(Published Aug. 19, 2014)

A friend called me the other day and asked if I was planning to attend the Heart Mountain reunion slated for next month. I’m not sure why but I assumed the reunion was set for Las Vegas with Bacon Sakatani putting it together. I said I wasn’t sure but would make an effort to attend.

Then I got a note from Bacon telling me that the reunion is not being held in Vegas but at the Montebello Country Club. Needless to say, there’s a lot of difference in attending something in Vegas vs. one held in Montebello.

I told Bacon I’m sure I’ll be on hand for the Montebello event.

There aren’t too many of us who were interned in the Wyoming camp who are still around, so I’ll make a special effort to be on hand to relive our days in Heart Mountain.


Most of you who follow my chat know that a few years ago I climbed Mt. Fuji with a group of fellow Nisei from the L.A. area. So every now and then I get letters from other folks who climbed the famed mountain in Japan to tell me of their experience. Here’s such a letter from Sets Asano, who wrote:

“Hi George. My 90-year-old friend and I recently attempted to climb Mt. Fuji. Thought some of your readers would be interested in our experience.

“Mt. Fuji is two hours from Tokyo and is usually cloudy and overcast; therefore it is very difficult to see even the silhouette.

“The weather condition varies from hour to hour. And, the higher you go, the colder it gets. One has to dress accordingly because of this.

“The Fifth Station is open only in July and August. Bus rides take climbers to the Fifth Station and climbers are on their own after that.

“The mass of humanity making the climb consists mainly of students and runners. To get a stamp on your walking stick, one must climb to the Seventh Station.

“The trail (if you can call it that) is rocky and is not really a walking trail. And, there are no park rangers or first-aid stations.

“The thousands of tourists are all very friendly and courteous. We counted 50 buses carrying the tourists.

“Good walking shoes is a must. Backpacks are always nice to be hands free.

“Good luck to all who may venture to Mt. Fuji.”

Thanks to Sets for her letter.

As I said, I climbed Fuji a number of years ago (when I was in my 70s), so I can appreciate the information she sent to me.

I’m sure there are a lot of you out there in readerland who might attempt the climb up Fuji-san the next time you’re in Japan.

Good luck.


My wife always reminds me on Sundays, “Don’t forget, you have to write your column today.”

It kind of wrecks my day, but I’m glad she does remind me because on Sundays I’m always looking for something to do and writing my column is one of the items on my list, so I warm up my computer and here I am.

As I often state, the actual typing of my column isn’t the major task. It’s the material I need to complete my chatter.


I ran into a friend this morning while I was out in Gardena doing some shopping.

He greeted me with the usual “Hi, Horse.” Then he said, “Hey, Horse, I was looking for you in J-Town during Nisei Week. I know that you usually have your favorite spot to view the parade in Little Tokyo, so I walked around the area hoping to bump into you. What happened? I didn’t see you.”

I told him I missed the festival this year. Probably the first time that’s happened.

Over the many years I would say I’ve probably missed four Nisei Weeks, mainly because I had moved to Japan in 1962 and lived there until 1966.

It made me wonder how many old-time Nisei Week visitors have missed the annual festival.

I know that in the coverage of the festival in The Rafu, there is always a line in the story that might read, “A huge crowd was on hand.”

I didn’t see such a statement for this year’s coverage of the Japanese American community’s biggest event.

As I frequently comment, it made me wonder about the future of the festival.

I guess if the younger generations (Yonsei, Gosei, etc.) continue to put the festival together, its future isn’t in doubt.


World War II is now history and this past week (Aug. 15) was the date for the end of the war.

Needless to say, there are many reminders of the war in which the USA was involved after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

One of the reminders is the Yasukuni Shrine located in Tokyo.

U.S. military leaders in Japan are advised against visits by their troops out of consideration to South Korea and China, American military sources said this past week.

U.S. Forces Japan headquarters warned against a visit to the controversial shrine by more than 20 troops, leading to the trip’s cancellation.

Beijing and Seoul consider it a symbol of Japan’s militarism and wartime aggression.

U.S. servicemen who had previously visited the shrine declined to do so again after the warning, a source said.

As one who served in Japan following the end of the war as a member of the Occupation Forces, I never gave the foregoing any attention.

I had always felt war is war and the end of the conflict was the end of the conflict.

Since I was the only Nisei in the occupation unit in the area where I was assigned, I can’t offer any details on how other Japanese American GIs felt about their role in the occupation.

I would assume they had the same attitude as I carried, and to bring up the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine makes me wonder about all of it.


Those of you who have visited Japan know that it’s okay to smoke in most restaurants there.

However, the governor of Tokyo, Yoichi Masuzoe, suggested this week that the government will consider putting a smoking ban in all restaurants before the country hosts the 2020 Olympics.

“Japan is the only advanced nation where smoking is permitted at restaurants and we’d like to pass an ordinance for a smoking ban with the cooperation of the Metropolitan Assembly,” the governor said.

The governor’s remark followed Friday’s announcement by McDonald’s Japan that it had banned smoking at all of its 3,135 outlets in the country. Ninety percent of McDonald’s restaurants in Japan were non-smoking.

Masuzoe told reporters he wants to impose a smoking ban in all public facilities and restaurants in Tokyo, adding that the metropolitan government will discuss how it can be enforced.

Japan has been a haven for smokers but has been making steady progress since the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry banned smoking in public facilities.

When I lived in Japan I used to chew on cigars. I never lit up the stogies, but when I walked into an eating place with a cigar in my mouth, all the employees would jump on me.

“No smoke, no smoke,” they would all chant.

When I told them I don’t light up, it confused them.

Most of them would say, “Then why do you have cigar in your mouth?” (in Japanese, of course).

When I would explain, I would hear comments like “Aho.”

I don’t think a smoking ban will succeed in Japan when nearly 80 percent of the population smokes. I can’t see how they can enforce such a law.


Yes, I frequently mention the disappearing of Japanese dining places in Gardena.

Well, maybe it’s just my imagination that we can’t find any “Nihon-shoku” places.

For one thing, when I chat about Japanese dining places, there are certain dishes I have in mind.

One of them is ten-don. You know, rice with shrimp tempura on top.

This is one of my favorites, and many of the places that serve Japanese dishes don’t carry ten-don.

Oh well.


A friend called me the other day to ask for some information he was seeking.

After we finished our conversation he asked, “By the way, are you still having problems with your neighbor’s barking dog?”

I’m glad he asked.

“Yeah,” I told him.

Of course, he then asked, “Why don’t you talk to your neighbor?”

I told him I wanted to but my wife said she doesn’t want to create a problem by doing so. “Let someone else complain to them,” she tells me.

Yeah, I guess if you have to live next door to somebody, keeping the peace is probably important.

So, bow wow.


Keep this name in mind — Ranan Mamiya.

So, who is he?

Well, Mamiya is a young Sansei running back for Farrington High School in Honolulu and experts are calling him a “sure thing” when he moves on to college football.

So, if he doesn’t sign up with the University of Hawaii and decides to enter a Mainland college, we may be hearing and reading about him.

He’s considered one of the top running backs in Hawaii prep football.

Hey, maybe he can sign with UCLA or SC?

Can’t we see the headlines? “Mamiya Leads Bruins to Win Over Trojans.”

At any rate, Farrington High is described as “unbeatable” with the Sansei carrying the ball.

Of course, he may decide to stay home and sign with the University of Hawaii.

Speaking of prep football, why is it we don’t hear about high schools in Southern California being led by a JA running back?

Remember when we could follow the prep careers of JA gridders in The Rafu and Kashu Mainichi?

Oh well, maybe this coming season.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.


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