By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
This past Sunday I attended the Go For Broke organization’s “Evening of Aloha,” which is held annually to honor those Nisei who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Although I have been invited to the annual event each time it is held, I am constantly amazed at the large turnout. I would estimate that there were at least 1,000 guests in attendance, which is great because the event is a fundraiser.
The dinner was great, which was expected because a noted Nisei chef prepared the food.
Since two editorial staff members from The Rafu were present, I’ll just write about some thoughts of mine on the event.
In addition to the dinner, the entertainment was enjoyable, all except the taiko. As most of you readers know, taiko is not one of my favorite forms of entertainment.
Aside from that, I thought one of the keynote speakers, a retired general, talked too long.
As I always comment on speakers, I often ask why the person in charge of the program doesn’t tell speakers to keep their talk within a certain time limit. You know, maybe 10 minutes or at longest 15.
Some of you may laugh, but I fell asleep during the general’s talk. It’s a good thing my wife was sitting next to me and poked her elbow in my ribs.
If I had slept another minute, I would have started snoring. That would have drawn a laugh.
Other than that, it was a very enjoyable evening. Maybe because I run into a lot of friends I don’t get a chance to meet otherwise.
I guess that’s because most of the guests are all my age … old.
Well, in closing this segment of the column, I want to say, “Thank you” to Estella Uchizono, who invites me each year to the event. She’s a Bronze sponsor of “Evening of Aloha.”
I guess you can call the following “red letter” time since I’ll run a couple of emails I received from readers.
The first from Alan Dash from Boise, Idaho. Yeah, a subscriber from a city where I once worked while I was interned at Heart Mountain. At any rate, here is his letter:
“I’m Alan Dash from Boise, Idaho. I just read your Oct. 6 column in The Rafu Shimpo, which arrived on Oct. 12 … My wife, Kyoko, is originally from Tokyo and she reads The Rafu that arrives here in bunches. She also watches NHK constantly on TV.
“Your column contained various items of interest that intrigue me. Let me introduce myself.
“At age 17 I arrived in Los Angeles from New York City to attend UCLA. I stayed at a student-owned dorm. The ‘co-op’ had students from many countries, and I met ethnic Japanese for the first time. Never saw a Nikkei or expatriate Japanese person (until then) …
“Very soon, I saw the film ‘Go For Broke.’ I thought it would be about Las Vegas gambling and going broke. My jaw dropped when I saw the portrayal of the incarceration camps. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had graduated from one of the top high schools in the U.S. and I considered myself to be an expert in American history, but there was never any mention at all about the evacuation. People in the East were completely ignorant of that event.
“I haven’t heard the rumor about Romney’s ignorance of that event, but he should know that it was Ronald Reagan who apologized on behalf of our government, as well as most leading Republicans.
“It was a Democrat, FDR, who issued Executive Order 9066 and Justice Warren, a liberal, who refused to apologize all the way to his deathbed. Today, we still have Michelle Malkin trying to justify the incarceration.
“I have spent most of my life in California. In the 1960s I visited Asia and later went back to work in Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. While in Japan, I married Kyoko, then returned with her to the U.S. in 1968.
“Before I went into computer science, I worked for TWA reservations and met George Wakiji in the L.A. office. We became lifelong friends. I believe you are also a friend of his. We also were at UCLA at the same time, but I didn’t know him there. I think I saw him a few times at the side steps of the UCLA library, which was sort of a hangout for Nisei students. I dropped out of UCLA for lack of finances and Army service but came back to graduate after I was married.
“I eventually got into Japanese business during the ‘bubble economy’ of the 1980s and became executive vice president of Fuji Research Institute in Gardena, the California subsidiary of that company in Japan, which in turn was owned by Fuji Bank of Japan. I became the only Caucasian full member of the Japanese Business Association of Southern California, out of 620 members.
“After I retired in Boise in 1997, I joined the Boise JACL as a board member. In 2009, I was appointed by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo as ‘honorary consul general of Japan’ for Idaho, reporting to the Japan Consulate General in Portland, Oregon. I recently arranged the visit of Ambassador Fujisaki to Idaho and introduced him to the Idaho governor.
“We have several hundred expatriate Japanese in Boise, many working for HIP Printers and Micron Technology Corp. Many are here for training. The local JAs used to be in agriculture, but the younger generation is drifting to the bigger cities and professional careers. I would like to comment on other parts of your article, perhaps in another letter.”
Thanks, Alan. I found your letter quite interesting and informative.
Perhaps you have met my nephew, who lives in Boise. His name is Murakami and his wife is an officer with the Idaho Highway Patrol.
Let me wind up letters from readers with this one. It’s from Bob Nagamoto, who wrote:
“In response to your article on Santa Anita (Oct. 10), I would be interested in attending the reunion at Santa Anita next spring, barring any health problems.
