Got up a little earlier the other day because the weatherman predicted rain. Yeah, rain. Something we haven’t seen for more than several months. I wanted to see if the rain would make it possible for me not to water my lawn.

Well, the weatherman was wrong. There wasn’t a drop of rain falling. However, I smelled something familiar. What was it?

I turned on my TV to see what the weatherman was predicting, and what do you think I saw and heard on the tube?

The announcer said, “The strong wind in Southern California is blowing in from Wyoming.”

Wyoming? Wow! No wonder the area was smelling like Heart Mountain, the relocation camp in Wyoming where a lot of us were incarcerated during the early days of WWII.


In his recent speech on TV, President Obama said he was pushing to raise America’s per-hour wages to $10.10. That’s right, 10 dollars and 10 cents.

Kind of took me back in time when the first paying job off of our farm was 17 cents an hour.

So, when I got a job directing traffic at the Stanford University football games in Palo Alto on weekends and was paid 50 cents per hour, the only thought that popped into my mind was WOW!

Of course, Stanford only allowed four hours for the job, which meant I earned $2. In those days, $2 was a lot of money for a high school kid.

Most of the other jobs I had paid about 25 cents per hour, so if I worked eight hours, I collected about $2. In those days I guess it could be said that it was pretty good pay.

I could go to the movies in a theater for 25 cents and a hamburger would cost about 15 cents.

I would have had to work about 50 hours to earn what Obama proposes for now. Is my math correct?

Well, as I often say, “Time flies.”


I would guess that a lot of Nisei still travel to Japan to visit the country of their parents. Kind of curious where in Japan these Nisei like to visit. Most would probably say Tokyo. Okay, where in Tokyo?

According to the latest news, for most Americans (including Japanese Americans), the area is Shibuya.

This article caught my eye because when I was living and working in Japan, I lived in Shibuya and the office where I worked was also located there.

In those days, however, there were very few “gaijins” in the Shibuya district, so I guess you can say I was a novelty to the residents and business people in the area.

When they heard me talk, they all laughed and asked the same question in Japanese, “You’re a gaijin, aren’t you? Where are you from?”

I tried to be a comedian and gave my Issei parents’ prefecture.

Needless to say, they were even more confused. ”We didn’t know there was a Kumamoto outside of Japan,” they would tell me.

Well, that was life in Japan in the early ’60s.

Getting back to Shibuya. It was one of the more ritzy residential districts in Tokyo and the rent was about $600 per month. Of course, the company paid for it because I sure couldn’t afford something like that. I’m told the same two-bedroom apartment now costs about $1,500 a month.

If the area is catering to gaijins these days, I can believe that. Remember, the exchange rate in those days was 360 yen to a dollar.

Today, it’s about 98 yen to the buck.

Gaijins, go home.


Gee, the election for the new sheriff is almost a year away, but it seems like everyone is taking potshots at former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who announced that he’s going to run for the top job.

There was a long article on my email the other day in which the writer wrote some very negative things about Paul. This would seem to indicate that Paul might not be one of the favorites to take over the top post in the Sheriff’s Department.

I hope this doesn’t alter Paul’s plans to run.

As of this date, no one seems to be touching on the fact that Paul is a Japanese American and that if he wins the post, he will be the highest-ranking Japanese American to hold a top law enforcement office.

Let’s hope this doesn’t become a campaign message by those who might run against him in this year’s election.


A friend who attended the Los Angeles-Nagoya Sister Cities Affiliation gathering asked me why I didn’t attend, since she heard that I was invited by the committee that put on the event.

Yes, I was invited, but a day ahead of the Saturday event.

I know I’m not the busiest guy in town, but if people want me to attend something they are putting together, I need more than one day’s notice to respond.

Yeah, even as a “retired” journalist I still need at least five days to work something into my schedule if it is a news-gathering event.

Hey, at my age, I need more than a couple of days to prepare myself for any public appearance.

Oh well, just thought I’d toss this in if other people may wonder why I was absent from a community event.

I understand that others from The Rafu were invited, so the event probably will receive a follow-up article.

At any rate, I thank the committee for inviting me, even if it was a day before the event.


Speaking of invitations, I received another one from the Heart Mountain Foundation to be held at the Japanese American National Museum.

