HORSE’S MOUTH: Sister Cities

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

There was a time when “sister city” was a popular activity in U.S. cities, usually an American city tied up with a Japanese city.

These days, however, the “sister city” ties seem to have faded away. One that is still active has the City of Gardena linked to Ichikawa, Japan. In fact, recently, Gardena renamed one of its city parks as the “Sister City Parkette,” honoring Ichikawa and Huatabampo, Mexico, as Gardena’s “sister cities.”

At a recent ceremony, a plaque was unveiled with the new name for the park. Needless to say, a host of JAs participated in the ceremonies, including Mayor Paul Tanaka.

I guess with its bigger than average Japanese American population, it’s to be expected that JAs are involved in most of Gardena’s activities.

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Speaking of Gardena, it’s probably the only city in the mainland U.S. where JAs play such an important role. Where else can you find a shopping mall that is strictly Japanese-oriented such as Pacific Square?

It has a major supermarket, Marukai, and all the other shops are also Japanese-owned and operated. Just behind Pacific Square is the Gardena Valley Baptist Church, another all-JA facility.

We live just four blocks from Pacific Square, so most of my wife’s shopping is done there.

As I sit in the car waiting for her to finish her shopping, all I can see are fellow Japanese coming out of the supermarket with bags upon bags of their shopping purchases.

I guess you can’t buy natto and tsukemono at Ralphs or Vons.

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I haven’t had the time to begin reading a book sent to me by a reader. Here is his letter accompanying the book, entitled “Warriors of the Rising Sun”:

“The majority of the book deals with the Japanese military from about 1890 until 1945. The book posits that in international actions, the Japanese military, for the most part exemplary soldiers, showed concern for civilians and prisoners of war, but after WWI, the Japanese military was taken over by angry young Turks, who thought that the world had not shown enough deference to Japan. The result was a kind of super-bushido and contempt for POWs. I hope that you will enjoy the book.

“Please know that I am not anti-Japanese. My wife is Japanese, born in Japan. Her father was an internee. Her mother lived through WWII in Niigata. My father was a Marine who fought against the Japanese during WWII, but he adored my wife (she always has been pretty adorable). I watch NHK and UTB.

“But when people talked to me about WWII, I always think about the Pacific War, not the European War, and I know that the Japanese Army and Navy did some things that are shameful and for which the Japanese government has neither admitted nor apologized.

“Also, when Japanese Americans of a certain age talk about internment, they should probably talk to some Japanese Canadians who were interned. In Canada, the men were put into labor camps away from their families. And once the war was over, the Japanese were required by law to not live anywhere near the Pacific Coast. Have you ever wondered why there are no J-Towns in either Vancouver or Victoria, British Columbia, despite the fact that Vancouver had one of the largest Japanese populations on the West Coast before the war?”

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Just in case some may be wondering about workers in such places as McDonald’s demanding a minimum wage of $15 per hour, what do workers in Japan with jobs at similar places make?

Well, recently Japanese workers did get a raise.

How much? How does $7 an hour sound? Yup, The Japanese are quite satisfied with their new 7-bucks-an-hour wage.

When one considers the high cost of living in Japan, can they live on 7 bucks an hour?

Oh well, I guess a musubi is cheaper than a Big Mac.

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I was sent a news article on the new high-speed rail line being proposed between Los Angeles and San Francisco. If (and when) it is completed, the bullet train will make the L.A.-to-S.F. trip in two hours.

Those of you who have driven the route know it takes about 6 to 7 hours by car, and that’s if there is no congestion on the freeway. So, if you take the bullet train, you can cut your travel time from L.A. to the Bay Area by 4 to 5 hours.

Of course, there are no figures being released on how much the fare will be for taking the bullet train. I would guess it would be about the same as airfare between the two cities.

Most figure that the cost factor will make the new bullet train tough to afford.

At least what it costs to take an air flight from LAX to SFO. In which case, what will be the advantage in taking the bullet train vs. jet flights between the two cities?

It is a question that will have to be answered.

Oh well, some responses will probably be forthcoming.

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For those of you who love avocado, do you know where they come from? Most would say California or Florida. What about Mexico?

Well, be prepared for the delicious fruit to be shipped from Hawaii. Yup, Hawaii.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is changing its rule and will allow Hawaii-grown avocados to be shipped to 32 mainland states, including California.

The shipments will begin in November.

According to the USDA, the shipments will help give shoppers an option to buy domestic avocados during the winter months when most grocery stores stock avocados from Mexico.

Most of the Hawaii avocados will be shipped from the Big Island and Maui.

Needless to say, my wife, who was born and raised in the Islands, laughed when I told her about avocados coming from Hawaii in two months. You know what I’ve been telling you all these years. That Hawaii avocados are so much better than our California and Florida crops.

Well, I guess we’ll find out in November.

I’m just curious if the Island avocados will cost more than the ones we’ve been buying.

On the other hand, I’m not an avocado expert, so will I be able to tell the difference between the ones from the Islands and the ones we grow here in the Golden State? And will the supermarkets post signs stating which ones are from Hawaii and which ones from California?

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Yeah, I guess I’m not the only one who frequently has trouble with my computer. Sometimes with something so simple.

Got a letter from a reader who told me of her problems, but want to share mine first:

The other day, I tried to turn off my computer since I finished my column.

Well, I pushed the “off” button and nothing happened. I guess I pushed the button at least five times, with no luck.

So I did what I always do. I got on my cell phone and called my son on his cell phone. I knew he was in his office, so I didn’t expect him to answer right away.

It took me about 5 minutes to finally make the connection. I told him about my problem. He laughed.

“I’ll tell you what,” he responded. “Just push the ‘off’ button and hold your fingers on it until it shuts down.”

“Is that all?” I asked.

“Yup, that’s all.”

So I stood up and pushed the “off” button with my index finger and held it down. In about 30 seconds, the light went off and the computer was shut down.

Needless to say, you know what I felt like.

Oh yeah, the reader who had problems with her computer:

As baby boomer (and older) surfers know, sometimes we have trouble with our computers.

I had a problem yesterday so I called Eric, the young 11-year-old genius whose bedroom look like Mission Control, and asked him to come over.

He did and clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I called out him, “So what was wrong?”

He replied, “It was an ID ten T error.”

I didn’t want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, “An ID ten T error?”

Eric grinned, “Haven’t you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?”

“No,” I replied.

“Write it down,” he said, “and I think you’ll figure it out.”

So I wrote it down — “ID10T.”

And to think I used to like Eric.

(Hope you caught the punch line.)

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Well, they’re talking about tearing down Parker Center, the old Los Angeles Police Department building. It’s located at 150 N. Los Angeles St., across the street from Little Tokyo.

The reason I’m mentioning this is that before they put up the LAPD headquarters, the corner of Los Angeles and First streets used to be the office of The Rafu Shimpo.

Yup, they tore down The Rafu to erect the LAPD headquarters.

Since the late Aki Komai was the organizer of the post-war Nisei Athletic Union, most of us connected with the sports program used to meet at the Rafu office to discuss how to resurrect the NAU sports program.

Ah, memories are being rekindled by the story on the demolition of Parker Center.

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

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