As we bid, “sayonara” to the 72nd Nisei Week Festival, a thought crossed my mind.

What does the future hold for the Little Tokyo event? By future, I mean 40 years from now.

This thought hit me because the J-Town festival had a purpose when it was founded. That is, to provide the Japanese community with an event to enhance the Japanese Americans, mostly the second generation, who were designated as Nisei.

Well, with the passing of time, the Nisei generation has now been replaced by the Sansei or third generation. However, in another 25 years, the Yonsei or fourth generation will be the dominating group.

In 40 years, it will become the Gosei and Rokusei generation, but I doubt that by that time the JAs will refer to themselves by that name.

There are Gosei JAs now, but I don’t hear that term being used to identify the fifth generation of JAs. So the Nisei will be long forgotten.

I’m in the lower age group of the Nisei and I’m no spring chicken, being in the late 80s.

I have Yonsei grandkids who are near college age, which means some of them will marry and have kids and they will be Gosei, but my Yonsei grandkids don’t even think about categorizing their kids as Gosei.

If the Nisei Week Festival does continue to exist for the next 40 or 50 years, will those who take up the task of promoting the festival consider changing the name of the event?

The other issue is the queen contest.

With interracial marriages being commonplace these days, will there be any candidates who are “true” Japanese?

This year’s queen is Emily Folick. One of the princesses is Erika Fisher.  Last year’s queen was Erika Olsen.

Since the 1980s queen Hedy Ann Posey, there have been ten queens with “Anglo” names.

I can understand that in this day and age. Three of my four sons have Caucasian and Chinese wives.

No, I’m not trying to sound racist. It’s just that I wonder what the Nisei Week queen contest will be like 40 years from today.

We don’t even know if Little Tokyo will still exist in its present form 40 years from now.

Okay, you can stop throwing rotten tomatoes at me.

Let me move on to another subject that is gripping the JA community.

It’s the dismissal of the president and CEO of the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (JACCC), who has a criminal record.

Earlier this year, Sandy Sakamoto, the chair of the board of JACCC, announced the appointment of Greg Willis to head the JACCC.

I’m puzzled why there has been no furor about Sakamoto selecting Willis.

Not only because she brought in someone who had no contact with the JA community, but she didn’t check out his background personally.

Well, the JACCC has named a temporary head of the facility, according to the story in The Rafu the other day.

Why didn’t Sakamoto consider appointing Bill Watanabe to begin with as the new CEO, even a temporary one, until she found someone instead of an ex-convict?

Everyone in J-Town is familiar with Watanabe’s record as head of the Little Tokyo Service Center.

Oh well, maybe they should clean house and clear the JACCC with an entirely new staff.

When I read about the Japan Little League team winning the world title by beating the U.S. team, I was amazed to see an article on Japan’s 13-year-old pitcher who won the title game.

He was listed at 200 pounds and 6 feet tall. A 13-year-old that size, especially a Japanese kid, made me wonder how the Little League sponsors check on the age of the kids on foreign teams.

How do they authenticate the youngsters’ birth date?

I don’t think you will find any American kid who is only 13 that stands 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds.

And his fastball was clocked at 70 miles an hour. More like a college player.

Here’s something else a little “Japanese.”

Most Nisei can handle chopsticks (ohashi) as well as or better than a fork, but many Americans have found other uses for chopsticks.

Here are some examples:

• One American lady keeps a chopstick on the ledge behind her canister to level off a measuring cup of flour or sugar.

• A seamstress found chopsticks excellent for use when she is sewing and needs to turn a sharp corner from the inside. Nothing works better than chopsticks.

• Another lady uses chopsticks to clean skinny vases or tubes. She puts a small piece of paper towel or cotton pads on the end and pushes them through the tubes.

• “I keep chopsticks with my paint/varnish supplies when I have to mix a quart,” said another American lady. “They are easier to use than a wooden stick and they can be wiped, washed and reused.”

• An artist said, “Keep several chopsticks in your art room to us as a point for embossing lines on paper before folding.”

I wonder if the Japanese in Japan have found other ways to use ohashi, or is it “Darn clever, those hakujins”?

As I frequently do, I pick up news items that are overlooked by local newspapers.

In this category is the naming of Glenn Kawaguchi of Newberry Park to the California Board of Optometry by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Kawaguchi is a managing optometrist at Eyexam of California. He earned his professional degree from USC.

The position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per day when attending board meetings.

I guess I lucked out in trading in my Honda for a Toyota.

Two Honda models (one of which I owned) were listed as the most stolen vehicles in the U.S.

