With the crowning of Dana Heatherton as the 2009 Nisei Week Queen, she becomes the 10th Queen with an Anglo surname to wear the tiara.

The first was Eliza Cuthbert in 1974. She was followed by Hedy Ann Posey 1980; Janet Barnes in 1982; Sandra Posey in 1990; Kimi Evans in 1994; Judy Gilbertson in 1995; Lauren Kinicade in 2001; Nicole Cherry in 2003 and Monica Tuffer in 2007.

It is noticed that in recent years, it has become more and more frequent to have a Queen bearing an Anglo surname.

So, if we look down the road, say 25 years from now if the Festival is still continuing, will the Queen and six members of her court have surnames like Adams, Brown, Crawford, Dawson, Ford and Goodman?

Or will it be considered “unusual” to have one with the surname Suzuki or Watanabe? Just a thought.


While much of the publicity on this year’s Festival parade was focused on the number of participants (making it the largest in the history of the event), not much was mentioned about the attendance of spectators.

In its heyday, the Nisei Week parade used to draw huge crowds of spectators. I am wondering what the “head count” was this year?

I still recall that the LAPD which used to control the crowds in by-gone years, would release their estimated “head count” of spectators. One year, As I recall, they issued a figure of 50,000. I doubt if we will ever come close to that figure again.

As I always inject, just a thought.


Since my thoughts are on Little Tokyo in pounding out today’s column, I got a chance to chat with Archie Miyatake, who is one of the few remaining “familiar faces” of J-Town, at the former Queen’s reunion luncheon that I mentioned in a previous column.

Archie and I did some reminiscing about the old Little Tokyo, before the Parker Center took away the heart and soul of the area.

So, now that the LAPD has constructed a new Police Headquarters, what will become of the site where the present building stands? Will it be torn down and some other development will enter the picture?

Archie still recalls that his father’s first photo studio was located on the north side of East First Street between Los Angeles and San Pedro streets, which is now occupied by the Police Headquarters.

Hey, the first post-war Rafu office was located on the northeast corner of Los Angeles and First streets.

I remember we used to gather there for NAU meetings because the founder of the sports organization was the late Akira Komai, who published the Rafu in those by-gone days. So, it was handy for those of us who were involved in the NAU program to meet there.

There were also a couple of small hotels, too.

Yes, I think Nisei Trading, the old appliance store was on the north side of East First.

And, don’t forget that behind the buildings, there was an open lot where they erected a sumo dohyo where the Nisei sumotori competed.

Oh well, maybe such tidbits of J-Town history doesn’t interest the present generation.


Let’s jump from Little Tokyo to the world at large.

A letter from reader Akemichi Yamada regarding the relationship between Korea and Japan is quite interesting. He wrote:

“I found the following article on MSM Japan web page related to the compensation issue for Koreans who have suffered during World War II.

“The Japanese government insisted that all the compensation issues were settled in 1965 when Japan and Korea signed the Normalization Treaty in which Japan paid a sum of money to compensate all Koreans who would have claims against Japan.

“The lump sum was paid directly to the Korean government. The Korean government used the money to build Korean industry instead of paying out individual Koreas as compensation.

“The idea was very foresighted.

“Korean leaders thought that Korea needed seed money to build their industry for the benefit of all Korea. If viable industry were built, this would provide jobs to Koreans, and thus indirectly or directly compensating Koreans who may have a claim against Japan. Furthermore, this would-be richer Koreas could pay compensations later. The Korean government used this seed money to build companies like Daewoo, Hyundai, Samsung, etc. In addition to paying the lump sum money, Japan provided economic industries and auto industries. For many years, Hyundai Automobiles received engines from Mitsubishi.

“Korean is now one of the industrial powers in the world. This proves that the actions taken by early Korean leaders were correct and current Koreans are great benefitting from viable Korean companies.

“Unfortunately, many Koreans ignore the historical facts. There are many anti-Japanese organizations in Korea and abroad who would rather take compensation issues to agitate the situation.

