HORSE’S MOUTH: Sayonara, Henry

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

It was a time to bid “sayonara” to an old friend this past week.

Our long-time neighbor in Gardena before moving to Torrance and a dear friend, Henry Yamamoto, passed away. Since we were neighbors, our children grew up with each other.

Services for Henry were held at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes.

It seems to be a growing trend not to hold services in a church chapel but a short, simple ceremony at the gravesite.

This was the third such service I have attended in recent times.

Because of the nature of the service, only close friends and relatives are in attendance.

We were able to have a lengthy chat with Henry’s widow, Jane, before and after the brief ceremony, something that cannot be done at traditional services.

So, I wish to extend my “sayonara” to Henry and express my thanks for having been a great friend.

Getting on with today’s chatter, I discovered a rather puzzling bit of information on my computer.

I was not aware that anyone can get the relocation record of any Japanese American who was evacuated back in 1942.

I learned this because a person I know emailed me my record, which he had obtained on his computer.

The heading on the report sent to me read: “George Yoshinaga Relocation Record.”

It starts with my name, followed on the next line by the year of my birth. Below that, the place I was born.

The next category was “alien registration number.” Since I am a Nisei, this category had no information on me.

Then there was the language category. Mine read, “English, read, write, speak; Japanese, speak.”

Then it indicated that I was interned at Santa Anita Assembly Center and Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

My addresses prior to evacuation were listed: Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Gilroy and Las Gatos, all in Santa Clara County. Where did they get information like this?

All of the above was followed by such information as my parents’ place of birth.

What was more startling was that the record listed my Issei father’s occupation in the U.S. He was listed as a “farm operator.”

Then there is a category reading “father’s occupation abroad (Japan).” It was listed as “unknown.” They even had a category on father’s years of school in Japan and education degree, if any.

Next came my education record and degrees, if any. Since I was still in high school, it was noted that I was in my final year in high school at the time of evacuation.

Then there was information on whether or not I had lived in Japan and if so, how long.

Of course, there was a question of my marital status and if married, the race of my spouse.

My primary occupation was listed as “farm hand.”

Where and how did they get some of the information?

Needless to say, I’m going to investigate the origin of the above because if it’s available to anyone who operates a computer, it can be hazardous to an individual’s privacy since the record above has a file number.

Oh yes, along with my record, five other Yoshinagas were attached. It listed the names of my mother, sister, brother, his wife and son. We all had the same “family number” issued at the time of evacuation.

In addition, the list contained the names of 58 others with the surname of Yoshinaga.

I didn’t know there were that many Yoshinagas who were evacuated.

Naturally, I checked the list and recognized some of my relatives, but the majority of them were unknown to me.

At any rate, as I said, it’s disturbing that information on individuals such as this is available to anyone who knows how to operate a computer.

Talking about information on a computer, reader Ray Kawaguchi emailed me information on a video available under the title “Thank You From Japan.”

While there has been a lot of information coming out of Japan after the tragic earthquake and tsunami, this is the first video I have seen with the people of the stricken area putting together a “thank you” film for the help Americans presented to the victims of the disaster.

I’m sure it’s available to the public, but not knowing too much about how to get information on the Internet, I can’t tell you how. Perhaps I can contact Kawaguchi and he can provide the details on how to get the video.

It’s really something everyone in America should see. I know I was moved by it.

As stated in my previous column, I’m heading up to you-know-where next Sunday, which means my next column will have a Las Vegas dateline.

In chatting with friends, I learned that a lot of Nisei will be in Vegas during the month of May because of a number of events scheduled there for the Japanese American community.

So I thought I would include in today’s chattering something that could be titled “Vegas, Keep Ace Tips Up Your Sleeves.”

It begins with this paragraph: “Your chances of hitting a jackpot in Vegas are, sadly, slim. But scoring a stay without hassles or breaking the bank isn’t hard, once you know what plays to make.”

