When I wrote in my previous column attending the Kumamoto Kenjinkai luncheon at the Miyako Hotel in Little Tokyo, I forgot to mention that Tok Uchida sat our table.

So, who is Tok? Well, when I read in a Japanese newspaper about a possible eruption of Mt. Fuji forcing 567,000 people to evacuate their homes, Tok popped into mind because back a few decades ago, he joined a group of Nisei that I put together to climb Mt. Fuji.

I wasn’t even aware that Mt. Fuji is still considered an active volcano, and when we chatted about the possibility of Mt. Fuji erupting, Tok couldn’t believe it either.

At any rate, the evacuation plan by the Shizuoka prefectural government announced that more than 130,000 people, comprising some 50,000 households, would be relocated if lava were to reach residential districts in the City of Fuji, which lies just south of the 10,000-foot mountain.

The evacuation plan is based on a hazard map prepared by the central government based on Fuji’s last eruption in the year 1707. Ten zones have been designate  d based on the expected flow of lava.

The Yamanishi prefectural government is preparing a similar evacuation plan.

Joint evacuation drills in Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Kanagawa prefectures will be conducted.

If my group of Nisei knew there was a chance of Mt. Fuji erupting, I doubt if they would have joined my climbing group.

By the way, for those who might be considering climbing the famed Japanese landmark, they are now charging climbers a fee to go to the top of Fuji-san.

I don’t know how much climbers are being forced to pay, but if they were charging back when we made the climb, I probably would have stayed in Gardena and maybe climbed up the cliff off of Rancho Palos Verdes near San Pedro.

Oh well, it was nice meeting Tok again and chatting about our experience in Japan.

Okay, let’s jump from Mt. Fuji to the State of Oklahoma.

Those of you who are my age, meaning old, will probably remember the mid-1930s when living in Oklahoma was a disaster and many of the residents migrated to other states, most of them to the West Coast.

California was one of the most traveled-to states during that period.

Those of us living in the Golden State tagged the name “Okies” to those who reached California.

At the grammar school I attended in the ’30s, the “Okies” and local kids didn’t get along too well.

So why mention this era in our lives?

Well, Oklahoma changed completely from those days and a lot of the “Okies” have moved back to their former homes.

Check the difference now from the mid-1930s.

Obama did not win the last election even in one county in Oklahoma.

Here are some changes in the state:

• Oklahoma passed 37 to 9 an amendment to place the Ten Commandments on the front entrance of the State Capitol. The federal government along with the ACLU said it’s a big mistake. Oklahoma did it anyway.

• Oklahoma also passed a law to incarcerate all illegal immigrants and deport them to their place of origin unless they obtain green cards and become American citizens. The federal government and ACLU said it was a big mistake. Oklahoma did it anyway.

• The federal government made a bold move to take away guns. Oklahoma passed a law confirming people in the state have the right to bear arms and transport these arms in their vehicles. The liberals didn’t like it, but Oklahoma did it anyway.

• The Oklahoma Senate passed a law that all driver’s license exams be printed in English, no other language. They were called racists for doing this, but the fact is, all of the road signs are in English and if you want to drive in Oklahoma, you must read and write English. The liberals didn’t like this, but Oklahoma is doing it anyway.

Three cheers for the “Okies”?

Time to publish my usual letter to the “Horse.” This one from old friend Iku Kiriyama, who wrote:

“Hi, George. Thanks for the plug for this coming Saturday’s  program at the JANM, “Blossom and Thorns,” at 2 p.m. We have a lot of competition with the Grateful Crane show at the Armstrong Theater in Torrance and other local events.

“This is not my program that I’m in charge of, but I am on the panel.

“The organizers are coming from San Francisco. Jill Shiraki is actually a local girl from the Sawtelle/Venice/WLA area. I think she’s a Venice High School grad. She asked my son, the NBC Bay Area reporter, to do the narration for the film.

“Since I do PR stuff with Gwen all the time, I offered to do it for this program.

“Glad you’ll be attending. I think since you announced it in your column a few of your ‘groupies’ may attend. Be sure to participate during the audience participation time.”

Well, Iku, if I attend as a newspaper person, I may sit in the back row and watch the rest of the gathering “participate” so I can gather information for next week’s column, and I am sure the rest of the audience will applaud my move.

I was kind of surprised when Editor Gwen sent me an email she received from Terry Hara, who is seeking the City Council seat in District 9, acknowledging my endorsement for his campaign.

I guess I didn’t realize that Terry even knew I existed, let alone read my stuff.

Hopefully, my endorsement will provide him with the support from voters in his district.

The election in two months will be interesting.

In addition to Terry’s effort to become the first JA to serve on the City Council, the L.A. election also has another first. That is, the first female candidates for the mayor’s seat.

The two races should provide the media with plenty of material to write about as Election Day gets closer.

As I mentioned previously, I am not endorsing Terry because he’s a fellow Japanese American, but because he has all the tools to serve on the City Council.

In Terry’s case, it’s not just his accomplishments in the past, but his skill in achieving what is needed to serve our city.

I enjoyed a recent article presented by the Associated Press. It had a London dateline.

The opening paragraph read: “In Britain a horse is a horse, not a main course.”

The article continued: “Tesco, the country’s biggest supermarket chain, took out full-page newspaper ads apologizing for an unwanted ingredient in some of its hamburgers: horse meat.

“Ten million burgers have been taken off shop shelves after the revelation that beef products from three companies in Ireland and Britain contained horse DNA. Most had only small traces, but one burger of a brand sold by Tesco had meat content that was 29 percent horse …

“While people in some countries happily dine on equine flesh, in the land of ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘National Velvet,’ the idea fills many with horror.”