“I use a walker to get around, so my wife and son will be accompanying me also. I will try to get my two cousins to attend. I was 10 years old at that time. We entered Santa Anita on May 18, 1942 and left there on Sept. 27, 1942 and went to Amache, Colo. until it closed in 1945.
“My father set up the dental clinic at Santa Anita and Dr. Norman Kobayashi (from Gardena) was in charge of the medical staff and hospital, which was located inside the stadium grandstand, using lockers, showers and bathrooms used by jockeys. It was beautiful inside.
“We lived in the Yellow Mess area but many of our neighbors from Boyle Heights were in the Red Mess area, living in stables. And, yes, I remember vividly the searchlights following me and my mother as I took her to the bathroom at night. It was truly scary times.
“My brother was 8 years older than me and volunteered for the Army from Amache and served his time in the MIS in the Philippines and later on in Japan after the war ended.
“Please continue writing. At my age, there is nothing much in the newsprint that interests me at age 80.”
Thanks, Bob. If your brother is 8 years older than you, he’s my age, so maybe I ran into him since I was also in the MIS. What was his first name?
Many of you have read about the guy who won $200,000 in the casino in Vegas and forgot the bag that contained all cash in the taxi.
The taxi driver saw the bag after the passenger left. When he opened it and saw all the cash, he drove to the police station and reported it.
The police checked its records and found that a man, indeed, had reported leaving his bag in the cab.
It was returned to him, and he was told about the cab driver turning it in to the police.
Remember, this was all cash won in a casino.
So, what did the owner of the lost bag do?
He rewarded the cab driver $2,000. That’s right, only $2,000.
I talked about this story with a couple of Nisei friends. I asked them what they would do if they found a stash of money worth $200,000.
One of them told me, “If the guy who lost it gave the finder only $2,000, I would think the guy would think, ‘I should have kept it and not reported it as a found property.’”
I agree. This was money the guy won gambling. He should have given the finder at least $20,000 or even more.
Oh well … It was an interesting story.
Since Maggie began writing in her column about Japanese dishes, perhaps I should send her all the information readers send me about preparing a lot of Japanese food.
Even something as simple as the right way to prepare edamame, a type of soybeans. Before I read the article, I guess I didn’t realize that preparing soybeans wasn’t that simple.
Just let me know, Maggie, and I’ll mail you all the “how to cook” info that has been sent to me.
(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, It would be wonderful if you would share some of the recipes for Japanese dishes you get from your readers in your column from time to time. The ladies will really appreciate it. Maybe it will help answer the question, “What shall I cook for dinner tonight?”)
In a recent column in which I wrote about the passing of an old friend, Henry Murayama, I forgot an important thing about him.
That is, in addition to being one of the postwar J-Town businessmen, he also was involved in Nisei sports. He sponsored basketball and baseball teams in the NAU.
In fact, his Nisei Trading double aye basketball team was considered the strongest produced in the postwar era.
He put together a team that included some of the best Nisei players of all time.
Here is a photo of his team, taken at a post-season luncheon at which famed UCLA coach John Wooden was the speaker.
That’s coach Wooden to the left of Henry, who was sitting on the end when photo was taken.
Those of you who live in the Thousand Oaks area who have dined at Akio’s Sushi will be saddened to learn that after 35 years, ownership will change.
Akio Takahashi and his wife, Beniko, sold the restaurant to a firm called Crazy King Kong Sushi.
Takahashi said all the employees will stay on, so old-time patrons will see familiar faces at the sushi eatery.
The decor will change under the new ownership of Chang Kim.
Kim said he decided to buy Akio’s Sushi because it’s in a good area where the people love sushi.
We get the chuckle started with a blonde laugher.
A blonde goes into the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. She says to the clerk, “May I have 50 Christmas stamps?
The clerk says, “What denomination?”
The blonde says, “God help us. Has it come to this?”
She then says, “Give me 20 Catholics, 15 Presbyterians, 10 Lutherans and 5 Baptists.”
Hope you caught the laugh line.
No? Well, try this one:
A cannibal entered the meat market to buy something nice for dinner. The owner greeted him and told him to look around.
The cannibal began to inspect the meat case and noticed the market specialized in brain. Upon further inspection, he noticed a marked disparity between costs of brain meats.
The carpenter’s brain sold for $1.50 per pound, a plumber’s brain for $2.25. He noticed with alarm that a politician’s brain sold for $375 a pound.
He was curious, so he asked the owner about the huge difference in price between the similar meats. The owner responded with a deadpan look on his face, “Do you realize how many politicians it takes to get a pound of brains?”
Heh, heh, enuff said.
George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.