No. 1 on the list is knowing when to go. Rates are generally lower Sunday to Thursday when big conventions are not in town. An example is one of The Strip’s popular hotel/casinos where rates are $149 on weekdays but $400 on other dates.

Of course, since I’m a Downtown guy (Boyd Properties), those kinds of prices, whether the high end or low end, don’t affect me.

Since most of the Nisei Vegas fans are Downtown folks, I guess a lot of the information published doesn’t apply, so I’ll just leave it at that on the matter of “Vegas, Keep Ace Tips Up Your Sleeves.”

I do follow the one bit of info listed here, however. That is going on Sunday and returning on Thursday.

I’ll be leaving Sunday morning and returning Wednesday morning.

Hope I bump into some of you readers while I’m there.

We can get into the usual discussion of “How you doing?”

I know one thing for sure. I won’t be so lucky as on my last trip when, as I wrote, I sat down at a 25-cent poker machine and on the first hand, hit a royal flush.

The only flush I know I’m going to hit is when I hit the flush button on the toilet, and we all know how much that pays off.

One thing I know I’ll be doing on this trip is dining at a couple of new Japanese restaurants that have been recommended by readers who drop me letters saying, “Try this new place, you’ll like it.”

Well, if I do like it, I’ll give it a plug.

In my previous column, I ran a photo I had taken on one of my trips to Sydney, Australia.

According to the latest report, Japanese tourism to Australia is on the rise again after a period of drastically falling numbers.

Japanese visitors in 2012 jumped up 5.5 percent or 98,000.

The reason for the drop-off?

I know when I first visited Australia, a guy sitting next to me in the plane, a native Australian, said to me, “ I hate to tell you this, but we Aussies don’t like the Japanese.”

I guess it has to do with World War II, when Japan was a bitter enemy of Australia.

At any rate, the guy’s words stuck in my mind during my one-week stay there and I did seem to notice that the people there did have an attitude problem with the Japanese.

Well, maybe this has vanished and Japanese visitors are being welcomed more.

Of course, I was invited to Australia by a boxing promoter, but I guess if I had to pay my way to go there, I would give it a second thought.

Speaking of traveling, I noticed that The Japan Times, the all-English newspaper published in Tokyo, ran an advertisement from the California Hotel, so I must assume that the Downtown hotel and casino is trying to lure Japanese tourists.

I’ve always wondered about Japanese tourists and the Downtown facilities.

As a regular of Downtown, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Japanese from Japan there.

In my mind, I think the Japanese would enjoy Downtown more than The Strip.

The atmosphere Downtown seems more designed for the kind of thing the Japanese would enjoy.

Oh well.

I should toss this in. I almost missed writing today’s column.

Simple reason. My computer stopped working.

Usually when I have problems with my computer, one of my sons can come to the rescue.

Well, today, one of those sons went to the Dodgers game and he wouldn’t be home until late evening.

My other son was married this past week and he’s gone on his honeymoon.

So, you might say the Horse is galloping by himself.

I guess I can now understand why I wasn’t invited to Terry Hara’s event at which the LAPD’s ranking officer announced his candidacy for a seat on the L.A. City Council.

The other night at the Japanese American National Museum’s fundraising dinner, I was standing by the down escalator and Hara walked by. I nodded to him as a gesture of “hello,” but he just kept walking without acknowledging my presence.

If he doesn’t recognize me, even though I have met him several times in the past, I  guess I can understand why I was absent from his event last week.

Oh well, I guess I’m just a worn-out newspaper columnist and he’s a fresh face on the political front, so that should explain it.

At any rate, good luck on his campaign for the City Council seat.

Time to chuckle:

• I handed the teller at the bank a withdrawal slip for $400 and said, “May I have large bills, please?”

She looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, sir, all the bills are the same size.”

• The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it’s safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged co-worker.

She asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals blind people when the light is red.

Appalled, she responded, “What on earth are blind people doing driving a car?”

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

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