Published in The Rafu Shimpo on Dec. 29, 2012

Gosh, in a few days it will be 2013.

It means that I will be hitting the 23-year mark since I started pounding out my column for The Rafu.

I’ll have to not only wish “Happy New Year” to publisher Mickey Komai for letting me hang around all these years, but also thanks a million.

And thanks to Editor Gwen, typist Maggie, J.K., who edits for publication, and Rafu executive Yoko-san for putting up with me.

I don’t know how much longer I can last because I’m not a spring chicken anymore. All I know is that I’m an old horse.

Oh well, having moaned and groaned, let me get on with today’s chatter.

In clearing out my desk for the coming new year, I found a lot of stuff I have piled over the past 23 years.

One of the items I came across was a music piece written by Osamu “Ham” Miyamoto, whom I knew during our stay at Heart Mountain Relocation Center.

I never knew he had composed what he entitled “Heart Mountain Song.”

I’m sure those of you who also resided at the Wyoming camp would like to know the words to the song, so I decided to publish them here:

The old camp looks the same

As I step down from the train

And there to greet me

Is my mama and papa

Down the road I look

And here comes Mary

Jet black hair and lips like cherries

It’s good to see Heart Mountain camp again

Yes, someday they will all leave Wyoming

Settle down, do no more roaming

And they’ll never see Heart Mountain camp again

The barracks are black and dirty

And the floor cracks are too wide

And there’s that old pot stove

That used to warm me

Then I stopped and looked around me

And I wondered what I’m doing in this old camp

And then I awake and look around me

At all the Nisei soldiers that surround me

And I realize, Lord, that I was only dreaming

For I’m in Europe with the 442

And we’ve got a hell of a lot of fighting to do

To prove we’re loyal Americans too

And tomorrow at daybreak, Lord

We’re all going to GO FOR BROKE

And I wonder if I’ll ever see my kinfolks again

In that camp on the desolate plains of Wyoming

Yes, someday they will all leave Wyoming

Settle down, do no more roaming

And they’ll never see Heart Mountain camp again

Boy, don’t you think the foregoing was a great piece put together by Ham? I haven’t seen Ham since camp days. I sure want to congratulate him because he covered our camp life days and the Nisei service in the 442nd.

Well, during 2013, be prepared to see a lot of Japanese from Japan visiting the U.S.

That’s because Japanese traveling abroad are expected to hit a record high during 2013. The air carriers will be offering low-cost fares for Japanese travelers.

The number of Japanese going overseas is expected to reach 18.7 million, up 1.5 percent from 2012.

A travel agency said Hawaii will top the list of destinations.

I guess the folks in Hawaii will be saying “moshi-moshi” as often as they will say “aloha.”

There was no estimate on Japanese visitors to Los Angeles.

Hey, maybe Little Tokyo might look like Big Tokyo.

That would be nice. Nowadays, with so many Caucasian visitors to J-Town, it might be nice to see a lot of Japanese touring our town, especially during our Nisei Week celebration.

Oh, by the way, I wonder if Las Vegas will profit from the surge of Japanese tourists.

Remember when in the past, Japanese visitors were one of the largest foreign groups to visit Sin City?

They had daily Japan Airlines flights arriving at McCarran Airport and they were among the “high rollers” in casinos on The Strip.

Well, maybe young couples who want to get married in Vegas will start arriving in the Nevada city.

Hawaii used to draw young couples to marry, but those have dropped because the cost of getting married rose quite a bit.

In Vegas, weddings now run about $800.

Of course, in Vegas, if one hits a jackpot, $800 is almost nothing.

Hey, they have a hotel on The Strip named Hotel Nobu, which is a part of Caesar’s Palace.

Moshi, moshi.

Diane Yamashiro with two of her students. (Camarillo Chamber of Commerce)

Well, time to pause and give credit where credit is due.

In this case, Diane Yamashiro, a grade school teacher at Tierra Linda Elementary School in Camarillo, was honored as the Educator of the Month in November.

Each year, the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce honors the city’s best instructor for going above and beyond the call of duty to support the youths in Camarillo.

The CEO of the chamber, Jennifer Wells, said, “One of the best ways to support a community and help it grow is to help with the nurturing and education of the community’s youth.”

Congratulations to Ms. Yamashiro.

Okay, I’ll pause here and toss in a laugher.

An old lady brought three cans of cat food to the cashier.

The young girl at the register said, “Sorry, we can’t sell you cat food without proof that you have a cat. Old folks buy cat food and take it home to eat. We want proof that you have a cat.”

The old lady went home, picked up her cat and brought it to the store.

They sold her the cat food.

The next day, the old lady bought dog food. The cashier told her the same thing. “You have to prove you have a dog.” So she went home, brought her dog to the store and the cashier sold her the dog food.

On the third day, the old lady brought in a box with a hole in the lid.

The old lady told the cashier to stick her finger in the hole.

The cashier said, “Nope, there might be a snake in the box.” The old lady assured her that there was nothing in the box that was harmful.

So the cashier put her finger in the hole and quickly pulled it out.

She said, “It smells like poop.”

The old lady said, “I know. I want to buy three rolls of toilet paper.”

Don’t mess with old folks.

It’s a subject I touch on from time to time — smoking.

Well, in my case, chewing on cigar.

An expert on tobacco says any level of tobacco use increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke, lung cancer, emphysema and other cancers.

The expert said, “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that any tobacco products are safe to use.”

Tobacco in any form can cause cancer and other health problems, even if it is chewed rather than inhaled. It may be safer than regular tobacco, but still dangerous for one’s health.

Cigars? Since cigar smokers (me) think their habit is safe, it should be noted that cigar tobacco contains more nitrate than cigarette tobacco.

It’s true that cigar smokers don’t inhale as a cigarette smoker does and probably have a lower risk of lung cancer, but they are at a considerably higher risk for all tobacco-related diseases than non-smokers.

Okay, guess I’ll dump what few cigars I have left.

Anybody want cigars?

Heh, heh.

If I sound crazier than I normally do, it’s because my computer is falling apart.

I know, most of you will say, “How can you be crazier when you are completely crazy to start with?”

You’re right.

So, I’ll call it a day.

I know Maggie is laughing her head off.

Happy New Year, Maggie.

(Maggie’s comment: You’re wrong, Mr. Y. I never laugh at crazy people or people whose computers are falling apart. Happy New Year to you and your family.)


George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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