Got up at 5 a.m. to head back to Gardena from Vegas so we could get back before 11 a.m.

The reason? It’s the three kittens we own. When we are out of town for three days, we are concerned about them.

I know they miss us because when we pull into the driveway of our house and open the car door, we can hear them meowing, and when we open the house door, they rush out to greet us by rubbing against our legs and purring.

Then they rush into the kitchen and wait for us to open the can of cat food. We leave them with dry food, but they really miss the canned food.

Then when we go to bed, all three of them jump on top of us, purring.

I guess we’ll have to cut back on our Vegas trips.

On our drive back to Gardena, I try to make mental notes on what I am going to write about for Saturday’s column (today’s chatter).

I know that I’ll mention our trip, which includes those friends and Rafu subscribers I bump into.

Heck, one lady who said she was from Honolulu said she subscribes to The Rafu and said she enjoys my stuff.

As with so many folks who subscribes to The Rafu, she opened our conversation with, “Are you the Horse?”

I don’t know if I mentioned it but when I go to Vegas, I always wear my cap with the “Heart Mountain, Wyoming” logo printed on it. I received it when I attended the camp reunion a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, they won’t be holding any more Heart Mountain reunions in Vegas, according to Bacon Sakatani, one of the committee members.

However, the Manzanar folks will be holding one — not in Vegas, but in Torrance. That bit of information was given to me by Rosie Kakuuchi, who is a former Manzanar resident.

Yeah, I guess no visit to Vegas is complete without someone asking me, “So how ya doing?”

Would you believe I won a few bucks?

The first two days I was shut out but on the third day, I hit a jackpot.

Since I play the quarter slots, hitting a jackpot doesn’t mean I raked in a ton of money, but, hey, I’ll take anything I can.

I just enjoy having a good time.

They were filming a movie downtown while we were there, so we had a difficult time trying to drive out of the area to eat at our favorite dining spot.

I don’t know what kind of movie they were filming but it made moving around kind of tough and since this past weekend was a holiday, it made things that much tougher.

The parking lot at The Cal was loaded, and in checking out the license plates on the cars, I concluded that eight out-of-town cars had California plates.

The day we checked out, most of the cars with California plates were gone.

Speaking of driving from California to Vegas, as I always do, I check on gas prices.

The station I fill up with has a gallon of gas going at $3.52, which means that gas in the Los Angeles area was the highest. In recent weeks, it cost me $11 more to fill up than in Vegas.

Oh well, I’m sure most will say that when one is tossing money around in the casinos, what’s $11 for gas?

No, one thing I never do when visiting Vegas is use my credit card for any purchases.

I conclude that if I don’t pay for anything using my credit cards, I’m ahead of the game.

Consider a recent survey on credit card purchases:

43 percent of those asked said they never use credit cards.

Less than 14 percent spend $1,000.

17 percent spend $1,000 to $4,999.

16 percent spend $5,000 or more.

10 percent don’t own credit cards.

Kind of interesting stats, don’t you think?

Oh well.

By the way, “Las Vegas” is actually Spanish for “The Meadows,” according to a newspaper article.

In recent times, however, Vegas is called “Sin City” and now Vegas has a tagline, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

That may not be an accurate description for many visitors.

Most visitors say no visit to Vegas is complete without an Elvis sighting. Elvis can be spotted posing for photos in nearly all tourist areas.

Those who want to hear him sing, without charge, can do so at the Harrah’s Casino. That’s something I wasn’t aware of.

Okay, let’s leave Vegas and cover something in Southern California.

That would be something on Aaron Sugimoto, who captured his first Prep League title leading the Flintridge Prep boys’ cross country team to its 20th championship in 21 seasons at Pierce College.

Sugimoto was clocked at 15 minutes, 44 seconds in the 2.19-mile course to edge Pasadena Poly’s Michael Caughron.

“It feels amazing,” said Sugimoto, “especially since Michael outkicked me last year at league finals.”

Congratulations to the young Sansei.

Okay, since we departed from Vegas, let’s cross the Pacific and give Honolulu a look.

Kailua Intermediate School teacher Karen Kutsunai has been named Teacher of the Year.

She has been a teacher at Kailua since 1999.

I’m not a golf fan, so I don’t know what “custom fitting” a club is all about, but 70 percent of Mizuno golf clubs sold in the U.S. are custom fit.

According to the territorial manager for Mizuno in Southern California, there are several factors that have led customers to opt for a custom-fitted set of clubs rather then a set off the rack.

The manager for Mizuno said what makes the firm’s “Performance Fitting System” unique is that it is designed to fit the club, more commonly known as the shaft.

I wonder how many Japanese Americans use these custom-fitted clubs?

There are six facilities in Ventura County that fits customers using the system.

There are three components in the club: the head, the shaft and the grip.

The company makes three different heads for each shaft offered.

As I said, I don’t play golf, so I can’t make any comments on the Mizuno clubs.

Maybe a Nisei golfer who knows about this club can drop me a line and give his views.

In the meanwhile, all I can add to this is “Fore!”

In a recent column, I mentioned that Tokyo is the most expensive place in the world to live.

Well, that doesn’t apply to people who want to buy a home in Tokyo.

A Canadian named Markus Leach recently purchased a 3,000-square-foot home for $500,000.

“Such a property would be at least $2 million or more back in Vancouver,” he said.

While Tokyo maintains its reputation as being the world’s most expensive city, a steady migration to urban centers and long-term population decline have left a swaths of properties that can be purchased for a pittance by international standards.

Bargains like this have proved to be powerful motivators for foreigners who are willing to deal with the potential pitfalls awaiting anyone dabbling in a foreign country’s property market.

In Tokyo, property ownership is simple. There are no nationality or residency requirements. Title is transferred at local municipal offices, eliminating any need for searches of title insurance, and closing costs are just 3 to 5 percent of the purchase price.

Any Japanese American considering a move to Tokyo?

Too bad the situation today didn’t exist while I lived in Tokyo back in 1962. Instead I had to live in a broken-down apartment house in Shibuya, which was one of the most expensive areas in Tokyo.

So, I moved back to Gardena, which had some of the lowest-priced residential properties in Southern California.

When a reader sent me the following story, I wondered how many Japanese Americans have tattoos on their bodies.
I know I’ve never come across a JA with a tattoo.

The story I am referring to asks if those getting tattoos on their body ever wanted to remove them.

Researchers who treated 382 people from 1995 to 2011 say that many want to remove them, but found tattoos are harder to remove if they are more than 12 inches; in colors that are more black or red; more than three years old; on legs or feet; or belonging to smokers.

Surprisingly, more women have tattoos than men, the percentage being 23 percent for females and 19 percent for males.

As far as ages are concerned, those between the ages of 30 to 39 have the most tattoos; those 65 and over have the lowest percentage.

The newest removal system is said to be lasers, whose side effects include pain, redness and swelling. The cost is also said to be high, which discourages people from using this method.

However, tattoo removal is a growing business, some people coming in only a week after they had their tattoos inserted.

About 14 percent regretted getting tattoos.

Well, since I’m still staggering about from my trip to Vegas, I’m going to be a bit short this week, so let’s wind up with this laugher:

A husband frantically calls the hotel manager from his hotel room. “Please come fast. I’m having an argument with my wife and she says she will jump out of the window of your hotel.”

The manager responds, “Sir, that’s a personal matter.”

The husband says, “You idiot, the window won’t give. That’s a maintenance matter.”

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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