By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
Well, it’s the 4th of July this week, so I thought I would start to celebrate my holiday by not overworking my already fatigued brain, which means that I’ll print a few letters from readers to give my mind some rest.
The first one comes from Judi Kaminishi, who touched on my recent column on “taiko,” the Japanese drum. She wrote:
“In response to your comments about the recent JCI Carnival and taiko groups. Just wanted to add something to your comment.
“It’s true that just about every event lately incorporates taiko, whether it be a wedding, birthday party, church event, library performances, corporate events and the usual Japanese festivals, Obon, etc., etc. However, at JCI they’re also promoting the various classes provided by JCI for the Japanese community, of which taiko is one.
“As you also state, the carnival is a fundraiser for JCI and each class is proud to donate their time to the entertainment portion of the carnival. The taiko group also donated five hours to working the udon booth.
“I teach the class that performed on Saturday and I have to tell you, the students really look forward to performing for the public. It’s their one chance to show off what they’ve learned during the year.
“By the way, thank you for saying they were good. They’re going to really appreciate that.
“Maybe, as you say, ensemble taiko isn’t traditional in its present form, but it is definitely evolving into a traditional activity at Japanese events.”
Thanks to Judi for her letter. My comments on taiko were not meant to downplay the talents of those who form the groups. They are entertaining.
Next letter is from one who wants to remain anonymous. He wrote:
“I don’t know if you were just trying to be humorous, but your comment on the Los Angeles Dodgers was a bit nasty. Suggesting that the team adopt the name ‘Natto’ instead of Dodgers wasn’t funny, especially to me, since I am a fan of natto.
“Your comment seemed to suggest that the Dodgers ‘stink.’
“That’s more of blow to natto than the Dodgers.”
Yeah, I was just kidding because as the readers who follow my chatter know, I’m a fan of natto, too, and I guess a lot of readers feel my writing reminds them of natto.
It’s more of a news story than column material but since nothing has been published on it, I thought I would toss it in here today to keep those who might be following the story up-to-date.
It’s about Oxnard attorney Russell Takasugi, the son of the late Nao Takasugi, former mayor of Oxnard and also assemblyman from Ventura County.
A judge in Oxnard last week sentenced Takasugi to six years, eight months in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from two elderly clients.
Ventura County Superior Court Judge Colleen White listened to 14 people, including friends, relatives and clients of Takasugi, address the court before sentencing. She also read more than 90 letters from supporters along with a letter from Takasugi.
While the judge said she took into consideration that Takasugi had no criminal record, had paid $500,000 in restitution and had been disbarred from practicing law for life, it was a heartbreaking case because he has been humiliated and it has taken a toll on his family.
However, she said that Takasugi targeted the most vulnerable and helpless in society. “He did not think he would get caught and it was easy to get the money.”
Many people requested lenience, telling the court that Takasugi was a good father, brother, neighbor and community leader.
It was kind of tough to use this piece because as I have stated, Takasugi’s late father was a very good and old friend, but I guess I’m a journalist before anything else.
On to something a little more pleasant. That would be nice places to dine.
Ted Maesaki emailed me a letter with the heading “List of 10 Best Chinese Restaurants in America.” Here’s his letter:
“My friend sent me this top 10 list of Chinese restaurants in America.
“It’s very interesting to read the comments that the majority of the places are Hong Kong style restaurants. I think you went to Din Tai Fung in Arcadia, one of the places listed.
“I’ve been to most of the places in the Los Angeles area that are listed.
“My friends from West Covina senior group, Leisure Club, love Townsend in their city, but it’s not listed among the top ones … The old Paul’s Kitchen and Far East are not listed either.
“By the way, we went to Vegas a few weeks ago and went to Makino. I noticed that they stop serving sashimi. They only had sushi. I asked one of the guys working there and he said sashimi cost too much. I used to enjoy their tuna, hamachi, octopus sashimi there. Too bad.
“Their sushi is still excellent.
“I’m planning to visit the new Makino in Irvine. Will see if they have sashimi there.
