Yeah, I missed the opening of Nisei Week.

I was planning on attending and had it marked on my calendar, but things always happen and I had to cancel my visit to Little Tokyo.

Oh well.

One thing about driving into J-Town during Nisei Week is the lack of parking.

Last year I lucked out and got one of the last spaces in the lot behind the Japanese American National Museum.

With my legs feeling like they are 88 years old, I don’t want to walk too much and finding the right parking space is almost a must.

Actually, I wanted to go into J-Town to check with a Japanese sword expert about a sword I was given when I was living in Tokyo.

I never had my sword evaluated, but I was told that it is worth a lot of money.

Never thought too much about it until I saw an article on a sword expert evaluating Japanese swords.

It was given to me by a Japanese yakuza oyabun (gang boss) who told me it once belonged to a samurai warrior. I didn’t give that much thought until years later, but by that time I had returned to the U.S. and the sword was tossed in the closet, where it has remained all these years.

Since sword expert had his phone number printed in The Rafu, maybe I’ll try to get in touch with him.

Heck, if the sword is worth anything, maybe I’ll dump it.

Yeah, maybe then I can jump in my car and head for Vegas.


Congratulations to Miss Gardena for winning this year’s queen’s tiara.

And I hit the nail on the head.

When they printed the photos of this year’s queen contestants, I tabbed Miss Gardena as my choice.

No not because she represented my hometown of Gardena, but because she looked like the winner.

So I guess for the next year, she will not only represent Nisei Week, but my hometown.

When I say “my hometown,” I suddenly realize that I am now nearing 60 years as a resident in Gardena.

Imagine that. 60 years.

When I tell people what I paid for my three-bedroom house back in 1953, they all say, “Go on, you can’t even rent a house for that kind of money these days.”

And that’s true.

Well, that’s life.


Well, that’s it for saying I’m a journalist.

In a recent survey on high and low public esteem, the highest-rated were those in the military with 75% picking those who wear the uniforms of our country.

In second place were teachers at 72%, followed by medical doctors at 66%.

Lowest? Journalists at 28% and lawyers at 18%.

I knew I should have been a garbage collector.


I kind of wondered why the story didn’t get any publicity.

That is, the appointment of Caroline Kennedy as the next United States ambassador to Japan.

Her appointment was announced by the Obama Administration, which will give her the kind of formal public role many have predicted for her.

Walter Mondale said, “The Japanese will be thrilled with this news. She will be very popular. They love the Kennedys in Japan. They’ve worked with several of them and appreciate their position in public life.

“Japan knows she’s an American star and they know she’s a serious person and that she’ll be well prepared. It will be a strong embassy under her leadership. The Japanese will be honored.”

Ms. Kennedy would not comment on the stories being written about her appointment.

The appointment has not yet been confirmed.

Just curious if Ms. Kennedy has a working knowledge of the Japanese language.

As the Japanese say, “Naruhodo.”


Okay, jumping from Japan to Las Vegas.

So what else is new for my column?

The latest news out of Vegas is that crowds are returning to the city in large numbers but they are gambling less.

Must be my friends.

When the last recession battered the U.S., the bottom fell out of Vegas.

One out of every six jobs vanished. Home prices dropped as much as 50%. Construction projects stopped and tourist spending on The Strip, the economic driver of the city, went into an alarming slide.

These days, jobs are back, the housing market is bustling and people are moving back. The number of visitors hit a record last year.

Just looking at the sidewalks of The Strip is evidence as people are shoulder-to-shoulder even as the temperatures surge past 110 degrees.

More than 39.7 million visited Vegas, but spent less money.

Each visitor spent $1.021 during their short stay.

The total revenue from gambling was $15.3 billion last year, $500 million less than the previous year.

Even Downtown is packed these days.

Unemployment in Vegas was 9.6% in April, down from 14.6% two years ago.

An economic analyst said, “We are now in the top six states in terms of population immigration. We are at the top of the pack in terms of new job formation.”

I’m curious if any agency has taken a poll of the Japanese American population in the city.

There are a number of polls on the Chinese and Korean influx to Vegas and the development of Chinatowns and Koreatowns can attest to the growth of these two groups.

Oh well, I guess if the Japanese population continues to grow, maybe Marukai will open a supermarket in the city.

Don’t laugh. When the Japanese population of Cupertino, a Northern California city near San Jose, grew and grew, Marukai opened a branch there.

My daughter-in-law lives in Cupertino and tells me Marukai is always jammed with Japanese customers.


Rafu reader sent me an email and in its contents posed the question “Are you stupid and uneducated?”

Well, I ran his letter and he is quite upset over it.

He wrote: “In my email concerning your comments about Korean comfort women, I specifically told you that the email was not for publication and you deigned to ignore my request that the email not be used for publication.”

Okay, I apologize.

However, if a reader calls me stupid or uneducated, I guess I had to respond somehow.

But accept my apology if I failed to note that you didn’t want to be recognized.


As an old and longtime friend of Poncie Ponce, I’m glad a number of publications carried the news of his passing over the past few weeks.

He was such a great entertainer, and I’m sure many in the Japanese American community saw him perform.

The one thing I kind of forgot to mention about our relationship was that when I first met him, I always called him “Poncie Poncie.”

We used to have a big laugh over the years because of my goof in pronouncing his name.


Oh well, I guess I’ll just wind it up for today, about four paragraphs short of my usual chatter. Yes, I am tossing in my laugher. See ya next Saturday.


Once there was a little boy who lived in the country.

They had to use an outhouse, and the little boy hated it because it was hot in the summer and cold in the winter and stank all the time.

The outhouse was sitting on the bank of a creek and the boy was determined that one day he would push that outhouse into the creek.

One day after a spring rain, the creek was swollen, so the little boy decided today was the day to push the outhouse into the creek. He got a large stick and started pushing.

Finally the outhouse toppled into the creek and floated away.

That night his father told him they were going to the woodshed after supper. Knowing that meant a spanking, the little boy asked why.

The dad replied, “Someone pushed the outhouse into the creek today. It was you, wasn’t it?”

The boy answered yes. Then he thought for a moment and said, “Dad, I read in school today that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree and didn’t get in trouble because he told the truth.”

The dad replied, “Well, son, George Washington’s father wasn’t in the cherry tree.”

Don’t stop laughing. Try this one:

Four surgeons sat around discussing whom they like to operate on.

The first surgeon said, “I like to operate on librarians. When you open them up, everything is in alphabetical order.”

The second surgeon said, “I like operating on accountants. When you open them up, everything is in numerical order.”

The third surgeon said, “I like operating on electricians. When you open them up, everything is color-coded.”

The fourth surgeon said, “I like operating on politicians.” The other three surgeons looked at each other in disbelief. One of them asked why.

The fourth surgeon replied, “Because they are heartless, gutless, spineless, and their ass and head are interchangeable.”

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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