushi, I hesitated about going to places that did serve “uma sushi.”

I found out the hard way.

I tagged along. It was one of those places where the sushi was on a conveyor belt that circled around and around in front of those sitting at the sushi bar.

I never thought that some of the sushi had horse meat. I picked one out as it passed by me and when I bit into it, I sensed that it wasn’t any type of seafood.

When I asked my friend what it was that I was eating, he smiled and replied, “Uma da.”

Yup. I got up and went to the you-know-where to spit it out.

They weren’t going to get this “uma” to eat another “uma.”

Of course, since the profits from shipping horses for slaughter reach $65 million a year, many say that horses are no different than cows, pigs or goats.

One Nebraska rancher was quoted as saying this. But another horse rancher said, “A horse is a pet, like a dog or cat.”

And in some cases, a horse is a newspaper columnist. Heh, heh.

In celebration of its 99th anniversary, the vernacular newspaper Hawaii Hochi conducted a series called “Salute to Hawaii’s Japanese American Pioneers.”

Among the 13 JAs named was former professional boxer Paul Fujii, who was born in Hawaii but gained his fame and fortune in Japan.

However, the individual who wrote the story of Fujii’s career really didn’t seem to do a study on the boxer.

Fujii was in the U.S. Marine Corps and stationed in Japan.

I learned this when a Caucasian Marine dropped into the boxing gym that I was managing for Rikidozan and asked if I knew that Fujii was stationed at the base located at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

I knew of Fujii because he appeared in a boxing match at the Camp Pendleton Marine Base in Oceanside. However, I didn’t know he was in Japan at the same time I was.

When I heard about his being in Japan, I made an effort to contact him and when I did, he said he’d drop in at our gym to look around.

At the time, he said he was getting ready to be discharged from the Marines, so he might be interested in “turning professional” in boxing.

Well, he did and began to train under the watchful eye of a trainer named Eddie Thompson, whom our company hired to work with Japanese fighters.

After a few months, I put him in a four-round match against a Japanese boxer but after he knocked out his opponent, I couldn’t find another fighter to match him against because Fujii weighed 140 pounds and there were only a few Japanese at that weight.

So I decided to “import” foreign opponents, but we had to put him in ten-round bouts because we couldn’t import four-rounders.

Well, he continued his success against the foreign fighters and became one of the most popular fighters in Japan because of his success.

He then “became” a Japanese. He dropped his name, Paul, and began fighting with his Japanese middle name, which was Takeshi.

The TV station that carried his fight, Tokyo TV, Channel Six, asked if I could set up a world championship match for “Takeshi.”

The 140-pound (junior welterweight) champion was from Italy and he jumped at the chance because he figured no “Japanese fighter” in the heavier weight class could give him much problem.

Fujii knocked out the Italian to become the first Nisei professional boxer to win a world title.

I returned to the U.S. and my association with Fujii ended, but he continued to win and became the biggest money earner among boxers in Japan.

So, while he is being honored by his native Hawaii, he really owes his success to Japan.

When President Obama recently visited Los Angeles, there was a lot of concern about his presence causing massive traffic jams where he went and there were a lot of stories written about the situation.

What I was curious about was who pays for his travel when he is only on a fundraising drive for the 2012 election?

He flies on Air Force One, the private carrier only for presidents.

Does Obama pay to use Air Force One since it’s only for his benefit and not the taxpayers of the country?

Well, Mark Knoller of CBS wrote: “Last year (2010) Obama flew in Air Force One 172 times, almost every other day. White House officials have been telling reporters in recent days that the Democrat doesn’t intend to hang around the White House quite so much in 2011. They explain he wants to get out more around the country because as everyone knows, that midterm election shellacking had nothing to do with his health care bill, overspending or other policies and everything to do with Obama’s not adequately explaining himself to his countrymen and women.

“And with 673 days remaining in Obama’s never-ending presidential campaign, the incumbent’s travel pace will not likely slacken. And the Air Force estimated $181,757 per flight hour (not to mention the additional travel costs of Marine One, Secret Service, logistics and local police overtime), that’s a lot of frequent flier dollars going into Obama’s carbon footstep, $80 million every time it lands and takes off.”

We are privy to some of these numbers, thanks to CBS’ Mark Knoller, a national treasure trove of presidential stats.

According to Knoller’s notes, during the last year, Obama made 65 domestic trips over 104 days and six trips to 80 countries over 22 days, not counting six vacation trips over 32 days he took 196 helicopter trips.

Obama has spent over $100 million taxpayer dollars flying around in Air Force One and probably another $100 million on his entourage.

So I would guess that paying $38,500 to attend a dinner, as those in Los Angeles did when when he was visiting here, is just a drop in the bucket.

Oh well, maybe we can just say, “That’s politics.”

I’m sure most of you who have computers get a feature entitled “Trivia Question of the Day.”

I get it and a while back, my curiosity got the best of me, so I logged in on the feature.

It asks common questions that don’t seem to be difficult, so I started to punch in my answers to the questions.

To date, I’ve responded to 259 questions and I have gotten only 82 correct, which means I had 177 wrong.

The reason I am mentioning this is — if any of you readers with computers have responded to the “Trivia Question of the Day” want to know what your score, the feature does print the total right and wrong.

Would appreciate any readers who want to respond to my request.

Well, I’ll wind up with a little more of Maggie’s contribution to my column. These, too, Maggie got from “Crystal Chatter”. This one is entitled, “Reason Why the English Language Is Hard to Learn.”

1. The bandage was wound around the wound.

2. The farm was used to produce produce.

3. The dump was so full of that it had to refuse more refuse.

4. We must polish the Polish furniture.

5. He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6. The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7. Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8. A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9. When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10. I did not object to the object.

11. The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12. There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13. They were too close to the door to close it.

14. After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Well, until next time.


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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