The 1998 Honda Civic tops the list.

Newer models of the Honda line are harder to break into because the Japanese maker has installed higher-tech anti-theft devices. Auto theft in Japan is almost unheard of, so I’m surprised Honda could develop the new anti-theft devices.

As the old saying goes, “Leave it to the Japanese.”

Since my wife is overworked in maintaining our house, I like to take her out to eat in the evening so she doesn’t have to wear herself out by cooking, and we usually go to a Japanese restaurant because I enjoy their food.

However, there is one thing that kind of wears me out. That is, most of the patrons are Nisei and, of course, the older ones read The Rafu.

So, a visit to the eating place never goes by without someone coming over and asking, “Aren’t you the guy that writes for The Rafu?”

It makes me feel good, but it kind of disrupts my eating plans.

At any rate, I guess I do enjoy hearing the question, especially when the person asking also says, “I was in Heart Mountain and remember reading your column in the camp newspaper.”

I have almost forgotten about that era, so at my age, it’s nice to have my memories of those days rekindled.

In a recent column I mentioned that I spent a day in the hospital.

It was not my intention to have people inquiring why I landed on my back. It was to explain why my column that day was a lot shorter than usual.

However, I thank the readers who called or emailed me to ask why I was hospitalized. I appreciate your concern.

Let’s just say it was old age catching up with me and since I was never a fast runner, it caught up with me.

Before I married my wife, who was born and raised on the island of Maui, I hadn’t the faintest idea about Spam, the canned meat.

When we visited Maui after we both said “I do,” Spam became a part of my life.

And believe it or not, I wondered why I had never tried Spam before it was introduced to me.

I guess a lot of other people besides those in Hawaii are learning about Spam.

A recent survey suggests that Spam must have been discovered by other Americans. Net earnings ending July 29 were $111.2 million.

It was also reported that Mexican Americans have discovered Spam, which may account for the rise in earnings for Hormel, the makers of Spam.

Oh well, I hope my Spam-and-egg breakfast is ready for me when I get up tomorrow.

As I frequently mention, we Nisei are getting older (old!!) and look for ways to aid our tiring bodies.

Well, have any of you heard of the new massage chair made by a Japanese firm named Inada?

It provides the most comprehensive home massage.

In case anyone is looking for a massage chair in your home, look up Inada, the machine “made by Japanese.”

Of course, I have to tell you, one costs $7,799.

Okay, you can just bump yourself on your air mattress.

As a Nisei I often wonder what percentage of American’s population is of Japanese heritage.

The answer: We don’t belong anywhere near the top.

Topping the list are German Americans at 47.9 percent.

Next on the list are African Americans at 38.9 percent.

Rounding out the top five: Irish, Mexican and English.

Just thought some of you might find this interesting.

Okay, I know I frequently use “dumb blonde jokes.” They would be women. Well, here are a few using blonde men:

• A friend tells the blonde man, “Christmas is on Friday this year.” The man says, “Let’s not hope it’s not on Friday the 13th.”

• Two blonde men find three grenades and they decide to take them to the police station. One asks, “What if one explodes before we get there?” The other man says, “We’ll lie and say we only found two.”

• A blonde man spies a letter lying on his doormat. It says on the envelope, “Do not bend.” The man spends the next two hours trying to figure out how to pick it up.

• A blonde man’s dog is missing and he is frantic. His wife says, “Why don’t you put an ad in the paper?” He does but two weeks later the dog is still missing. “What did you put in the paper?” his wife asks. “Here boy,” he replies.

(Maggie’s comments:  Hurrah, Mr. Y., you did it! I really enjoyed typing those blonde men jokes).

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. As a half Japanese myself (my father was a Nisei) I see no problem with hapa Nisei Week Queens. As long as the Lil Tokyo and Nikkei community accept hapa people as Japanese Americans, those hapa people will embrace the culture and customs as I have. After having endured discrimination myself at certain times in Sho Tokyo, it has not stopped me from going to my favorite restaurant (Mitsuru Grill on First Street) or from enjoying Nisei Week Matsuri, I do not look Japanese but in my heart I am a Sansei through and through. If the JA community does not accept hapa people, then it will vanish. But when I was first discriminated against in Lil Tokyo back inthe 1980s, I was shocked. Growing up in Ohio amongst mostly hakujin, my siblings and I were viewed as Japanese.and many times discriminated against. To encounter that same kind of prejudice from a Japanese American was shocking, as I thought JAs were above that kind of behavior after what happened in WWII.
    I personally boycotted the JANM for many years until I finally made a formal complaint by letter and received a gomen nasai letter from the director.