Saturday, November 30, 2013

Winter holidays in the Pitt Nationality Rooms.

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Kodamatsu in the Japanese Nationality Room, 2012.

From November 17, the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh have been decorated for the winter holidays, and this year's Open House is December 8.
Rooms will be in Winter / Holiday Decor and Quo Vadis guides will be dressed in ethnic dress, stationed in each room, describing the rooms' appearances and customs.

Nationality Rooms Committees will be in the Commons Room offering food and drink for sale. The proceeds of sales go to Committee Scholarship Funds for Nationality Rooms Summer Study Abroad.
The various European rooms usually have the most impressive Christmas displays, while the two East Asian ones reflect their New Years celebrations. As of this writing, the Chinese Room is festooned in celebration of the coming Year of the Horse, while the Japanese Nationality Room has not yet been decorated.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Living with the Enemy author in the news.

Local state representative Richard Saccone is in the news for wanting "In God We Trust" to be displayed in Pennsylvania's public schools. Before this and other conservative headlines, though, the Pittsburgh native worked in North Korea with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization and wrote a wonderful little book worth reading on his year there, Living with the Enemy: Inside North Korea. The title is facetious, and it's a book on the country that, uncommonly for the genre, provides insight without being judgmental or condescending. "My intention is for the reader", he writes on page 8,
to come away with a better understanding of the people of North Korea. My experience confirmed the most effective way to deal with North Koreans is to suspend our preconceived judgment for a moment and attempt to think as they do, to understand their perspective more clearly.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania has a part-time opening.

The Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania, headquartered in downtown Pittsburgh, is hiring a part-time Office Manager and Program Coordinator.
The candidate must have strong organizational and administrative skills and experience. This person must also have a keen interest in and understanding of current Japanese popular culture including anime, J-pop and the like. Ability to read and speak Japanese and experience traveling or living in Japan is a plus for the position.
A fuller description available on the JASP website.

Anime Oribe, by Jeff Guerrero Ceramics.

A recent set by Jeff Guerrero Ceramics.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Conflict Kitchen's North Korean menu starts Friday.

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The long-awaited (at least here) North Korean menu will begin at Conflict Kitchen on Friday, November 22. Conflict Kitchen, "a restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict", is located in Schenley Plaza in Oakland (map). The signage that went up alongside its Cuban advertisements promotes tofu stuffed with rice (두부밥), cinnamon tea (수정과), fermented soybean paste stew (된장찌개), and a buckwheat noodle soup (메밀국수).

Update, 11/21/2013:

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The menu is now posted, too, and includes bibimbap, naengmyeon, and tteokbokki, and songpyeon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Asian films in previous 3RFFs.

Old newspapers tell us a little about some Asian films part of previous versions of the Three Rivers Film Festival. Film lineups weren't published very often, and Asian movies---then as now---made up small fractions of the festivals as a whole, but there are some inspired choices, including: the first Studio Ghibli film, a 1992 Japanese porn-slash-drama, a Korean film that spawned "stories of viewers vomiting or passing out during the more gruesome scenes".

Pittsburgh LaputaTokyo DecadencePittsburgh Please Take Care of My CatPittsburgh movie The IslePittsburgh Lan YuDevils on the doorstepCave of the Yellow Dog PittsburghInvisible WavesPittsburgh thirst
Laputa: Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ) was part of the 1989 festival; Tokyo Decadence (トパーズ) a couple years later; Take Care of My Cat (고양이를 부탁해), The Isle (섬), Lan Yu (藍宇), and Devils on the Doorstep (鬼子来了) played at the 2002 festival; The Cave of the Yellow Dog (Шар нохойн там) and Invisible Waves (คำพิพากษาของมหาสมุทร) in 2006; and Thirst (박쥐) in 2009.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hollywood Theater adds two more shows for third Madoka Magica movie's Pittsburgh premiere.



The Hollywood Theater in Dormont (map) has added a couple more chances to see the third Magica Madoka movie, Rebellion, make its Pittsburgh premiere. From the theater's Facebook page:
Response has been really strong for our December Madoka Magica Rebellion shows, so we're adding two additional shows for that Saturday, Dec. 7th.
Tickets for the 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm shows on the 7th are available online.

As we wrote last month, the third movie in the three-part Madoka Magica series will premiere in Japan on October 26. U.S. showtimes for Rebellion (叛逆の物語) were announced yesterday, and Pittsburgh is one of several cities to have December 6 screenings, the second-earliest date in the country behind the December 3 premiere. Rebellion will debut in the area at the Hollywood Theater on the 6th, with initial screenings at 7:00 pm and 10:00 pm.

The Hollywood Theater also held the regional debuts of parts one and two in December 2012, and will show both again on December 5 at 7:30 pm, according to the movies' U.S. distributor's website.

