Hooray! By the time some of you may be reading today’s column, I’ll be in my favorite city donating to the casino slot machines. Yup, I’ll be in Las Vegas, so my next column will have a Vegas dateline.

One of the things I look forward to when visiting Vegas has nothing to do with slot machines. It’s having breakfast with a friend who is a permanent resident of Vegas. That would be Rosie Kakuuchi and her sister, Grace, and daughter.

Since it’s been five months since my last visit her, getting together with Rosie and her sister and daughter is one of the highlights of my brief visit. Which reminds me that when I travel, whether it be to Vegas, Tokyo or some other cities in the U.S., I like to take “omiyage” to those I get together with.

I guess it’s an old Japanese custom. So what kind of “omiyage” can one take to friends living in Vegas?

Since they don’t have any Japanese supermarket like Marukai where they might be able to purchase Japanese things, I make it a point to fill their needs in this area.

That usually means I take them boxes of senbei and with the help of Tak Hamano, owner and operator of Umeya Senbei Company in Los Angeles, I’m able to load a few boxes of the Japanese confection in the trunk of my car.

Judging from their reaction, I’m sure senbei is greatly appreciated  by Rosie and her family members.

So I have to thank Tak for supplying me with the boxes of senbei I take with me for my friends in Vegas.

One of these days, when I have the time, I want to do a story on Rosie and the others who live in Vegas as residents, not visitors who only spend time in the casinos.

Naturally, I would start with why people who move to Vegas decided on such a choice and how they spend most of their time.

I’m sure they don’t hang out in the casinos like those of us who are tourists.

Perhaps after this trip, I will begin to put together such a story, which I am pretty sure would make good reading.

(Maggie’s comment: Yes, Mr. Y., I agree that would really make good and interesting reading rather than quoting so many of your readers’ emails, etc.)

Oh well, let me get on with today’s chatter.


Baseball season for 2013 is now history, but some stories about the game are capturing attention in the L.A. media.

One of them is the possible signing of a Japanese pitcher named Tanaka by the L.A. Dodgers.

The interesting point regarding this story is that the Los Angeles Angels are also interested in signing Tanaka, along with a couple of other big-league teams.

Hopefully, the Dodgers will win the battle for Tanaka’s services.

We may recall that it was the Dodgers who signed the first Japanese pitcher a number of years back, but they let him go and he went on to star for several big-league clubs.

Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen with Tanaka.


Oh, before I forget to mention it, another Japanese restaurant was opened recently in Vegas.

A friend dined there and gave me a business card he received on his visit. It’s a place called I-Naba. It’s located at 3210 S. Decatur Blvd., which isn’t too far from Downtown Vegas.

Their card reads, “Introducing authentic Japanese noodles in Las Vegas.”

Yes, I’m going to give it a try.


As always, I filled up my car’s gas tank at my Shell station in Gardena. I paid $3.56 for a gallon. Two weeks ago, the price was $4.12, which means the fuel was 60 cents less, and judging from the price at Vegas stations, the difference is almost nil.

Usually, gas in Vegas is about 50 cents less than in the L.A. area.

I would assume that the price today might get more L.A. area motorists to take the drive to Vegas.

I know. Why would anyone pay attention to the price of gas when contemplating driving to Vegas and “donating” to the casinos?

Maybe it’s just me.


One thing I may not be doing when visiting Vegas is going to my favorite Indian cigar store to pick up my supply of stogies.

The reason?

Since I’ve cut back on visiting Vegas, I’ve gone back to ordering my cigars from a supply store in Florida. Since they are located in Florida, they carry real imported Cuban cigars and the price is only a little more than the Vegas Indian shop.

Naturally, the Florida shop was happy to get my business again and after my recent purchase, they told me the next order is “on the house.”

How can I beat that?

So, I guess it’s “sayonara” Indian cigar store.


How times have changed!

I mentioned in a column a while back that a number of new residents have moved into our neighborhood. One of them is a very friendly guy.

When he sees me sitting on my front porch chewing on my cigar, he comes over to chat. That’s when I came to the conclusion that times have changed.

He told me he is paying $1,700 a month for the purchase of his place.

The first thought that came to my mind was “Wow!”

When I purchased my house about 60 years ago, my mortgage was set up with the Cal Vet organization.

My payment? $95 a month.

It took me 15 years to pay off my loan, but that came to only $15,000.

My new neighbor pays $20,000 for only a single year.

