Well, I’m back after three days in Las Vegas.

Gambling-wise, it was the worst trip I have ever encountered at the California Hotel, my favorite place.

While I couldn’t hit beans in the casino, it was one of my fun visits. Okay, most of you will say, “How could it be a fun visit if you lost your okole?”

I guess one would be that I bumped into so many familiar faces. This included the top man at The Cal. That would be General Manager David Lebby. He welcomed me when I bumped into him in the casino.

I kidded him about my sour luck, hoping he could “push a button” on the slot machine so that my luck would change. Of course, we all know that one’s luck can’t change with a push of a button. He laughed and I joined him in laughing.

The other person I met when I went to have dinner at Makino Japanese restaurant. I was kind of surprised because the last time I ran into Mr. Makino, the owner of the place that bears his name, was at the newly opened Makino restaurant in Irvine. I figured he would be at the new restaurant, but he told me that he commutes between Vegas and Irvine to look after both places.

I went to the Vegas Makino on Monday night thinking it would be easier to find a table. While it was crowded, I did get a table without waiting.

In the earlier days, the majority of patrons at the Vegas Makino used to be Japanese. Now, it’s about 50-50 with a lot of Caucasians.

Yes, most of the Caucasians load their plates with sushi. I do take sushi on my plate, but also load up with the other food, which there is so much of — both Japanese and others.

But miso soup is my favorite. As mentioned about my previous visits to Makino, the miso soup at Makino is dispensed from a machine but it tastes as good as or better than the regular kind.

I’m not sure how the miso soup machine works and why more Japanese-style restaurants don’t have it, but it’s really something.

So those of you who visit Vegas for more than three days and get a desire for miso soup, I suggest you try Makino.

The one thing that catches my eye when I’m at Makino is to watch Caucasian patrons dining there.

At a table with more than three customers, I see one or two of them dining with chopsticks while others eat with knife and fork.

Ever try eating sushi with a fork?

By the way, I don’t know if the Japanese patrons are people who live in Vegas or are, like me, tourists. So, for those who are tourists and want to try Makino, it’s located in the Premium Shopping Center not far from Downtown.

For those who may fly into Vegas and stay Downtown (California Hotel) and don’t have ground transportation, I am told that The Cal offers rides to Makino.

I know if I have to write about the weather, readers might think I’m desperate for subject matter. Well, yes and no.

Those planning to drive to Vegas might the following information useful. Here are some hints:

Check the weather report before you jump in your car to head for Vegas. I know I always do so I won’t run into the unexpected.

The weather across the desert is a lot different than what we experience in Los Angeles. It’s not only the hot weather in the desert. It’s also rain.

You might think, what’s a little rain?

Well, consider this:

Say it’s raining hard and the temperature is in the 90s or into the 100s. On our trip, it was pouring and the temperature was 98 just outside of Vegas.

That’s something I can’t even imagine.

It’s a good thing that when we arrived at the hotel, we never went outside again, except when we went to dinner at Makino.

Just imagine getting soaked by rain while standing in 100-degree heat and you can guess what that feels like.

Yes, I know. When I get back from three or four days out of town, my computer is a mess. That is, the number of emails I have to delete from my computer.

It’s easy to delete the most obvious “spam” but there are so many others I have to read before I delete.

So, when I decide to print some of them in the column, I find that many can be used as “column” material.

Sometimes after I retype them, I think, “Oops, I shouldn’t have used it because the punch line was something I didn’t expect.”

It sounded like a regular article. Try this:

“I find this so sad. She truly earned this gold medal, but American Lindsey Vonn had to forfeit her gold medal on Wednesday.

“The International Olympic Committee announced that it has taken back the gold medal previously awarded to the skier and given it to U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Olympic officials said Obama deserved the medal more than Vonn because no one has ever gone downhill faster than he has.”

Don’t all you Republicans cheer with the punch line.

I found the following story as “interesting”:

I wasn’t aware that most Hispanics reject being referred to by that label, and prefer being identified by the country of their parents. That would be Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc.

I guess Japanese Americans have no objection in being called Japanese Americans, although many use “Asian American” in referring to Japanese Americans.

Personally, I never consider myself as an “Asian.” I feel that I’m Japanese through and through.

I guess it’s the media who set the Asian vs. Japanese American dispute.

As I quoted one Chinese person, “The only similarity between the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese is that they all use chopsticks.”


Hooray for the Los Angeles Dodgers! They signed Shane Victorino from the Phillies.

Why am I cheering? Well Shane is from Maui. But it’s not only that.

I don’t think it’s publicized, but the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” is part Japanese. His grandfather is Japanese, according to one source with Maui ties.

But with a name like Victorino, who would guess he’s a “Hapa”?

I hope he does as well with the local club as he was doing with the Phillies.

The Maui News, in one of its daily features under the title “From Maui to the Majors,” features Shane.

I don’t know who came up with the title “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” but since it was tagged onto Shane, The Maui News now refers to him by the nickname.

So now I’m even a greater Dodgers fan. I hope that with him being added to the local club roster, their chances of winning a post-season title improves.

Go, get ’em, “Flyin’ Hawaiian” — soar to fit your nickname.

While touching on baseball, there is a story by an American author entitled “Banzai Babe Ruth.” It’s about the barnstorming of Japan by the famed player in 1934.

Ruth led a team of American All-Stars who played 18 games throughout Japan. The trip was to promote goodwill between the U.S. and Japan, and Ruth was well aware of the purpose of the tour.

Members of the tour included Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

Although the tour drew large, enthusiastic crowds, baseball could not prevent the looming crisis between the two countries.

The author of the story, Robert Fitts, said he did two years of research before he began writing his book. He took interest in 1990, when he was living in Tokyo. He collected Japanese baseball memorabilia in his free time. Baseball became a way for him to get into Japan.

In 2003, he met and interviewed the late Wally Yonamine, the first American after World War II to join the professional baseball league in Japan.

“Wally’s stories were wonderful and he was a good storyteller,” said Fitts.

“Banzai Babe Ruth” was published in March.

Those who enjoy eating sushi and are concerned after hearing about the elevated radiation level in the tuna because of the nuclear accident in Japan can relax, at least for now.

The radiation level is low, much lower than the safety guidelines set by the U.S. and Japan.

Fish that picked up radiation from Japan and then migrated to California during an estimated four-month swim were tested last August. They were below the level considered to be dangerous.

So, I guess it’s safe to order your sushi at your favorite places.

Me? I’m not a real sushi fan, especially with tuna, so I will probably continue ordering sushi with vegetables.

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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