Those of you who visit Las Vegas are familiar with the saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

Makino’s “happened in Vegas” with two restaurants, but this past week, it has opened another site in Irvine in Orange County not far from John Wayne Airport.

The Rafu carried a front-page story on Makino’s opening in Irvine, so I don’t have to make any comments on the new restaurant, but my wife and I were invited to dine there this past Thursday by Al Morita and his lovely wife, Pauline, so I thought I’d toss in a few comments on my thoughts.

Mr. Kaku Makino, the owner, was there and greeted us when we arrived.

I first met him in Vegas and since that meeting he makes me chuckle by calling me “Mr. Rafu Shimpo,” since I wrote about dining at his restaurant a number of times.

When I heard that he was opening his new place in Irvine, the first question that popped into my mind was, “Why Irvine?”

Since he is a successful restaurant owner, I’m sure he did a research on the new site prior to making the decision to open in the new area.

The new Makino is located in an area surrounded by high-rise office buildings, one of which has the name Toyota on it, which means, of course, that there are hundreds and hundreds of office workers in the area who are potential customers for his new restaurant.

The day we dined there, the patrons were divided with half being Japanese and half Caucasians.

Since sushi is now a popular dish in the U.S., I’m sure Makino doesn’t have to rely on strictly Japanese patrons, as might have been the case several decades ago.

I’m sure Mr. Makino will have to divide his time between his new Irvine site and his two places in Vegas.

At one time, he had four Makinos in the Vegas area, but he closed his Henderson and Summerlin sites. So the two places still serving Vegas are the original Makino on Decatur Boulevard and the one a few blocks from Downtown in the Premium Outlets shopping center.

The latter is where I always dine when I’m in Vegas since it’s just a short drive from The California Hotel, where I always stay.

All those who enjoy Makino in Vegas can now dine in Irvine. Give it a try.

Since Harry Honda was the former chief editor of The Pacific Citizen, the official publication of the JACL, and is a devout member of the organization, it was nice to get a letter from him touching on another letter I received on the recent flap I was involved in relating to the JACL.

He wrote: “I was happy to see Archie Miyamoto (a long-time friend) helped ‘settle’ the controversy through a letter to you (April 10).”

If Harry feels the issue is “settled,” I will accept his analysis.

In his letter, Harry wrote a little more about Miyamoto:

“To see his name at the same time I was researching about Maryknoll priests and sisters interned in Japan and the Philippines after Dec. 7, 1941, was truly coincidental as Mr. Miyamoto had given me ‘The Gripsholm Exchanges: A Concise Report on the Exchange of Hostages During World War II Between the United States and Japan as It Relates to Japanese Americans,’ prepared in October 2006.

“Obviously, there were no names in his report of Maryknoll priests being repatriated. But Japanese-speaking Catholic priests were necessary to be with their flock in the WRA relocation centers. Only Maryknoll priests who were in Japan prewar and Korea were very few. Fathers John Swift (in Pyongyang), Leopold Tibesar (in Dairn, Manchuria), Clement Boesflug and William Whitlow (in Japan).

“The Gripsholm carried Japanese diplomats, educators and journalists on the first voyage departing the U.S. in June, stopping in Rio de Janeiro for Japanese in South America who all boarded the exchange ship in Mozambique, Africa, in July. The Japanese completed their return in Yokohama in August.

“Miyamoto knows the German and Italian diplomatic personnel, including two Americans, Gwen Terasaki and daughter Mariko. Gwen authored ‘Bridge to the Sun.’ Husband Hidenori, while a student, roomed with then collegian John Aiso at Brown University in the early ’30s.

“The Gripsholm also made a second exchange voyage in 1943.”

Thanks, Harry. I’m sure these are subjects not too many Nisei are aware of regarding events during World War II.

And thanks again for your words on my brush with the JACL.

Well, since I seem to be in a “Vegas mood” (with chat about Makino restaurants), I might as well “stay in Vegas.”

Most of the Nisei friends who make Vegas one of their favorite places to “get away from it all” are not what they call “high rollers.”

Well, actually, the “core gamblers” who visit Vegas are not high rollers but those who play the slot machines.

And, with the return of more and more “core gamblers,” the Vegas gaming industry is recovering at a pretty fast rate.

Major casino corporations on The Strip and Downtown are reluctant to talk about where their major profits come from, but it’s the slot machines that keep casinos spinning.

Slot machines are five times more profitable than table games. And slots are easier to understand and play, meaning they draw more gamblers.

In Downtown Vegas, where most of us stay, the clang of slot machines rang even louder. Slots zoomed up 19.9 percent along Fremont Street, stoking a 13.6 percent increase in gross wins.

Well, as a quarter slot machine player, the foregoing makes me feel good.

That is, I’m not just taking up space and keeping the big-time gamblers from the casino.

Well, I’m glad that some folks who live in Vegas subscribe to The Rafu.

