When I was a full-time newspaperman in J-Town, I received a lot of invitations to events being held, usually banquets at swanky hotels.

Since I became a columnist for The Rafu, the invitation list dwindled to almost zero, so when I d receive one, I’m anxious to put on my tie and coat, jump in my car and head for the site of event.

Oh yes, in the old days, I got to meet most of the consuls general heading the local Japanese consulate. In recent times I haven’t met a single one.

That changed this past Monday when I was invited to a luncheon at what I used to call the New Otani Hotel in J-Town, and the guest of honor was the recently appointed consul general. His name is Jun Niimi, a rather young individual to hold the title.

He chatted in English with all the guests, including me, and as is customary with the Japanese, I exchanged “meishi” with him. That’s Japanese for “name card.”

I was kind of surprised when he told me he reads all of my columns. He’s the first consul general to make such a statement to me. As I said a bit earlier, I met a lot of them over the years.

There was one, about four decades ago, that I took to the local tracks because he was a horse racing fan. Of course, he told me, “Don’t ever mention that we went to the race track together.”

The luncheon I mentioned was put together by Bacon Sakatani.

After the luncheon was over, another incident kind of stirred me up.

I had parked in the hotel’s parking lot and when I went to drive out, the lady at the check-out window said, “That will be $20.

“Twenty dollars!” I screamed. “I’ve only been parked for two hours!

“Don’t matter,” she said. “It’s still $20.”

“Give me back my ticket. I’m going to see the manager of the hotel about this,” I told her.

When I said that, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “Okay, just give me 8 bucks.”

Eight bucks still seemed high to me, but I concluded I wanted to get out of there, so I handed her a  $5 bill with three ones and she raised the gate and I rolled out of the place.

Was this a rare incident or have any of you out in readerland been confronted with the same situation? I’d like to hear from you if you did.

One thing for sure. I’m not going to park at the hotel if I have to go there again in the future.

Man, what’s coming to J-Town?


Well, Editor Gwen tells me she’s off to Hawaii this week. Seems like she just got back a few months ago. I guess that’s the advantage of being the editor-in-chief of The Rafu.

I held a similar title when I was with The Kashu Mainichi. Not editor-in-chief but just plain editor. And the only place I could visit was San  Francisco. I drove in my old junk car and gas was about 27 cents a gallon.

When I got to the Bay Area, I stayed at my sister’s house — no rent and she cooked all my meals, if you can call a bowl of rice and natto a “meal.”

Since I was originally from that area of Northern California and had a lot of friends, most of the stuff we did didn’t cost any money.

Oh well, dream on.


I guess when most of the Nisei generation talk about getting old, we really don’t know what old is.

That’s the thought that struck me when I read about Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest woman, who celebrated her 116th birthday this past week. Her celebration consisted of a cake and candles in a Japanese nursing home where she lives.

Wearing a pink kimono with a red flower in her hair, she was presented with a bouquet by the town’s mayor.

Asked for a comment on her birthday celebration, she said, “It’s been quite a long time.”

She was given a cake with candles decorated with the number 116.

Those who know her said she is still in good shape and is even gaining weight.

Okawa last year received a certificate from Guinness World Records confirming her status as the oldest living woman in the world.

She was born on March 5, 1898 and married in 1919, having three children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

She eats sushi, her favorite, and whatever she likes — beef stew, spaghetti, sashimi — every day.

Japan, known for the longevity of its people, was home to the man ever to have lived,   Jiroemon Kimura, who died in June 2013 at the age of 116.

Around a quarter of Japan’s population of 126 million is age 65 or older.

The figure, already one of the highest proportions in the world, is expected to rise to around 40 percent over the coming decade — and we Nisei brag because we are in our late 80s and early 90s.

Okay, I’ll stop yakking about being 88. Hey, I’m a “teenager” compared to that Japanese lady, who is nearly 20 years older than I.

Omedeto, obaachan!


Here’s a short but interesting letter from a reader named Sam Miyamoto. Yeah, he didn’t say not to print his name.

He wrote: “Just for your information, you probably heard or know a Japanese newspaper in Japan (Fuji Sankei) is alleged to have taken a quote of your column on Mike Honda and comfort women.”

