HORSE’S MOUTH: My So-called Language Skills

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Jan. 21, 2015)

Boy, time passes. Seems like only yesterday we were exchanging New Year’s greetings with friends and here it is almost the end of January.

When time passes, we forget a lot of things.

Example:

Well, I glanced at my calendar and saw that I forgot that on Saturday that I along with my wife were invited to the Japanese American Korean War Veterans’ new officers installation and New Year’s celebration.

Not only did I forget, but the celebration was held at the Sea Empress Restaurant in Gardena, which is walking distance from my house

I have to apologize to Bacon Sakatani for goofing up and forgetting about the event. Sorry, Bacon. I guess as times passes and we get older, we can’t keep our thoughts together.

I noticed in your invitation to me that Editor Gwen and photographer Mario were invited, so the event will get coverage in The Rafu.

Again, my apologies. I’m sure those in attendance had an enjoyable day.

As a vet myself (WWII), I look forward to veterans’ affairs, so missing your get-together was a real goof.

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Yeah, getting old is something we can’t avoid.

When I admit to being a World War II vet, one can guess what an old fogie I am.

But, hey, being a Korean War vet isn’t being a spring chicken anymore. Most WWII vets are now in their late 80s and early 90s, and there aren’t too many of us left.

Yeah, as everyone says these days, time passes.

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As most know, the Nisei who served in the military during World War II entered the service from relocation centers, which means that we were sent to military facilities from the camp.

I know that the group I was with had to go to Denver, Colorado, for our pre-induction physical exam, a one-day trip from Wyoming.

Those of us who passed our physicals were then ordered to report to a military base in St. Louis, Missouri and from there to basic training camp in Camp Blanding, Florida. It was quite a journey.

After basic training as infantry soldiers, the majority was sent to a military camp in Maryland. From there, they were shipped to Europe to join the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the all-Nisei unit, as replacements.

Me? Well, 20 of us who were given Japanese language tests were classified as having language skills and were put on trains to head for the West Coast to be shipped to the Pacific War Zone.

I protested that my language skill didn’t qualify me to serve in the Pacific, but the Army didn’t listen. When the war ended, I ended up in Japan.

Well, I had hoped it would be the end of my story, but it wasn’t.

I was assigned to a unit whose job was to gather information on the Japanese military. With my so-called language skills, I couldn’t do too much, but most of the Army personnel figured that since I was of Japanese heritage, my language skills were great.

Great disaster might to be a better description. The Army couldn’t believe that a person of Japanese heritage couldn’t understand the language, so they figured I was faking it when I said my Japanese ability was zero.

You can imagine what a great time I had being an interpreter/translator with zero language skills.

Needless to say, I ended up as a jeep driver to the company commander.

I think a lot of Nisei GIs were caught up in the same situation that I was given.

Yes, I know a lot of Nisei went to Japanese language school prior to being evacuated, but there are a lot of us whose Japanese was pretty bad.

I know a lot of Nisei who went to Japanese language school after their regular schooling, but I was not one of them. I just didn’t care about learning the Japanese language and my parents didn’t pressure me into learning it.

Well, that’s the way it was.

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I frequently mention going to grab a bite, usually at a Japanese-style eatery. Well, in Gardena there are supposed to be a large number of these types of eateries, but that’s not always the case.

When I recently had lunch with Iku and Gwen, it was supposed to be a Japanese-style restaurant but it was more Hawaiian in the type of food served.

My order was served with rice. If serving lunch or dinner with rice makes it “Japanese,” so be it.

However, I don’t think what I ordered came close to “Japanese.” And the plates Gwen and Iku ordered was about the same as mine as far as being “Japanese” was concerned.

Hey, does a slice of baloney next to a bowl of rice make it Japanese?

I don’t think so. It’s more like a lot of baloney.

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Speaking of baloney, fast-food restaurants feel their food is over-processed. That includes McDonald’s, Taco Bell and other chains that are trying to shed their reputation for serving reheated meals that are loaded with chemicals.

One way chains are looking to redefine themselves is by purging recipes of chemicals people might find unappetizing. Already packaged food and beverage companies have reformulated products that remove such ingredients even while standing by their safety.

PepsiCo, for instance, said it would remove brominated vegetable oil from its Gatorade after a petition by a teenager noted it isn’t approved for use in some markets overseas.

Last month, McDonald’s USA outlined improvements the company is working on, including the simplification of ingredient labels.

“Why do we have preservatives in our food?” a company employee was asked. His reply: “We probably don’t.”

Chick-fil-A said it would remove high fructose corn syrup from buns and artificial dyes from its dressings.

Subway started airing TV ads for its new chicken strips, which are free of artificial preservatives and flavors.

Carl’s Jr. last month introduced an “all natural” burger with no added hormones, antibiotics or steroids.

It’s not clear how far fast-food companies will go in reformulating recipes, but the nation’s chains are facing growing competition.

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Those who have visited Tokyo in recent times have seen some changes in the architecture that have amazed the tourists, especially Americans.

Try these unusual new homes in Tokyo with unusual names.

Lucky Drops and Reflection in Mineral by architecture team Atelier Tekuto.

Lucky Drops and Reflection in Mineral by architecture team Atelier Tekuto.

Other names include BB House by architect Yo Yamagata, Delta by Architecton, Edge Yard by October architects, and House with No Kitchen by Atelier Taku Iizuka.

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 One of the great benefits of retirement is having the time and freedom to pursue interests that didn’t fit into your schedule when you worked 40 or more hours a week.

If extensive travel is on your list, you’ll want to account for the cost of it as you’re planning for retirement. Here are some tips to help you prepare to hit the road when you’re ready to retire. Include travel as a line item in your retirement plans:

  • Aim to stay healthy and handle the rigors of ravel. It helps to be in good physical condition.
  • Don’t delay your plans. Once you’ve reach retirement age, you have time to travel, but you don’t want to wait too long to get going. Most retirees try to plan their biggest travel excursions the early years of retirement.
  • Where do you want to go in retirement? If you are married, are you and your spouse interested in the same destination? Do you hope to join up with tour groups or prefer to travel alone? Start making a list of where you want to travel. If you are planning to spend time overseas, make sure you have current passports ready to go well in advance. If countries you are visiting require a visa for entry, make sure you know what needs to be done to make that happen.
  • Do your research ahead of time.

The key point for anybody with serious travel ambitions in retirement is to go beyond dreaming and doing some preparation in advance. That includes saving money, taking care of your health, and researching potential trips so you make the most of your travel in retirement.

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

 

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