Steven White presentation "China as a 'Innovation Nation'?" at Pitt, November 25.

The University of Pittsburgh will host a presentation by Steven White of Tsinghua University titled "China as a 'Innovation Nation'?" on November 25. The University Center for International Studies provides a summary:
China already vies with the USA for Olympic gold. Will it similarly catch up in the innovation race? Chinese firms have come to dominate many manufacturing industries in the global marketplace. The Chinese leadership and some executives, however, have recognized the critical need for Chinese firms to be more innovative in order to break out of the low value-added segments that they occupy in most of these industries. The recent emphasis on “innovation” and “creative industries” is actually part of a long-term, continued effort to catch-up with leading nations. This presentation traces this effort and accomplishments, and then reviews the significant challenges for Chinese firms to move beyond their current fundamental strategy combining imitation and cost-innovation.
It will be held from 3:00 to 5:00 pm in 117 Mervis Hall (campus map).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Free Japanese classes at East Liberty Carnegie Library, through December.

Very late notice, but the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has been holding free Japanese classes each Wednesday evening from October 2 through December 18. From the library website:
A fun way to learn a new language! Learn conversational Japanese in a casual setting. All ages and abilities welcome.
Library language classes are pretty informal, so students who have missed a month a session won't be hopelessly behind. The library is located on 130 S. Whitfield Street (map). Students must register, and those interested can do so online or by calling 412-363-8232.

A reminder that the Oakland branch holds Japanese for Beginners, Japanese II, and a Japanese Conversation Club on biweekly schedules each month. Each class is suited for a different level, so check the course descriptions for more information.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Discussion with artist Yasumasa Morimura at Warhol Museum, November 23.

On November 23, The Andy Warhol Museum (map) will host a discussion with artist Yasumasa Morimura, whose exhibition "Yasumasa Morimura: Theater of the Self" is running there from October 6, 2013 through January 12, 2014.
Join us for a lively discussion around the work of Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura, with The Warhol’s Director, Eric Shiner, Milton Fine Curator of Art, Nicholas Chambers, Assistant Archivist (and Adjunct Professor of Chinese and Japanese visual culture at the University of Pittsburgh) Cindy Lisica, and Charles Exley, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature and Film at the University of Pittsburgh.
It begins at 4:00 pm and is free with museum admission.

Morimura gave a talk at Carnegie Mellon University before his Warhol exhibition opened, and its School of Art summarized his work thus:
YASUMASA MORIMURA’s fascination with the self-portrait, gay and transgendered life, art history and popular culture aligns him closely with the work of Andy Warhol. Renowned for his reprisals of iconic images drawn from art history and the mass media, Morimura literally assumes his own place in the historical narrative. In the process, he conflates issues of originality and reproduction, gender and race to create what he calls a “beautiful commotion.” Like Warhol and many artists today, Morimura explores the fluidity of sexuality and gender, and the meaning of difference in highly structured societies.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pittsburgh mayor-elect adds Debra Lam to Executive Team.

On November 7, Pittsburgh mayor-elect Bill Peduto announced his cabinet, "most talented and diverse Mayoral cabinet in Pittsburgh’s history, and perhaps the entire country". Among its members is Debra Lam, a Pittsburgh native who has previously lived and worked in Hong Kong. From a profile on the new Chief Innovation & Performance officer:
A native of Pittsburgh, Debra is returning to her hometown with her husband John after living and working in New York, the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

She is a graduate of North Hills Senior High School, graduated cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and earned a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
. . .
While Debra has lived and worked across the globe, and speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, she is excited to return and help transform Pittsburgh into an innovative, world class city.

Singaporean film Ilo Ilo (爸妈不在家) at Waterworks Cinemas, November 10 and 13.

Ilo Ilo

The Singaporean film Ilo Ilo (爸妈不在家) will play at the Waterworks Cinemas (map) on November 10 and 13, part of the 2013 Three Rivers Film Festival. The festival's website summarizes:
Set in Singapore during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, this delightful film chronicles the day-to-day drama of the Lim family – troublesome grade-schooler and his overstressed parents. Comfortably middle-class and with another baby on the way, they hire Teresa, a Filipino immigrant, as a live-in maid and nanny. An outsider in both the family and Singapore itself, Teresa struggles to manage the boy's antics and find her footing in her new community. The two eventually form a unique bond, but just as Teresa becomes an unspoken part of the family, unforeseen circumstances arise.
The movie, one of four Asian films in the festival, plays on Sunday the 10th at 2:00 pm and on Wednesday the 13th at 4:45. Tickets are available online.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies at Three Rivers Film Festival starting November 9.

Totoro posterGrave of the Fireflies

Two classic Japanese animated films, My Neighbor Totoro (となりのトトロ) and Grave of the Fireflies (火垂るの墓), are among the four Asian movies at the 2013 Three Rivers Film Festival. The two will not be shown back to back, though, as they originally were and as they often are today.