“Since I didn’t read the article, I discussed it on the phone — I do not think any names were mentioned as to whose comments — only that it was quoted from the Horse. If you’re interested in the article, I can have it sent to me for transmission to you.”

Thanks, Sam. I sure would like to see the article, especially to see if they called me “Uma no shiri.” No sense in translating that. Heh, heh.

Another short letter, this one from Tomi Iwata, who wrote: “Hi, Horse. I am interested in a copy of the family book offered by one of your readers. If still available, please have it sent to me at the enclosed address.”

Thanks, Tomi. Will see what I can do.


I don’t think too many Nisei or other Japanese Americans will be interested in this piece, but since it’s Las Vegas I thought I would toss it in.

The Strip, not for too many Nisei who prefer Downtown, is getting the world’s largest Ferris wheel, which will be called the High Roller. That’s a good name for anything to do with Vegas.

The project will be visible from all over the city, including the airport. It will begin functioning next year.

Vegas says it will be an icon and will be part of many people’s visits to Vegas, whether one rides on it or not. At 550 feet, it will be higher than the Singapore Flyer, now the largest in the world. The wheel will carry 3.5 million pounds of steel.

Workers have already assembled parts of the wheel over the course of two years in China and Japan.

Caesars Entertainment, which owns more casinos than any other gambling company, is building the ride as part of its $550 million outdoor plaza across the street from Caesars Palace.

It will most likely open this winter.

If I find a driver who will wheel me to Vegas, I will make it a point to see the new feature.

In the meanwhile, I’ll still be enjoying my breakfast with Vegas resident Rosie Kakuuchi.


Let’s see, it’s near 6 p.m. as I begin this page of my column and I hear my wife calling out to me, “It’s time to eat.”

Well, I guess 6 p.m. is closer to suppertime than I thought. As always, I yelled back, “What are we eating?’’

In her usual way, she yelled back, “Never mind, just get to the dining table.”

Well, we aren’t really living it up. I saw an opened can of tuna fish with a bowl of rice next to it. That’s supper? Heh, heh.

Of course, when she mentioned a can of tuna fish, I was reminded of an article I read about the popular food. I’m sure a lot of you do enjoy canned tuna, whether it’s with a bowl of rice or between two slices of bread, so I’ll pose a question to you readers.

Do you know where the canned tuna you might be enjoying comes from?

What would you say if I told you the top three canned tuna brands in the U.S. are foreign-owned? They are Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Starkist.

The headquarters for these brands are in San Diego and Pittsburgh; however, the fish are cleaned in Thailand, Colombia and American Samoa.

I’m not sure how accurate the above information is but that’s what I read in a U.S. media publication.

My natural reaction was “Ugh!” But I’ll do a little more research on the matter to see how accurate the info is.


I’ll leave you with these safety tips.

Cell phones: A lady has now changed her habit of how she lists names on her cell phone after her handbag was stolen. Her handbag contained her cell phone, credit card, wallet, etc.

Twenty minutes after the theft, she called her husband from a pay phone to tell him what had happened. The husband said, “I received your text asking about our PIN number and I replied a little while ago.” When they rushed down to the bank, the staff told them all the money was already withdrawn.

Using the stolen cell phone, the thief texted “Hubby” from the contact list and thus got hold of his PIN.

Moral of story: Do not disclose the relationship between you and the people on your contact list. Avoid using names like Home, Honey, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mom, etc.

And very importantly, when sensitive info is being asked for through texts, confirm by calling back. Also when you’re being texted by friends or family to meet them somewhere, be sure to call back to confirm that the message actually came from them. If you don’t reach them, be very careful about going to the place to meet “family members and friends” who texted you.

Purse in the grocery store cart: A lady went grocery shopping at a local mall and left her purse sitting in the children’s seat of the cart while she reached for something on the shelf. Her wallet was stolen and she reported it to the store personnel.

After returning home, she received a phone call from mall security to say that they had her wallet and although there was no money in it, it did still hold her personal papers. She immediately went to pick up her wallet, only to be told by mall security that they had not called her.

By the time she returned home again, her house had been broken into and burglarized. The thieves knew that by calling and saying they were mall security, they could lure her out of her house long enough for them to burglarize it.

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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