This invite arrived last week, and since it will be held on Feb. 22, I’ll be there.

Anything to do with the Wyoming camp is of great interest to me since I spent about six months there. While being tossed into camps during the war wasn’t a pleasant experience, my time spent in Heart Mountain is something that remains in my mind.

I met a lot of new friends during camp days, which is probably the reason I moved to Los Angeles after being discharged from the Army even though I was a resident of Northern California before evacuation.

If it weren’t for the evacuation, I’d probably be driving a tractor on my parents’ farm, so I certainly wouldn’t be a newspaper columnist for The Rafu.

Well, maybe I might have written a book with a title like “Life on a Farm for a Japanese American.”

I sure enjoy pounding away on a typewriter more than driving a tractor.

Yeah, I know. There are probably some folks in the reading audience who might be thinking, “Sure wish you were driving a tractor.”


To light up or not light up.

As many of you know, I always have a cigar stuck in my mouth, and I rarely light it up.

One reason is that when people see me with my cigar, most of them will say, “I hope you won’t light up that stinking thing.”

I’m curious. If I don’t light up, how do they know it’s “stinky”?

Those who don’t like cigar smoke may be in for hard times.

There is talk that they may do away with cigarettes for health reasons in the near future.

I sure can’t imagine the U.S. without any cigarette smokers. If that happens, they may still allow cigar smoking or chewing stogies. A lot of  cigarette smokers may switch to cigars.

Wow! Won’t that be something! I won’t be the only one with a cigar stuck in my mouth.

Of course, those who object to cigarettes may still get nasty if they see a person with a cigar in his or her mouth.

As I mention from time to time, when I walk up to a slot machine with a cigar stuck in my mouth, people will always tell me, “I hope you aren’t going to light that.” Yet, if there is someone smoking a cigarette, they don’t say anything.

Maybe I should just “pass some gas” and move on. Gas, in this case is call “heh” in Japanese. You know what I mean.

(Maggie’s comment: Mr. Y, Forgive me for saying this, but I just had to speak regarding cigars. Some people smoke cigarettes, others smoke cigars, and I say to each his own. However, even if a cigar is NOT lit, there is still such a PUNGENT odor. Some people ARE very allergic to cigars as I am and may vomit.)


Speaking of slot machines, yes, I’m heading to Vegas at the end of this month. I will stay my usual three days.

And oh, by the way, I mentioned that the popular Makino’s restaurant in the Premium Outlets mall near The Cal was shut down at the end of December. I tried to call Al Morita to confirm this information, but couldn’t get a hold of him. It was Al who introduced me to Makino’s.

I said I would have to look for another Japanese eatery if Makino’s did close.

I forgot that the original Makino’s, located on Decatur Boulevard, is still open, according to information I was able to uncover.

It’s a bit far from Downtown Vegas but if it is still open, I’ll have a place to go to get my Japanese dinner.

Those of you drive to Vegas won’t have any problems with the slightly distant Makino’s.


This is the Year of the Horse, so I guess I’d better get out to the race track more often.

Of course, with Hollywood Park closing, getting to the track means going to Santa Anita, which from Gardena is about 35 miles. In the old days, 35 miles was nothing but these days, it’s a bit far for me to drive.

Now, if any of my sons were horse-racing fans, I could get them to drive, but they don’t seem interested in racing.

I was planning on going this past Sunday because my favorite jockey, Corey Nakatani, had mounts on a few horses that looked like winners. He did win the featured race, but it was the favorite, so it didn’t pay too much for his victory.

Of course, I might have placed a larger bet than my usual “small pocket” wager,  but I guess I’m no longer that kind of racing fan.

At any rate, Corey is doing OK. He’s in the top five of winning jockeys and he doesn’t get as many mounts as many of the other jockeys who rank below him.

I’m not sure why he doesn’t get as many mounts. He’s still a terrific rider.

Oh well, maybe the next time I get out to Arcadia, I’ll toss the question at him if I get a chance to chat with him.


I ran a bit long today, so I guess I’ll have to push my laugher aside until next Tuesday.  That ought to make Maggie laugh.

(Maggie’s comment: Hey, Mr. Y! What about Saturday’s column? Heh, heh.)

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

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