“Many politicians including Mike Honda who were ignorant of the historical facts were manipulated like puppets by these anti-Japanese groups.”

I want to thank Mr. Yamada for the foregoing. His letter contains many allegations which I can’t affirm as being accurate, but I’m sure someone else in the reading audience might have another point of view.


Since politicians were mentioned in the previous segment, I thought I would toss in this one regarding Senator Dan Inouye of Honolulu.

Dan is now 84 years of age and has served eight 6-year terms as the Senator from the Island State. That means he has now been in the Senate for 48 years.

Any thoughts of retiring? Definitely not.

He recently held a fundraiser for his next campaign at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and set a record take for a Hawaiian political campaign at a single event.

The event raised more than $1 million.

Inouye is considered an icon in Hawaiian politics and no Republican challenger has emerged to seek the office he now holds.

About 350 people attended Inouye’s fundraiser, with each donating a minimum of $2,500.

Hosting the affair along with the Senator was his wife, Irene, the former Irene Hirano, who served as Chairman of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for many years.

Oh well, I guess if Dan, who is the same age as I, can seek another term which means when he completes his ninth term, he’ll be 90, I can keep hacking away writing a column.

I am one-up on Dan in terms of length of service. He’s “only” been a Senator for 48 years. I’ve been a column writer for 65 years.

Of course, Dan, like fine wine, is probably improving with age.

Me? I’m on a roller coaster down hill.


From time to time I print the following adage when I get mail from readers who may not be too pleased with my writing. The adage is: “You can please some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time.”

A reader by the name of Sharon Ito sent me a snail mail. No, not an e-mail. She wrote:

“You need to do research. You need to read the Rafu and keep aware of events in the community and learn more about Japanese Americans.”

Gee, I’ve been reading the Rafu for over 60 years and I always thought I knew what was going on in the community. Especially the Japanese American community.

Well, maybe I’d better do some research as Ms. Ito suggested.


Another reader asked me if my house was bothered by flies. In recent weeks, yes. So I may follow a suggestion he sent me so that others with fly problems might solve them.

The reader says, “Get a zip lock bag and fill it half full with water. Then put in a few penny coins in the water and hang the bag where the flies are most bothersome.

Tomorrow, I am going to put up three bags and hang one in the kitchen, living room and you-know-where.

Will give you the result of this action.

Hopefully, I can put my fly swat­ter away.

If any of you readers with fly problems try this out, contact me and let me know the results. It might be interesting to find out.


Speaking of flies, how many of you know what the dirtiest thing is?

Would you believe the bottom of a lady’s leather handbag?

A researcher did some undercover work and this is his finding:

Most ladies who use public restrooms in restaurants will put their leather handbag on the floor while they are sitting on the you-know-what.

When finished, they will pick up the bag, wash their hands and go out to the dining area and put their leather handbag on top of the restaurant table.

Many of them when they get home, will plop their handbags down on the counter where food is being set up.

Women carry their handbags everywhere from their office to public toilets and also put their bag on the floor of their car. Most women wouldn’t be caught without their handbag, but did you ever stop to think where you place your handbag during the day?

Lab tests revealed that the bottom of handbags harbor a lot of bacteria. The microbiologist who tested the handbags was shocked. The tester said it was high in harmful kinds of bacteria. Among them salmonella and e-coli.

And those ladies who frequent nightclubs have the worse contamination, some type of feces or even possibly vomit.

Experts say one should think of handbags the same way you would a pair of shoes. And you wouldn’t put your shoes on a counter top or restaurant table.

Your handbag has been placed where people before you have walked, sat, sneezed, coughed, spat, urinated and emptied bowels.

All I can add to this bit of information is “Ugh”!


Well, it looks like I’m not the only one who patronizes McDonald’s these days.

My friends always kid me about “being cheap” because I chat about taking my wife “out to dinner” at McDonald’s.

Well, the latest survey says that sales at MdDonald’s climbed 4.3 percent last month even though the rest of the country may be staggering during the current economic crisis.

Even in Japan, sales increased by 2.1 percent.

