Ishikawa means "Rocky River" in Japanese. I learned this the other day from my friend Yasumasa (Tra) Ishikawa in Tokyo, who calls himself "Tiger" in English.
We have covered Baseball Classics and World Cups and Summer Games in Beijing together. He is aware that an American named Travis Ishikawa is diligently playing left field in the World Series for the San Francisco Giants, whose colors and history are linked to the Tokyo Giants.
Travis Ishikawa is an itinerant first baseman who has bounced around from club to club, from majors to minors, but will forever be honored by Giants fans for hitting the three-run homer that won the pennant against St. Louis.
I did not know anything about him until the post-homer interview, when he thanked God, in an American accent, straight from the Seattle-Tacoma area.
"As family names it’s one of very popular names," my friend Tra-san wrote me from Tokyo, saying how his namesake's great-great grandfather has emigrated to Hawaii and on to the American mainland.
"There were many emigrants from Okinawa to Hawaii to get a job in banana or pineapple plantations before World War II. These first Japanese emigrant generation worked hard and they eager to let their children to get better educations," Tra-san wrote.
I also did not know that Ishikawa is one of the familiar names in Japan, with one branch stemming from a major samurai family. I also did not know there is a Ishikawa Prefecture, or region.
Ishikawa Goemon was known as a robber in the 16th Century, who was ultimately killed in boiling water. His character is a staple of Kabuki theater. There was also a famous poet named Ishikawa Jozan.
Tra Ishikawa and Travis Ishikawa have had their personal rocky rivers. Tra-san is using his English ability to drive foreign visitors around Tokyo. Not long ago, Ken Belson, my Times friend, who used to work in Japan, got into a cab and the driver said, in English, "I met you in Sapporo in 2002." That was for the England-Argentina match. I was there.
Travis Ishikawa played more games in Fresno in the minor leagues than in the major leagues this season. He almost quit. Now he chases fly balls, in an unfamiliar position, in the quaint little event we like to call the World Series.
Both men bring honor to a grand Japanese name.
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)