Whew! If I were to buy my house today, I sure couldn’t do what my new neighbor is doing. That is, unless I hit a jackpot in Vegas.

I’m sure that many of you have read about two Vegas visitors hitting a jackpot on a “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine during the past two weeks.

One collected over $3 million while the other hit for about $2 million.

Hey, I’m happy to win $500 on the quarter slot.

Oh well.


Since my wife and I will be celebrating our 60th wedding anniversary, I found the following article eye-catching. The title of the story is “50th Wedding Anniversary”:

A couple were celebrating 50 years together.

Their three kids, all very successful, agreed to an anniversary dinner in their honor.

“Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad,” gushed son No. l. “Sorry, I’m running late. I had an emergency at the hospital with a patient. You know how it is, and I didn’t have time to get you a gift.”

“Not to worry,” said the father. “The important thing is that we’re all together today.”

Son No. 2 arrived and announced, “You and Mom look great. Dad, I just flew in from Los Angeles between depositions and didn’t have time to shop for you.”

“It’s nothing,” said the father. “We’re glad you were able to come.”

Just then, the daughter arrived.

“Hello, everyone and happy anniversary,” she said. “I’m sorry, but my boss is sending me out of town and I was really busy packing, so I didn’t have time to get you anything.”

After they finished dinner, the father said, “There’s something your mother and I have wanted to tell you for a long time. You see, we were very poor. Despite this, we were able to send each of you to college. Throughout the years, your mother and I knew that we loved each other very much, but we just never found the time to get married.”

The three children gasped and said, “You mean we’re bastards?”

“Yep,” said the father. “And cheap ones, too.”

Are you all laughing?

(Maggie’s comment: Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Y. Sixty years of marriage. That’s wonderful!)


I was kind of surprised to see that the editorial staff of Rafu put Wimp Hiroto’s column on the front page. I don’t recall The Rafu ever placing a columnist on the front page, but I’m sure if they had to do it, Wimp’s column deserved to gain the honor.

He’s a veteran newspaper man and I’m sure he has a lot of readers who follow his Wednesday contribution to The Rafu.

He has his distinct style of writing, which is unique for a vernacular publication.

Take a bow, Wimp.


Oh, by the way.

I guess I’ve been yakking about why I haven’t been to Vegas for nearly five months.

It has to do with the lack of a driver since I guess I can’t handle the five-hour drive by myself and my wife can’t contribute to handling the wheel as she used to for the same reason. Too old.

I am surprised that since I wrote about it, at least a dozen Nisei friends told me the same thing.

One, who used to go Vegas more than I did, tells me he is stuck now, too.

“At least you can write about it and get volunteers who are willing to drive you,” said one friend who is just a year older than me.

Another said, “I’d like to think I can still do it, but let’s face it, I’m having a rough time just wheeling around L.A.”

I guess he’s in worse shape than me because I can still drive around L.A., including frequent visits to J-Town.

Oh well, we all get old, don’t we?


By the way, about taking three to four days away from home on Vegas trips, one reader asked, “You mentioned that you have three cats at your house. Who takes care of them while you are gone?”

We make sure they are indoors with plenty of food and water and they seem to be okay.

When we get home they want to jump on us and follow us around for days.

The first time we left them, it was natural for my wife and me to be kind of concerned, but after a few days, we found they were okay.

Of course, I don’t think we should leave them for more than three days.

Oh well, Meow.


Let’s wind up with something entitled “The Bottle of Wine.”

For all of you who are married, were married, wish you were married or wish you weren’t married, this is something to smile about the next time you see a bottle of wine:

Sally was driving home from one of her business trips in Northern Arizona when she saw an elderly Navajo woman walking on the side of the road.

As the trip was a long and quiet one, she stopped the car and asked the Navajo woman if she would like a ride.

With a silent nod of thanks, the woman got into the car.

Resuming the journey, Sally tried in vain to make a bit of small talk with the Navajo woman. The old woman just sat silently, looking intently at everything she saw, studying every little detail, until she noticed a brown bag on the seat next to Sally.

“What’s in the bag?” asked the old woman.

Sally looked down at the bag and said, “It’s a bottle of wine. I got it for my husband.”

The Navajo woman was silent for another moment or two. Then speaking with the quiet wisdom of an elder, she said, “Good trade.”

(Maggie’ comment: Yep, Mr. Y., the above laugher was one of the first ones I typed in your column about six or seven years ago, but it is still one of my favorites.)

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via email at horsesmouth2000@hotmail.com. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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