Just received via snail mail the spring 2012 copy of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation magazine.

Among its numerous articles was the information on this year’s pilgrimage to the former relocation camp site, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 10, and Saturday, Aug. 11.

I’ve never been back to Heart Mountain after I left there in 1943 to join Uncle Sam’s Army.

It’s always been my desire to visit the camp site where I spent a little over a year, but I’m getting up in years so it’s a little difficult to plan a trip there.

I talked to a couple of guys whom I used to hang out with in camp and they tell me the same thing — that they’d like to go back for a visit, but it’s getting tougher for them too. Same reason. We are getting to be old and can’t move around like we would like.

Most of those involved with the camp program these days were the younger folks. Guys like Bacon Sakatani, who is known these days as “Mr. Heart Mountain.” During camp days, Bacon was a preteen, which makes him a dozen years younger than I was at the Wyoming camp.

Let’s face it. Being in camp was a memorable part in the lives of most Nisei.

Heck, whenever we meet a fellow Nisei, one of the first questions that is popped is “What camp were you in?”

When we were in camp, the most popular question was “What city are you from?” That’s because those who were placed in the various camps came from a lot of different areas on the West Coast.

Those in Heart Mountain came from Northern California, Southern California and parts of the State of Washington.

If it weren’t for camp, I could never imagine that I would settle in Los Angeles after the JAs returned to the West Coast. I certainly wouldn’t be writing a column for The Rafu, that’s for sure.

If I did any writing, I might have written on a subject like “How to pick a ripe tomato.” That’s because I would still be a farmer.

Oh well …

In 2009, I was invited to a dedication ceremony honoring the Japanese Americans who contributed to the farming industry in the Lancaster area of Southern California.

I received a letter the other day from Dayle DeBray, manager of the Lancaster Cemetery District, saying that there will be another ceremony next Monday, May 28, to honor the Japanese immigrants and pioneers of Antelope Valley.

At the dedication ceremony, Reverends Yoshiko and Toshio Ota of the Konko Church of Lancaster will perform services in front of a Japanese monument that has been restored.

I’m not sure if I can make the drive this time, but will give it a try.

I’m sure Supervisor Mike Antonovich, whose district includes Lancaster, will be on hand for the ceremony.

Speaking of driving, I was surprised to hear the news that Honolulu has replaced Los Angeles as the worst place for motorists to drive.

Can you imagine that? Honolulu with more traffic than L.A.

Drivers in Honolulu were stuck in traffic an average of 58 hours a year as compared to Angelenos, who were stuck 56 hours, according to the National Traffic Scoreboard.

Honolulu jumped from No. 37 a year ago to the top spot on the ranking for 2012.

Los Angeles has 15 times more drivers than Honolulu, but has 20 times the roadways as compared to Honolulu. Having driven in Honolulu on the numerous occasions I have visited the Island city, I can attest to this fact.

In the Los Angeles area, for example, if I were to drive from Gardena to Little Tokyo and the Harbor Freeway was too congested, I could take alternate streets like San Pedro, Figueroa or Main Street to drive into town.

On the other hand, if I wanted to drive from Honolulu to, say, Ewa Beach, the only route I would have would be the H-1.

Following Honolulu and Los Angeles in congestion were the cities of San Francisco, New York, Bridgeport, Seattle, Austin, Boston and Chicago.

The cities with the most cars were Ellay and New York.

Time to toss in a letter from a reader. This one is from Howard Lee Kilby, who reads The Rafu in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Always surprising how Rafu readers hail from so wide an area. At any rate, here is Howard’s letter:

“I enjoy you column. I particularly like your humor. It’s a left-right-left knockout. Probably has something to do with your involvement in boxing.

“You mentioned in a recent column about free round trips to Japan being offered. I tried to get more details and thought it might be Japan Airlines. I didn’t have their number so I called AT&T’s toll-free number. It became a stand-up comedy routine. I called about ten times and every time I got a different suggestion. I thought you might find it funny. But you will probably find it funnier if you call 1-800-555-1212 and ask for Japan Airlines.