“I don’t agree with most of your writing, but that’s beside the point. The fact that you write twice a week filling up a full page in The Rafu must be quite a task and hard work.
“I enjoy reading and it’s very easy for me to read your articles, especially for people like me — ‘FOB’ they used to call us 50 years ago. Please keep hitting the keyboard.
“P.S. I was talking to my friend and said to her ‘Arigato’ cuz she helped me out on something. And, she replied back to me, ‘Don’t touch my mustache.’ I don’t know what the hell she was talking about so I asked another friend what it means.
“I hope you understand the phrase. I heard nice Nisei folks know this but not necessarily the younger generation. Can you explain this?”
Well, Ted, first let me thank you for your letter. If you understand Japanese, the response to “Arigato” in Japanese is “Dou itashimashite” (Don’t mention it), hence “Don’t touch my mustache.”
I’m sure you get it.
Again, thanks for the information on Chinese restaurants. I didn’t realize there was such a list.
Here’s an interesting tidbit from the sports pages.
First, let me ask this question: Is there anyone connected to one of the ten internment camps during World War II now coaching major college football?
Most would say, “No.”
Well, the report of the hiring of Thom Kaumeyer as the University of Hawaii’s new defensive coordinator has the answer to the question in the opening paragraph.
Okay, all of you may ask, “Thom who??”
Yup, Kaumeyer’s Japanese American mother was interned at the Poston camp in Arizona and later married a German American.
After a long career in football as a coach as well as a player, Hawaii’s new head coach, Norm Chow (formerly of USC), hired Kaumeyer as his new defensive coordinator.
During his college playing days, he earned All American honors while playing for Oregon State University.
However, with a name like Kaumeyer, we never knew he was half-Japanese.
Well, we’ll keep an eye on how the UH team does this coming season, especially defensively with a Japanese American as the coach of the unit.
Go get ’em, Warriors.
Just in case people missed it (I did until a reader sent me a copy), The New York Times ran a full-page story, complete with color photos by Bill Manbo, on the Heart Mountain Relocation Center.
With his camera and Kodachrome film, Manbo captured life in camp. A book of his photos was published by the University of North Carolina Press.
It’s quite a story and filled the entire page of The Times’ June 24 edition. Of course, all the photos were printed in color, which made it even more eye-catching.
I was in Heart Mountain and wasn’t even aware of one of the internees having a camera, let alone color film.
When I was with The Kashu Mainichi what seems like a zillion years ago, there was a member of the Japanese section staff that I really didn’t get to know or pay much attention to because I was with the English section.
Well, who would guess in those days that Shige Higashi would one day be publishing his own newspaper?
His paper is called the The Cultural News and he picks up a lot of stories in the cultural world that otherwise might go unnoticed.
In his latest edition, he printed a story on a children’s choir from Fukushima Prefecture (the area hit by the earthquake and tsunami) coming to Los Angeles to perform at Centenary United Methodist Church in Little Tokyo on Saturday, Aug. 11. Admission is free.
The Koriyama Children’s Choir consists of 30 children from ages 5 to 18 years old.
Since my wife’s parents hail from Fukushima Prefecture (and her late sister lived there), we are planning on attending the presentation. Who knows, one of the members of the choir might be a relative.
Wouldn’t that be something?
Well, if we get the chance, we will try to chat with the members of the choir to see if, maybe, one of them is related to my wife.
I do get a lot of mail and every once in a while, a few that I find might test people’s brains. This one is called “Brain Study.”
If those of you who read it can figure it out, you have a strong mind. Try this:
53RV35 70 PROV3
H0W OUR MIND5 C4N
D0 4M4ZING 7HING5!
1N 7H3 B3GINNING
17 WA5 H4RD BU7
N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3
Y0IR M1ND 1S
7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17
B3 PROUD! 0NLY
C3R74IN P30PL3 C4N
PL3453 FORW4RD 1F
U C4N R34D 7H15.
Yes, I was able to read the foregoing, so I don’t feel like a dummy.
(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, please don’t do this to me. I felt like I was being punished typing the above because I complained about your repeated laughers — and I could NOT read these).
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.