HORSE’S MOUTH: Beans Sogioka, a Great Fisherman

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Editor Gwen sent me an email telling me I didn’t have to write my column on Sunday because Monday is Labor Day and The Rafu is closed. So, here I am on Labor Day laboring with my computer and trying to put together my column.

Putting together a column begins with scouring around for subjects. The one that first caught my eye was that The Los Angeles Times was up for sale. That kind of surprised me because I don’t recall hearing about it. The buyers were the Koch Brothers, who at the last minute decided against the purchase, and no other serious buyers have come forward to make an offer for The Times.

The reason why the potential buyers backed off was that the revenues were down, as is the circulation.

It is generally accepted that The Times is a dying newspaper. Over the past decade, it has lost 40 percent of its readers as well as its credibility.

In fact, the only real asset of the paper is not its so-called “good name” but its real estate.

Most experts don’t consider The Times or any other newspapers to be economically viable. For The Times, it’s the worst of all worlds — no new owner and no vision for recasting the paper.

Does anyone want to buy The Times?

Well, according to the article, Mark Walter, controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is said to be interested. Also, billionaire Eli Broad has shown interest.

Having been involved in the newspaper business for most of my life, I’ve noticed that newspapering has been hard hit in recent years, especially in the Japanese American community. The Rafu is one of the only JA publications still in business.

In the Bay Area, both The Nichi Bei Times and The Hokubei Mainichi folded up a few years ago.

Both the Shin Nichi Bei and Kashu Mainichi, with whom I was employed, folded up, leaving The Rafu as the only existing publication in L.A.

When we look down the road, say 20 years from today, is The Rafu in danger of joining Shin Nichi Bei and Kashu Mainichi? It’s an interesting thought.

I guess it’s difficult to predict what the Japanese American community will be like in 20 years, so predicting the future of a Japanese American publication is an even tougher chore.

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Our new neighbor who moved into a house across the street came over the other day to chat.

I learned that he was born and raised in the Santa Maria area and he had many Nisei friends who lived and farmed in the area. As we chatted, I could understand why he wanted to know me since many of his friends were Japanese Americans.

He even mentioned some names from that area that were familiar to me. And some of the names I mentioned to him were familiar, too.

I guess it’s a small world, after all.

So welcome to Gardena.

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Donald Sogioka, a reader, sent me an email about his father that I feel might be of interest to other readers. He wrote:

“Thought you might consider mentioning my father, Beans Sogioka, in one of your columns. He and my mother, Lucy, of Chino are avid readers of your writing. My sister and I take them to the California Club in Vegas in part because of your experiences there.

“Beans, 93 years of age (he will be 94 on Sept. 18), went on his last long-range fishing trip (seven days) in August aboard the Excel, out of San Diego. After over 30 years of long-range fishing (his trips have angled from four days to 23 days on various sport fishers), Father Time has called it a career.

“He is best known for holding the unofficial record of being the oldest fisherman to land six yellowfin tuna over 200 pounds on a single trip at the age of 86. His feat was chronicled in Bill Roecker’s book “At the Rail.”

“Beans fished like a pro on his last trip. He was always fishing as hard as anglers a third of his age and hooked up as much as anyone. He landed a bluefin tuna up to 40 pounds and six yellowfin tuna up to 40 pounds and 11 yellowfin up to 30 pounds. To see someone that age fishing on the deck of the Excel for seven days was amazing.

“He and his late older brother, Yosh, passed their love of fishing to their sons and we carry on the tradition. They were farmers in Baldwin Park before the war and continued in Covina and finally Chino until they retired in 1990.

“I will always cherish the memories of fishing with my father and he is doing what only a few professional athletes do. He is going out on top.”

Thanks, Donald. I’m sure many Nisei and Sansei fishermen found your story very interesting.

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Have you ever been guilty of looking at others your own age and thinking, “Surely I can’t look that old”?

Well, you’ll love this one:

My name is Doris and I was sitting in the waiting room for my first appointment with a new dentist.

