Over the years, I’ve met a lot of important people in Japan, but never a high-ranking government official.

Well, that may change in the next election in Japan.

An old friend, a former professional wrestling star, is seeking a seat in the Upper House as a candidate of Nippon Ishin no Kai.

Antonio Inoki, now 70, was one of the most well-known pro wrestlers, and that’s how I met him since I worked for Rikidozan, who introduced the sport of pro wrestling to Japan.

“If you have the guts, you can accomplish anything,” Inoki said. “This is my departure for a new journey at the age of 70.”

Inoki, whose real first name is Kanji, took the name Antonio when he entered pro wrestling.

Aside from Rikidozan, Inoki was one of the most prominent pro wrestlers in Japan for years. He retired as a wrestler in 1998.

Inoki played a key role in negotiating the release of Japanese hostages in Iraq in 1990 during the Gulf War.

His chances of winning are considered great because he has backing from such prominent politicians as former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara.

And due to the fact that he was so popular as a pro wrestler, his name is well known throughout Japan.

He used to call me “Uma-san” when he learned my nickname is Horse.

It didn’t get a lot of media coverage, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded $300,000 each to the owners of San Miguel Produce and Nishimori Family Farms to help introduce their new Asian and conventional leafy vegetables in the Oxnard area.

The products are yu choi (a type of cabbage), baby bok choy, snow peas, and Chinese sausage — the ingredients in a new Asian stir fry introduced by the Nishimori family.

The kit targets Asian consumers.

Nishimori Family Farms is operated by Sansei offspring of Nisei parents.

Hopefully readers will find the following space filler humorous and entertaining.

It’s entitled “Things You Might Not Know.”

The words “racecar,” “kayak,” and “level” are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left.

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: abstemious and facetious.

“Typewriter” is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A jiffy is an actual unit of time — 1/100 of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don’t appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China would pass you eight abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, and ears never stop growing.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

A microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

Hope a few of these items were completely new to you.

He looks Japanese. He speaks Japanese. Only thing is, his name is Darvish.

And he is now one of the top pitchers for the Texas Rangers.

Yeah, he’s Japanese. His father is Iranian and his mother Japanese.

So he speaks Japanese and Farsi, but he needs an interpreter when he talks to the Rangers’ manager or teammates.

Which brings me to the old debate on “interpreter” or “translator.”

Some stories about Japanese players in the Major League use the word “interpreter” while others use “translator.”

Oddly enough, nobody seems to touch on the issue.

As far as I’m concerned, a translator is a person who translates a foreign word into English in writing while an interpreter translates orally spoken words from a foreign language to English.

With the Dodgers, Korean pitcher Ryu is said to have an interpreter.

Maybe Dodger announcer Vin Scully can touch on this issue and it can be clarified.

I know I would never know how to pronounce the name of new Dodger sensation Puig if I didn’t listen to Vin.

The Cuban newcomer hit two homeruns in his second game with the Dodgers and Vinny calmly described the hits and pronounced Puig’s name as it should be.

I often wonder what will happen to Dodger radio and telecasts when Vinny hangs ’em up. Hey, he’s no spring chicken. He’s in his mid-80s so he can’t last much longer.

Oh well, if he retires, I’ll probably stop watching the Dodgers.

I sure hope I can look as youthful as Vinny, but that’s wishful thinking.

I look older now than my Issei father did.

Oh well…

I ran into a Sansei friend of one of my Sansei sons this afternoon when I was shopping in a local pharmacy.

He said, “Hey, Mr. Yosh, how you doing?”

I gave my usual response, “Ah, nothing changes these days.”

He then asked, “Did you see today’s Rafu?”

“Yeah, I got my copy.”

“So you saw the photo on the front page of the Gila reunion?”

“Yes, I saw it. Why do you ask?”

“I didn’t know Gila camp folks held reunions like Heart Mountain and Manzanar.”

I had to agree with him. I wasn’t aware that people who were in camp in Arizona had reunions. I was also surprised that over 200 attended the event.

The other thing that kind of puzzles me is that the present generations of JAs (Sansei, Yonsei) touch on the camps in a far different way than those who actually lived through the experience.

At these reunions, the old-timers chat about the life they experienced, and the younger generation about how “horrible” the experience must have been.

If it was so “horrible,” how come they get together and relive that era at these reunions?

Oh well, I guess I won’t get an answer to the foregoing question.

Oh, oh.

A light just flashed on my PC.

And the message on the screen read, “You are almost out of ink.”

How can I mess up like this?

Oh well, I’ll keep pounding away until my printer shuts down completely.

Then, I’ll have to go to the ink store in the morning and try to finish up.

Which means when Gwen drops by to pick up my column, I’ll have to tell her I’ll finish up after getting the ink and find a way to get the remaining part of the column to her.

So, let me keep hammering away.

Okay, time to toss in Vegas.

The reader who signs in as “Retired Mas” submitted the following, headlined, “I did not know this about Las Vegas”:

Do Las Vegas churches accept gambling chips?

This may come as a surprise to those of you not living in Las Vegas, but there are more Catholic churches than casinos.

Not surprisingly, some worshippers at Sunday services will give casino chips rather than cash when the basket is passed.

Since they get so many chips from many different casinos, the churches have devised a method to collect the offerings.

The churches send all their collected chips to a nearby Franciscan monastery for sorting and then the chips are taken to the casinos of origin and cashed in.

This is done by the chip monks.

You didn’t even see it coming, did you?

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

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