HORSE’S MOUTH: I Gotta Have My Natto


(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on Dec. 13, 2011)


The sky is falling. The sky is falling. The sky is falling. Well, actually my friends are falling.

A column or two back, I ran a photo of the former Nisei Week Queens getting together for lunch. In the photo, Em Kato Yamada, the 1953 queen, was pictured with a bruised, swollen face. She said she fell down and hit her face on the ground.

Later, another friend, Iku Kiriyama, told me she fell and broke her hip and was hospitalized for several weeks. She’s okay now but is using a walker to get around..

Then Rafu Editor Gwen Muranaka said she tripped and fell as she was helping the staff moving to the paper’s new office.

My gosh. The sky is falling.

I guess as we age, we don’t realize that we are not as agile as we used to be.

I know a couple of times I almost fell on my face, but fortunately, I was able to grab onto a handrail to break my fall. Hey, my face is bad enough without getting it bumped and bruised.

Oh well, let me continue with my chatter.

Since I’m driving up to Vegas I thought a letter from reader Harold Fujimoto might prove to be helpful to those of you who do a lot of driving. It’s about a new traffic law that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2012.

It will be a good thing to know.

Here is the new law: If a police car is pulled over to the side of the road, you have to change to the next lane away from the stopped vehicle or slow down by 20 miles per hour.

Every state except Hawaii, Maryland and Washington, D.C. has this law, but it will be enforced in California on Jan. 1.

Fujimoto’s friend’s son got a ticket for this recently. A police car (turns out it was two police cars) was on the side of the highway giving a ticket to someone else. He slowed down to pass but did not move into the other lane. The second police car immediately pulled him over and gave him a ticket.

He had never heard of the new law, which states that if any emergency vehicle is on the side of road, if you are able, you are to move into the far lane.

The cost of the ticket was $754 with three points on your license and a mandatory court appearance.

Hope this is helpful to all of you drivers.

I know on my previous drives to Vegas, I have passed a pulled-over Highway Patrol car a number of times, but I never did slow down or move to another lane.

Sure will be alert in the future.

Hey, it’s tough enough losing a few bucks in Vegas, but having to dish out $754 for a traffic ticket before I get there? Man, if that ever happens, I would turn around and return to Gardena.

According to the latest stats, more people are arriving in Vegas.

In October, 3.4 million visited the city, making it one of the busiest months of the year.

And what do you suppose was the biggest money-maker for Vegas?

Would you believe the penny slots? Yup. The penny slots grossed an earning of 20.5 percent.

As I pointed out a number of times, they call them penny slots, but the machines gobble up more money that the nickel or quarter machines.

That’s because to win the top prize on the penny machines, the players have to put in up to $2.25. The most I put into my favorite keno machine is 50 cents.

And I can assure you, over a period of time, I’ll collect more than those who play the penny machine.

A lot of things happening in Japan these days as a result of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country earlier this year.

But, would you guess that the move to legalize Vegas-style casino gambling is also being pushed because of the tragedy?

That’s right.

Sheldon Adelson, CEO for the Vegas Sands, who has for more than half a decade been trying to reverse Japan’s ban on casino gambling in the world’s third-largest economy, now has 160 Japanese lawmakers ready to introduce a bill that will allow resorts that combine slot machines and table games in hotels, shopping centers and restaurants.

Japanese casinos could average $44 billion, according to a recent study.

That would provide a source of revenue for a country facing 10 trillion yen in costs from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

One of the legislators said, “It would be an engine for fiscal revival and job creation that wouldn’t require raising taxes.”

Steven Tight of Vegas Caesars Entertainment Corp. said Japan is a very attractive market.

MGM Resorts is also closely monitoring Japan’s move toward casino legalization.

Of course, countries such as Macau, which already has Vegas-style casinos, are interested in entering Japan’s casino market.

Can you picture that? A Sands and Caesars casino in the Ginza section of Tokyo?

I don’t know about table games, but I know that the Japanese will go wild over slot machines.

For those who have visited Japan, you know how popular pachinko machines are among the Japanese.

Can you imagine how wild they would be with “real” slots?

I know that baccarat is another craze among the Japanese. Of course, they have their own name for the game.

When Japanese tourists used to flock to Vegas, most of them played baccarat.

And I mean play. I used to escort Japanese tourists to Vegas and it was nothing to see them toss down $1,000 on one hand of baccarat.

Of course, the Chinese have taken over as the high rollers in recent years and the business from Japan has almost vanished.

I’ll keep my eyes on the casino move in Japan to see if it will actually take place.

Over the year a lot of imported food products have been banned because of health concerns.

The latest being dried shiitake (mushrooms), which was reported to contain high sulfite, which could be hazardous to health.