Horse meat been a staple of European diets. Mostly, because horse meat is so much cheaper than beef, it has been provided mainly for the poor in England.

Food quality officials said they have identified more horse meat in beef burgers produced in Ireland, making it the biggest producer of horse burgers.

The Irish Agricultural Department analyzed the meat and found that 9 out of 13 burgers tested positive for horse meat.

The processing plant in Ireland said they would suspend operations pending further investigation.

The company has recalled around 10 million horse burgers from supermarket shelves.

I wonder if McDonald’s in England served horse burgers?

Since I’m a horse, I guess a lot of my relatives were consumed as hamburgers.


Most of us drive, so we are concerned about the price of fuel rising, as seems to be the case over the past several months.

However, for reasons unknown to motorists, prices drop from time to time but just when we are adjusting to the lower cost, it starts to go up again, which is what is happening right now.

Well, the same motorists have wondered why the cost of soda keeps going up and not falling.

The main reason, according to media sources, the rise in soda cost is due to so many Americans giving upon on drinking soda.

The reason is health.

So many illnesses such as diabetes has been attributed to soda that most now reach for water instead of soda pop.

This is especially true with young people, whose concern about health is making them switch from soda to water.

I know I gave up drinking soda about eight years ago and found my weight level has dropped considerably and I have brought some health issues under control.

As a whole, the Nisei generation seems to have obesity under control, and most of them attribute this to giving up sugar-laden soda pop.

So, the rise in soda prices is due to the sharp drop-off of drinker, but most aren’t too concerned because they have cut off consumption.

Can’t do that with gas for our cars.

The only thing I can do is cut back on my drives to Las Vegas. I use more gas on one round trip to Vegas than I do in two weeks of driving around town.

So, maybe I can toss in a can or two of soda with the money I might save avoiding so many Vegas trips.

Yeah, I know. Some of you will probably say, “You’re worried about the price of gas going to Vegas when you throw all your money in the slot machine?”

It used to be that when someone mentions Hollywood Park, they were talking about horse racing, not the movie industry in Hollywood.

That used to be my favorite racetrack because of its closeness to Gardena, where I live. However, in recent years I seem to have lost a desire to go to races at the track, which is located in Inglewood.

Not sure why. Maybe because a lot of Nisei, mostly my friends, seem to have stopped going to the track.

So I was kind of surprised when I received a flyer sent out by the Go For Broke National Education Center, which is sponsoring a “Texas Hold ’Em Charity Poker Tournament” at the race track’s casino on Feb. 14.

Buy-in for the poker tournament is $150. For WWII veterans, $100.

Proceeds from the tournament will go toward the Hanashi oral history project and educational programs.

Registration starts at 12:30 p.m. with the tourney beginning at 1 p.m.

More information is available by calling (310) 222-5711.

I’m not planning to participate in the tournament but will go to see how many vets will enter the contest.

As a reminder, even those just going as spectators/visitors must be at least 21 years of age to enter the casino.

There won’t be any horse racing since the race track won’t open until April, after the present Santa Anita meet is over.

Speaking of gambling, everyone who follows my column knows that I play the California Lottery. Have been since it started, which is about 20 years ago.

More recently, I’ve been buying the lottery scratcher cards which have prices ranging from 1 to 10 bucks.

Well, a reader whose name I won’t mention sent me an email telling me he won $7,500 on one of the scratcher cards.

Gee, and I can’t even win $50.

Oh well, I enjoy myself even if I lose.

My game? It’s the game they call Triple Scratchers.

I can buy a lot of Big Macs with some of the lesser prizes I have hit.

Now, if I ever win $7,500, you’ll find me writing a lot of columns from Vegas.

With that kind of money, I can stay at The Cal more than three days, which is usually what I do.


A reader sent this laugher, titled “Finally Together.”

Sally got married and had 13 children. Her first husband, Ted, died of cancer.

She married again, and she and Bob had seven more children. Bob was killed in a car accident 12 years later.

Sally again remarried, and this time, she and John had five more children.

Sally finally died after having 25 children.

Standing before her coffin, the preacher prayed for her. He thanked the Lord for this very loving woman and said, “Lord, they are finally together.”

Ethel leaned over and quietly asked her best friend, Margaret, “Do you think he means her first, second or third husband?”

Margaret replied, “I think he means her legs, Ethel.”

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. I’ve climbed Fuji 3 times and will probably climb again this year. I have yet to pay to climb and haven’t heard about them charging (I live 60 miles from the volcano so it would be big news). When climbing, the fear really isn’t that it will suddenly and spontaneously erupt. There are many warning signs of that and I’m pretty sure Shizuoka Prefecture would ban climbing (just like they ban winter climbing) because of dangers. We are seeing early signs of a coming eruption, but it’s still not doing any serious venting yet. Just a little swelling and slight venting (or so I hear — I’ve been to/by the mountain 5 times in the past two weeks, but don’t see anything). The real fear is that there might be a Tokai Earthquake. If that happens, it’ll be above a 7 on the richter scale and we can expect landslides on the volcano. We can also expect an enormous tsunami between 7 and 20 meters. Between landslides, liquefaction, house fires, structures collapsing and the tsunami, everyone will be in danger. They don’t need to be climbing for that. However, Fuji usually erupts after the earthquake. It may be weeks or months. If someone wants to climb, it will be good to continue to watch the news. Some experts are predicting a possible collapse of Fuji with the next eruption (like what happened in Washington in 1981). We might not get another chance to climb after that.