The hamburger chain has at least 32,000 restaurants worldwide so even a

2.1 percent profit increase means a lot of moola.

Of course, since I split a Big Mac with my wife, I probably won’t help McDonald’s profit margin.


It was bad enough that the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda got hit on the head by a batted ball.

Japanese pitchers in the Major Leagues this year are all struggling.

So I got a laugh out of a headline in San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Times newspaper, which ran a story on the Japanese pitchers.

It read: “Japanese Pitchers are Beginning to Stink like Natto.”

Boy, that’s a descriptive way to describe the downfall of Japanese pitchers like Hideki Okajima, Takeshi Saito, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kenji Uehara.

I never thought anything could smell as bad as natto unless you’re talking about the way Manny is batting for the Dodgers these days.

Maybe Manny should rub some natto on his dreadlocks.


Gardena City Councilman Steve Bradford is running for the recently vacated seat in the 52nd Assembly District.

He sent out mailers in which he asked the voters what they felt was the most important thing he could do if he were elected. Generally, when I get these kinds of mailers from politicians, I just toss it in the waste basket.

However, on this one, I turned it over and filled in the back of the questionnaire which asked for com­ments.

What I wanted to know was if he would explore what happened to the so-called 9 million dollars the Indian casinos were going to pay to the state coffers if they were allowed to add 2,000 more slot machines at the facilities.

The proposal was pushed by Governor Arnie and the voters “bought” it and passed the bill allowing for additional slot machines.

Yet, not one word is said about this at a time when the State is on the brink of “bankruptcy.”

Well, I guess the Indian casinos are whopping it up.

And, I don’t expect Bradford will pay too much attention to my com­ments if he is elected.

Maybe I should follow the old adage, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, nobody else does.”

By the way, speaking of income from casino gambling, the State of Ohio, the biggest State without casinos, will put 17,500 slot machines at seven horseracing tracks and they expect to take in $993 million in revenue.

Hmmmm. Sounds like California before the last election.


I don’t ever recall reading or hearing about a “Peace Pole” erected at Plaza Park in Ventura.

It was built to recognize the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A ceremony was held last week to observe the anniversary of the “Peace Pole,” and Mike Takeda gave a speech. Takeda attended the ceremony

because of his father whom, I presume, was a “hibakusha,” the Japanese term for survivors of the atomic bombing.

The ceremony was sponsored by Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.

A spokesman for the organization said, “It’s an incredibly important event. The world needs to be reminded and to never repeat what happened.”

The rites included the ringing of Buddhist mediation bells.

I kind of find it curious why this hasn’t received more publicity.

Oh well, maybe the reader who told me to “do more research” was right. After writing “things Japanese” for all these years, I should have had some knowledge of the “Peace Pole.”


Well, my next column will have a Las Vegas dateline.

So, I’d better start packing and lugging stuff I’ll need to write from my favorite city.

By the way, a while back I wrote that Vegas is cutting back on their “take” from their slot machines from 7 to 6 percent.

Maybe it might be. A friend who just returned said he seemed to be getting a few bucks more than on previous trips.

He laughed and said, “Hey, maybe it’s just my imagination because I read what you wrote.”

I hope he is at least partially right. I can always use a few bucks that will last me through the three days I expect to be in Vegas.

Keep tuned. I’ll give you my “take.”

If you see me standing at First and San Pedro with a paper cup asking for “donations,” you’ll know what happened.


Just to keep you all laughing, try this one:

A train was quite crowded and an U.S. Marine walked the entire length looking for a seat. There seemed to be one next to a well-dressed, middle-aged woman, but when he get there he saw it was taken by the woman’s poodle. The Marine asked, “Ma’am, may I have that seat?”

The woman sniffed and said to no one in particular, “Americans are so rude. My little Fifi is using the seat.”

The Marine walked the entire train again, but the only seat available was under the dog. “Please, Ma’am. May I sit down? I’m very tired.”

She snorted, “Not only are you Americans rude, you are also arrogant.”

This time the Marine didn’t say a word. He just picked up the little dog and tossed it out the train window. The woman shrieked, “Someone must defend my honor. Put this American in his place.”