Well, we’ve never encountered any products that were singled out for health reasons, but my wife started rummaging through all the products in the kitchen cabinet, and lo and behold, she found two bags of dried shiitake.

Now we don’t know if the ones in our house are from the company that produces the banned shiitake, but I took them and tossed them in the trash cans anyway.

No use in taking any chances, I told my wife.

I’m not sure why we ought the dried shiitake in the first place since we seldom use it.

I just hope somebody doesn’t come along to the challenge the sale of natto just because it smells like you-know-what.

Dried shiitake I can go without, but I gotta have my natto.

It’s so easy for my wife to prepare lunch for me with natto. A bowl of gohan and a dish of natto. Man, that’s a meal for me.

One of the things I do in looking for ideas on what to write about is to scan my email and other stuff available on the Web.

The kind of news that appears on my computer screen is getting a little scary.

On this day, Sunday, of the top eight news items, five were about shootings in the L.A. area.

Of course, the biggest one was the man who went on a shooting rampage in Hollywood at Sunset and Vine.

Golly, I always figured that Hollywood was one of the safer places to visit.

But, it’s not only Hollywood. There were similar gunshot crimes in areas like the South Bay, including San Pedro, Redondo Beach and Torrance.

And, if gun attacks aren’t enough, even the bees are getting into the act.

A senior citizen out for his usual morning walk in Redondo Beach was attacked by a horde of bees. He tried to fight them off but with little success.

A bystander near the attack rushed to help the elderly man and also called 911, but the victim was stung so badly they had to rush him to a hospital.

Redondo Beach isn’t too far from Gardena, so I am a bit concerned.

I see bees buzzing around the flowers in our backyard garden, so I would assume that it’s possible for a horde of them to swing into Gardena.

Perhaps the Rafu will run a story one of these days with the headline, “Bees Attack Horse.”

Since I’m trying to write and at the same time pack for our trip to Vegas, I am tossing in a lot of stuff that I normally would pass on.

Of course, I could fill pages and pages by printing letters from readers, but I might have to change the title of my column from “The Horse’s Mouth” to “The Horse’s You-Know-What.”

At any rate, I thought the following sent to by a reader with the title “Chinese Philosophy” would be of interest. Kind of gives an idea of how people think differently. So here they are:

• When without money, keep pigs; when have money, keep dogs.

• When without money, eat wild vegetables at home. When have money, eat same wild vegetables in fine restaurant.

• When without money, ride bicycle. When with money, ride exercise machine.

• When without money, wish to get married. When have money, wish to get divorced.

• When without money, wife becomes secretary. When have money, secretary becomes wife.

• When without money, act like rich man. When with money, act like poor man.

• Says share market is bad but keeps speculating. Says money is evil but keeps accumulating.

• Says women are trouble-makers but keeps desiring them. Says high positions are lonely but keeps wanting them.

• Says smoking and drinking is bad but keeps partying. Says heaven is good but refuses to go.

• At 20, getting dates is the top priority.

• At 30, a good career is top priority.

• At 40, keeping your body in shape is top priority.

• At 50, beating others at mahjong is top priority.

• At 60, keeping it up is top priority.

• At 70, remembering something is top priority.

• At 80, moving around is top priority.

• At 90, knowing directions is top priority.

• At age 100, having your portrait on the wall is top priority.

As the old saying goes, darn clever, the Chinese.

Well, perhaps I can try to remember the foregoing as I sit in the casino.

I was going to sign off with my usual tag, “I may be a little short today,” but then I ran into an article in the Las Vegas Sun by JA writer Paul Takahashi that I thought was of interest.

He wrote about teachers at Clark County schools having a tough time because there are so many immigrant students who don’t speak English.

I’ve heard of something like that in and around Los Angeles, but I’m surprised to learn that it’s an issue in Las Vegas.

Takahashi wrote that remedial English teachers are working day and night with immigrant children and their parents, mainly Hispanics, helping them master English and adapt to our country.

He didn’t mention anything about the large Korean community now developing in Vegas.

If I get the chance on my visit, I’ll contact him about this side of the story.

Well, I’m off and running.


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 Comment

  1. Thanks for the mention in your column, George.

    I focused my story on the Hispanic community as they represent the largest student demographic in Nevada as of the 2010 Census. Among the greater, non-student population, Hispanics are also the largest minority group in Las Vegas and the state.

    In the recent Census, Nevada also saw a large growth in the Asian American population, notably in the Filipino and Hawaiian ethnic groups. While this is considered one of the most overlooked demographic trends in the state, Asian Americans are still among the smallest minority groups in Las Vegas, representing about 9 percent of the general population and 7 percent of the Clark County student population.

    At Western High School, the focus of my story on English Language Learner students, Asian American students represent less than two percent of the student body. This clarification is not to say this demographic isn’t important to cover, but rather to highlight the broader context in which this particular story was written.

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