Over the years, I guess I’ve chatted on the subject of Nisei and how their Issei parents came to selecting a name for their offspring.

Since most Issei didn’t speak any English, how did they decide to name their sons and daughters?

Well, take my case. How come they tagged me with the name George?

The reason I am touching on the matter is that one of my readers who calls himself “Yas” sent me this email: “Horse, are you the second-born son in your family? In Japanese, Joji is ‘second-born son’ anglicized to George. Also, sue no ko is the last born, so names like Sueo, Sueki, Sueko are for last-born son or last born daughter.”

Well Yas, in the case of my Issei parents tagging me as George, it is quite the opposite of your explanation.

My oldest brother was named Sueki, and he was the first born, so your explanation on the final born doesn’t hold with my family.

Of course, my oldest brother didn’t like the name Sueki, so as the years passed, he adopted Kay and lived out his life by that name, Kay Yoshinaga.

I guess I should be glad my parents didn’t name me Uma, which I have to accept because I am now better known as Horse than George.


In reviewing the obituary section of The Rafu and The L.A. Times, I noticed that the ages of the departed JAs are older than others listed in the obits.

Could this be because the Nisei follow in the footsteps of the Japanese in Japan as far as diet is concerned?

In Japan, people not only live longer, but are also much thinner than Americans. They accomplish this by the following simple guidelines entitled “The four Japanese secrets to eternal youth.”

• Eating natto, the sticky paste made by adding healthy bacteria to lightly cooked soybeans and fermenting it. Natto is a powerful food, rich in enzymes, shown to reduce the risk of blood clots and help break up the plaque associated with Alzheimer’s disease. This makes natto healthier than tofu or soy milk. In Japan, people routinely enjoy natto for breakfast, served on top of rice with an egg split over it.

• Drinking matcha. This super-charged green tea comes in powder form and offers the stress-relieving, heart-healthy and antidepressant powers of green tea in an easy-to-use, concentrated form. In Japan, matcha is consumed several times daily and served to guests regularly. Add one teaspoon to a cup of hot water and stir.

• Seaweed. Not just a pretty wrapper for sushi, seaweed is serious anti-aging power food. Packed with the broadest range of minerals of any food known on earth as well as loads of anti-inflammatory B vitamins. So much so that it is often an ingredient in high-end wrinkle cream.

• Ikigai. You can’t buy this secret in a health food store, but you can practice it at home. Ikigai means “that which gives life a sense of purpose.” In Japan, it often takes the form of caring for another life, such as gardening. If nothing comes to mind, stop by a local nursery and pick up a small bonsai plant. It will feel good to learn how to prune and care for it and see your attention bring it to blossom.

The four Japanese secrets of weight loss: Perhaps one of the reasons the Japanese are such a long-lived society is that they are one of the world’s fittest populations. Eating a diverse, healthy diet filled with vegetables and fresh fish and low in carbs and fat is integral to their success. So these are the four health habits:

• Sipping soup. In Japan, a broth-based soup is eaten at almost every meal. Packed with nutrients, it helps you feel fuller and consume fewer calories.

• Portion distortion. In the U.S. we like to pile our food on big plates and feel like we have a plentiful meal ahead of us. In Japan, the opposite is true. The Japanese serve their food in small separate plates and dishes arranged in a way that is spare and pleasing to the eye. That way, part of the satisfaction you get from the meal is from how it looks, not just how much you eat. By moving slowly from dish to dish, eating mindfully and pacing yourself, it will be easier to follow the wise Japanese admonition, “Eat until you’re 80% full” (Hara hachibu).

• Chowing with chopsticks. Ever tried to get a big bite of food in your mouth with chopsticks? It doesn’t matter how skilled you are with chopsticks; you can’t do it. Using chopsticks forces you to slow down, eat deliberately and take smaller mouthfuls of food, resting between bites and giving your stomach time to tell your brain that you are getting full. Try eating with chopsticks for a week. If you find it too frustrating after that, you can return to a fork. But your week of chopstick practice will help you learn how to slow down and eat more deliberately.