I noticed his DDS diploma on the wall, which bore his full name.

Suddenly, I remembered a tall, handsome, dark-skinned boy with the same name had been in my high school class nearly 40 years ago.

Could he be the same guy that I had a secret crush on, way back then?

Upon seeing him, however, I quickly discarded any such thought.

This balding, gray-haired man with the deeply-lined face was way too old to have been my classmate.

After he examined my teeth, I asked him if he had attended Morgan Hill High School.

“Yes, I did. I’m a Mustang,” he gleamed with pride.

“When did you graduate?” I asked.

He answered, “In 1976. Why do you ask?”

“You were in my class,” I exclaimed.

He looked at me closely.

Then that ugly, old, bald, wrinkled, gray-haired so-called dentist asked, “What did you teach?”

Heh, heh.

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Yes, I’m finally going back to you-know-where.

Since I lost my driver son, it appeared I wouldn’t be able to drive to Vegas, but I decided I’m not that old.

When I told my wife of my plan, she said, “No way. If you are driving, I’m not going.”

After a lengthy discussion, she finally agreed to ride along with me if I let her drive a couple of hours. Needless to say, my response was “No way.”

So I guess we might be sitting at home this Sunday or maybe you’ll see us on a Greyhound bus.

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It’s one of the most pristine beaches in the State of Washington, but you can’t go “shi shi” on the beach. Mainly because it’s spelled “Shi Shi” but pronounced “Shy Shy.” 

Needless to say, Japanese tourists to Washington State will probably be confused.

Shi Shi Beach is 2.3 miles long and is located about 4.5 hours from Seattle. It can be reached by driving through the Makah Indian Reservation.

Visitors must purchase passes from the tribe for $10 per vehicle.

Debris from the Japanese tsunami has washed up on Shi Shi and is expected to continue washing up.

While the natural beauty is the main reason Shi Shi is so popular, the big waves draw wetsuit-clad surfers.

Let’s go “Shi Shi” (Shy Shy) is their battle cry.

However, to the Japanese, it’s “Let’s go shi shi.”

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Since I mentioned the Japanese in the previous sentence, I thought I would write a few paragraphs about Japan, and when one talks about Japan, what else is there but to mention Mt. Fuji, the most popular tourist site in the country?

As one story on the famed landmark was headlined, “Mt. Fuji, So Popular It Hurts.”

The message was a reminder that despite years of effort, the millions who visit Fuji-san and nearby towns continue to have a profound impact on the environment — whether through mounting trash, poor air quality or suburban sprawl.

I can attest to these conditions.

When I made my first climb on Fuji-san, I was amazed by the way the Japanese tourists treated the area, and when 320,000 of the visitors are Japanese, one can imagine how much trash is dumped in the area.

Even though tens of thousands of volunteers haul away tons of trash every year. The increase in the number of visitors makes it almost impossible to keep the area clean.

The conditions that I saw certainly changed my opinion on the conduct of the Japanese at such a famous site as Fuji-san.

I know my fellow Americans who made the trip to Fuji-san (about seven of them) were kind of astonished by the conduct of the Japanese tourists who were climbing at the same time we were.

One Caucasian lady said to me, “If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it,” and she picked up a handful of waste paper trash along the trail and tossed it into a trash can.  

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Assuming that all my readers are educated, I’ll close with “Puns for Educated Minds.”

1. The fattest knight at King Arthur’s round able was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

2. I thought I saw a eye doctor on an Alaskan island  but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

3. She was only a whisky maker, but he loved her still.

4. A rubber-band pistol was confiscated from an algebra class because it was a weapon of math disruption.

5. No matter much you push the envelope, it’ll still be stationery.

6. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was cited for littering.

7. A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

8. Two silkworms had a race. They ended up in a tie.

9. A hole had been found in the nudist-camp wall. The police are looking into it.

10. Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other, “You stay here, I’ll go on a head.”

11. The midget fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

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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