An Englishman sitting nearby spoke up. “Sir, you Americans seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You hold the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your cars on the wrong side of the street. And now, sir, you seem to have thrown the wrong bitch out of the window.”

Heh, heh. Hold that thought.


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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  1. Heatherton is a White girl who happens to have a Japanese mother.

  2. It’s sad that the commenter “More on George” has resorted to personal attacks. How about mature comments? Thanks.

  3. “So, if we look down the road, say 25 years from now if the Rafu is still continuing, will the writers and staff have surnames like Adams, Brown, Crawford, Dawson, Ford and Goodman?”… I came up with this one while waiting in line here at the glue factory. I feel bad for everyone at the Rafu who does not have a “Japanese” last name.

  4. “So, if we look down the road, say 25 years from now if the Festival is still continuing, will the Queen and six members of her court have surnames like Adams, Brown, Crawford, Dawson, Ford and Goodman?” … Exactly who are the “we”? Based on mortality rates I don’t think “you” are going to be part of the “we”. What year do you think you are in right now, 1974? I guess Mr. Irrelevant is basically telling all JA women that it is wrong to marry outside your ethnicity because then you are going to lose your “Japanese” name.

  5. I would like to respond to the letter by Akemichi Yamada regarding Korean/Japanese relations. I believe that it’s important to note that although South Korea did accept a lot of grants and low interest loans from Japan to normalize relations in 1965 the government that signed that treaty was a dictatorship under Park Chung Hee and it was under enormous pressure by the Johnson administration who wanted a stable Northeast Asian flak in light of the escalating situation in Vietnam.

    Many Korean people opposed the signing of the treaty, but Johnson’s administration went as far as to threaten to end defense subsidies and foreign aid, so the pressure was very strong. Given that South Korea was a dictatorship at the time, Park Chung Hee was able to sign the treaty with a lot of Korean people in opposition.

  6. It sounds like some people are reading more into the columnist’s comments than I did. I did not infer a negative connotation about Anglo surnames; I read the columnist to be reflecting on the demographic changes in the community only. They are what they are.

    My take is: the fact that the Nisei Week queen has an Anglo surname with some frequency reflects a widespread acceptance in the JA community.

  7. I feel ashamed that after all these years the Asian American community is still so testy about the silliest things such as “last names.” I have a very Chinese last name, but I am probably the least Chinese as all. The fact that Dana Heatherton’s last name is “Anglo,” (whatever that means) and the fact that any of this has to do with a reflection of her being coronated Nisei Week Queen is ridiculous. She is probably more supportive of her Asian American heritage than an Asian American born from two full heritage Asian parents. I come from two full Chinese parents and probably am more white than anyone…

  8. Dear Mr. Yoshinaga,
    My sister Dana Heatherton has not let an Anglicized last name prevent her from being one of the most active and dedicated young members of the Little Tokyo Japanese American community. For over a decade she has been involved in this area as a volunteer, student, employee, fund-raiser, advocate, and board member. She was even asked to co-teach a class at UCLA on the history of Japanese Americans in Los Angeles.

    It might be useful to recall that, there was a time when a Japanese Americans with Anglicized first names were seen as evidence of the downfall of the community. But we are long past those times aren’t we, Mr. Yoshinaga?

    Christina Heatherton

  9. Dear Mr. Yoshinaga,

    I thought you might remember Dana Heathertons grandfather…Kazuo Inouye.
    He was a champion in Judo and Sumo in prewar Little Tokyo. He was a graduate
    of Roosevelt High in 1941. He was All City in gymnastics.

    Dana’s maternal side goes back to her great-great grandfather who was a pioneer
    in the Okinawa-Japanese community. The Okinawa community was often identified
    because they had “unusual last names.”

    Our family reflects the Japanese American community in the year 2009. Our names
    might be different but we will always be Nikkei. Identity is not found in a name.
    My niece is a wonderful example of the Japanese American spirit and future.

  10. I just want to say that Horse’s Mouth is the one column I look forward to every week. Keep it up!