Got a letter from one such subscriber by the name of Grace Wertz, who wrote:

“We just received The Rafu of Saturday, April 7, and upon reading your column, I for one am very sad and upset that you may be contemplating ‘throwing in the towel.’

“Please don’t. I hope you will decide to continue writing your twice-weekly column for The Rafu. We value all the informative news you present to us in a very friendly way. I know there are many readers out there who share the same sentiment that I do.

“Please tell us that you will not be retiring in June.”

Thanks, Grace. If I keep getting letters like yours, I may not retire in June.

Another letter with a touch of Vegas.

It’s from reader Mutsu Okada, who wrote: “Just returned from Vegas, where my daughter lives. She took us to the Kyara restaurant on Jones Boulevard, not far from where she lives.

“The food was very good. They serve ‘ippin ryori,’ which goes well with sake or beer.

“I thought you might be interested in trying a different type of Japanese dishes.”

Thanks, Mutsu. I’m always looking for new Japanese dining places that I haven’t tried before. Since you included a name card for Kyara, I have the address and will give it a try on my next Vegas visit. That will probably be in May.

Seems like there will be a lot of JA activities in May, from all the information I have been given.

Oh well…

I guess it was only a matter of time.

Since Jesse Kuhaulua of Maui made his debut in Japan’s ancient sport of sumo as the first non-Japanese competitor, many foreigners have entered the competition.

Well, in the Spring Tournament held last month, the first African wrestler made his debut.

He will compete under the sumo name Osunarashi. His real name is Ahmed Shaalan. Needless to say, he is physically huge, even for a gaijin.

He became interested in sumo as a 15-year-old and won the bronze medal in the 2008 World Junior Sumo Championship.

His goal, he said, is to one day became a yokozuna or grand champion.

Many who watch him perform feel that his gaining yokozuna is quite possible.

My favorite race track opens for live racing in two weeks, so those of you who might want to get in touch with me know where you can find me.

One reason I call Hollywood Park my favorite place is that it’s only a 10-minute drive from my house in Gardena to the Inglewood facility.

It used to be that Santa Anita was my favorite, mostly because of the time I spent there when it was an assembly center during WWII, but the 36-mile one-way drive from Gardena  to Arcadia is too much for my aging bones.

Hopefully, jockey Corey Nakatani will return from New York to ride at Hollypark.

I know I often ramble on about getting old, but hey, what else is new about the Nisei generation?

I thought about this when I saw a recent article on Yosh Uchida, one of the top “sensei” in the sport of judo.

Would you believe Yosh just celebrated his 92nd birthday two weeks ago?

He has been a force in U.S. judo for 66 years.

He was born in Calexico on April 1, 1920 and grew up in Garden Grove.

He gained famed in judo in the San Jose area after he enrolled in and graduated from San Jose State University.

I met him during that period of his life.

He coached judo at San Jose State and built the school into a national power, winning 45 championships in 51 years.

Yeah, when I read that Yosh is still involved in judo, it makes me feel like a young kid compared to him.

Speaking of aging, I saw the photo of the Rafu staff in the publication recently, as the newspaper celebrated its 109th birthday.

Needless to say, that would make Rafu the oldest vernacular newspaper.

The only one that comes close to The Rafu would be The Hawaii Hochi, which turned 100 in January.

Like all the vernaculars, The Hochi faces the same challenges as The Rafu with the Japanese American population dwindling.

We all know that in the past several decades, the two San Francisco dailies folded while two in the Los Angeles area (Shin Nichi Bei and Kashu Mainichi) also closed their doors.

Hopefully, The Rafu can continue serving the JA community because it plays an important role in the community.

Okay, it’s time for the older generation to grin.

• A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor’s office. “Is it true,” she wanted to know, “that the medication you prescribed has to be taken for the rest of my life?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so,” the doctor told her.

There was a moment of silence before the senior lady replied, “I’m wondering then just how serious my condition is. The prescription is marked, ‘No refills.’”

• Eventually, you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it. This is so true. I love to hear them say, “You don’t look that old.”

• The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

• You know you’re getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

• And this final one is especially for me, the Horse’s Mouth: “Lord, keep your arms around my shoulder and your hands over my mouth.”

Heh, heh.

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

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  1. ” Maryknoll priests who were in Japan prewar and Korea were very few. Fathers John Swift (in Pyongyang), Leopold Tibesar (in Dairn, Manchuria), Clement Boesflug and William Whitlow (in Japan),” you (George Yoshinaga) or Archie Miyamoto write.. In fact, a few more Maryknoll priests were aboard the Asama Maru and transferred to the Gripsholm in 1942 for repatriation . I hesitate to mention names now lest I omit some.. I am a Maryknoll priest. I spent 40 years in Japan (1955 -1996) and did considerable research on my predessors there. I currently reside in LA on Bunker Hill, helping at the cathedral. Tel.:(213) 625-5702.