• Relishing rice. In Japan, plain rice (no salt or butter) accompanies all meals. They prefer the short-grain white rice, which is lower on the glycemic index (meaning your body takes longer to convert it to sugar) and helps you feel satisfied longer. Even better is brown rice; whole-grain is rice in good for you fiber. So try adding a small bowl of short-grain brown rice to meals and see how it helps you feel fuller and eat less.



One of the things that has changed in recent days is that I haven’t had a cigar to chew on for about a week.

That’s because I buy my cigars at the Indian cigar store in Vegas and I haven’t been to my favorite city in five months.

Can you imagine that? Five months’ absence from Vegas.

Well I’m leaving this Saturday for a three-day stay at The Cal.

Some may say, “Can’t you buy your stogies at a store in the L.A. area?”

Yes I can, but the quality and price of the stogies I get at the Indian store can’t be matched in the local area.

And I’m sure a lot of cigar smokers from outside Vegas feel the same way because the Indian store is jam-packed no matter when I go there. Judging from their conversation, they are all from states away from Vegas.

This trip won’t be as long as I usually stay in Vegas. Just three days because the person driving me — replacing my son who passed away — said he can only stay that long.

Oh well, three days is long enough.

As always, will write a column from Vegas and I’ll see if things have changed in five months.

According to the folks at The Cal, it will be pretty crowded this coming weekend.

I guess some groups are holding a get-together, probably from Hawaii, so I was fortunate enough to get a room.

Yeah, hopefully my luck will hold up.

I think I mentioned it a few columns back that new slot machines made by a Japanese firm have been installed at most of the casinos. I will check and see if The Cal has any of them.

It will be interesting to see what a Japanese-made slot machine looks like.

And maybe after a player donates his money, the machine might say, “Domo arigato. Mata kite kudasai.”


How many of you who own computers have received a message from a company promising a chance to win a lot of money?

I seem to get one almost every day.

As I mentioned in a previous column, the most common one has the following message:
“Hi. If you can speak English and another language, you could be sitting on a fortune. There are hundreds of companies right now searching for people that can speak two languages.”

What I forgot to mention is that when I punched in my name and email address as requested, the first response I received was a request to register any one of my credit cards.

Needless to say, I turned my computer off.

And that was that. Why the hell do they need my credit card number?

So if any of you are asked to sign in, forget it.


Will Japan’s new practice of women seeking to beautify their face get to the U.S.?

Having a snail crawling across a woman’s face sounds like a thing of nightmares, but in Japan a company is hoping people will be prepared to pay for it.

Women who want to slough off dead skin, clear their pores or roll back the years can submit themselves to five minutes of mollusks.

Slime from snails help remove old cells, heal skin after sunburn and moisturize it, said Manami Takamura, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based beauty salon Ci Labo, while placing three of the gastropods on a woman’s face.

“In this way, you can have 100% pure snail essence directly on the skin,” she said.

Snail slime is believed to have an anti-aging effect on human skin and some cosmetics are already sold with essence of escargot.

But Ci Labo is going one step further in what it says is the first live snail treatment in Japan.

As part of the salon’s Celebrity Escargot Course, customers will get five minutes of snail therapy along with a massage and other types of facial treatment.

The snails alone cost 10,500 yen. Sayako Ito, a patron, said she found the treatment so relaxing that she almost fell asleep.

“You can feel the snails moving on your face. At first it is surprising but it’s actually rather nice,” she said. “My skin really does feel smooth and moist.”

I guess my reaction after reading the foregoing was, “Ugh.”


Like all Dodger fans, I am a fan of broadcaster Vin Scully.

Needless to say, I wonder how much longer we will be treated by his voice describing the Dodgers.

He’s 83. Which, to us who are older, doesn’t mean much. He can broadcast for another six years and still be younger than this old newspaper columnist.

In checking around with other sportscasters, I don’t think I could dig up one who is as old as Vin.

He quoted something I wrote a couple of times during his years in L.A. so I am hoping he keeps going. (And maybe quotes something else I may have written.)

Go Vinny!

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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