“By the way, many companies offered free trips but Japan Airlines wasn’t one of them. It became funny trying to get their phone number. Of course, in Los Angeles, it may work differently, but here in Hot Springs, Arkansas, it was like an Abbott and Costello routine. I phoned the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. and learned the details.

“I write a haiku column bimonthly published in Benton, Arkansas. I want to interest people in haiku poetry. It is a source of peace and tranquility.”

Thanks to Howard for his letter. If anyone is interested in haiku, Howard can be reached at

Here’s another contribution from a reader entitled “Exercise for People Over 60.” There are a lot of Nisei in this bracket. At any rate, here is the exercise:

• Begin by standing on a comfortable surface where you have plenty of room on each side.

• With a 5-lb. potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your side and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute and then relax.

• Each day you’ll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of days, move up to a 10-lb. potato bag.

• Then try a 50-lb. potato bag and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb. potato bag in each hand and hold your arm straight for more than a full minute.

• After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.

Heh, heh. I’ll bet the foregoing had you wondering until you read the last sentence.

I know I almost cracked up when I got to the last line.

Well, maybe this kind of fits in with the foregoing. This is how one can protect his/her brains:

A large-scale study showed that the fatty acid in fish can protect the brain against the effects of aging.

Dr. Zaldy Tan, a researcher at UCLA and the lead author of its study on the effects of omega-3s, said that even after controlling for participants’ age, gender, education, body mass index and smoking, the relationship was still there.

Tan and others believe fish oil provides the greatest concentration of dietary omega 3 fatty acids. The types of fish that provides the highest concentration of the fatty acids are mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines.

The findings provide an important link between brain health and cardiovascular health.

Okay, so maybe I’ll start eating more fish to improve my writing. Yeah, I know some readers will say, “It’s about time.”

Speaking of brain power, a recent survey indicated that 12 California high schools were ranked in the top 100 prep schools in the U.S.

The top Golden State high school was Oxford Academy of Cypress, ranked No. 19 in the nation. The next was Preuss School in La Jolla, ranked No. 30.

Gretchen Whitney High in Cerritos ranked No. 31 and No. 32 was American Indian Public School in Oakland.

The San Jose area had five in the top 100.

Nothing for the Ellay area aside from those listed in the opening segment of the rankings.

Surprising that with all the schools in the L.A. area, there were none good enough to rank in the top 100.

If you include the San Diego area, there are a couple of Southern California schools.

A reader recently wrote and asked me: “Horse, you often write about being a non-smoker because you just chew on cigars. Isn’t that as damaging to your health as smoking?”

Well, I don’t know the response to that question, but a recent study showed a lot of former smokers are switching to pipes and cigars as a way to “quit smoking.”

According to the report, the switch is costing the government a lot of income lost from taxes on cigarettes.

The shift cost the federal government $615 million in uncollected tax revenue.

Oh well….

Let me swing back to the Japanese and their health.

Aside from the people of Japan eating a lot of fish, many conclude that the people of Japan are a lot healthier because — can you guess? —  they use chopsticks to eat.

Ever try to get a big bite of food in your mouth with chopsticks, or as the Japanese call them, “ohashi”?

It doesn’t matter how skilled one may be with the “ohashi.” One can’t stuff the mouth with a pair of chopsticks.

Using chopsticks forces the diner to eat slowly and deliberately and in smaller mouthfuls.

Try eating only with chopsticks for a week. If you find it too frustrating after a week, you can return to the fork. However, practice for a week and you can slow down and eat more deliberately. If you stick with chopsticks, you may see your body shaping up a lot more.

Okay, I’ll throw away my fork. Give me a pair of “ohashi.”

Heh, heh.

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

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  1. True story. It’s been so hot.

    I hadn’t laughed all day. Then, I read Horse’s Mouth and laughed seven time.