My Neighbor Totoro will first run at the Waterworks Cinema (map) on Saturday, November 9, at 2:00 pm. Roger Ebert wrote a lengthy review describing the plot and the themes, a review that concludes thus:
I'm afraid that in praising the virtues of ''My Neighbor Totoro'' I have made it sound merely good for you, but it would never have won its worldwide audience just because of its warm heart. It is also rich with human comedy in the way it observes the two remarkably convincing, lifelike little girls (I speak of their personalities, not their appearance). It is awe-inspiring in the scenes involving the totoro, and enchanting in the scenes with the Cat Bus. It is a little sad, a little scary, a little surprising and a little informative, just like life itself. It depends on a situation instead of a plot, and suggests that the wonder of life and the resources of imagination supply all the adventure you need.
It will play a second time at the Regent Square Theater (map) on Sunday, November 10, at 2:30. Tickets for both are available online.

Grave of the Fireflies is, according to the film festival site and many other authorities, "profoundly beautiful anti-war film is praised by critics around the world as a masterpiece." To defer again to Roger Ebert for a summary:
“Grave of the Fireflies” (1988) is an animated film telling the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. Seita is a young teenager, and his sister Setsuko is about 5. Their father is serving in the Japanese navy, and their mother is a bomb victim; Seita kneels beside her body, covered with burns, in an emergency hospital. Their home, neighbors, schools are all gone. For a time an aunt takes them in, but she’s cruel about the need to feed them, and eventually Seita finds a hillside cave where they can live. He does what he can to find food, and to answer Setsuko’s questions about their parents. The first shot of the film shows Seita dead in a subway station, and so we can guess Setsuko’s fate; we are accompanied through flashbacks by the boy’s spirit.

“Grave of the Fireflies” is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation.
Grave of the Fireflies plays twice at the Regent Square Theater (map): November 9 at 2:30, and November 12 at 8:00. Tickets are available online.

Pitt Korean Culture Association Pojangmacha, November 8.


Via this excellent Korean-language travel and photo blog.

The University of Pittsburgh's Korean Culture Association will hold its annual pojangmacha on November 8th from 10:00 pm to 1:30 am in the William Pitt Union, room 548.
Spend time with your favorite people to wind down and have a late night meal. Celebrate the Korean culture by playing games and eating FREE Korean food!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yoonsun Choi lecture “Race and Culture in the Family: Their Impact on Youth Outcomes of Asian American Adolescents", November 8 at Pitt.

A University of Pittsburgh press release promotes an upcoming free lecture on November 8th by the University of Chicago's Yoonsun Choi, part of a series from the Center on Race and Social Problems. Two excerpts:
Yoonsun Choi, associate professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago, will deliver a free public lecture at noon Nov. 8 titled “Race and Culture in the Family: Their Impact on Youth Outcomes of Asian American Adolescents.” The talk will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems, School of Social Work Conference Center, 20th floor, Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland.
. . .
Choi has examined how race, ethnicity, and culture fundamentally shape the development of minority and immigrant youth, a growing population in the United States. According to Choi, how preteens and teens manage family issues, peer pressure, and stereotyping will often determine their mental health and academic outcomes. Choi’s studies have shown that multiracial youths—compared to single race minority youths—can have greater difficulty navigating the challenges related to race and identity. They may also face more alienation. If they feel marginalized at an early age, Choi says, it may lead to cigarette smoking, drug and alcohol use, and violence.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Touch of Sin (天注定) at Waterworks Cinemas, November 9 and 12.

a touch of sin

The Chinese movie A Touch of Sin (天注定) will play at the Waterworks Cinemas on November 9 and 12, part of Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Film Festival. An excerpt from an October 2013 Los Angeles Times review:
"A Touch of Sin," the powerful if uneven new film by highly regarded Chinese director Jia Zhangke, is a corrosive depiction of the New China, an everything-for-sale society still figuring out how to cope with the dehumanizing effects of unbridled capitalism.

Jia, whose 2006 "Still Life" won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, has dealt with the problems of Chinese society in the past, but in a more allusive, elliptical way. Now his concern about the nakedness of the corruption and an increasing trend of individuals resorting to violence out of desperation has led him to modify his style in ways that are both awkward and effective.

Written by the director (who received the best screenplay award at Cannes), "A Touch of Sin" is an omnibus film of four separate but subtly linked stories that take place in different corners of the country and are based on real events that Jia, in a director's note, says "are well-known to people throughout China."
A Touch of Sin plays at 6:15 on Saturday the 9th and at 6:30 on Tuesday the 12th at the multiplex in the Waterworks Mall (map). It is one of four Asian films in the 2013 festival.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council issues proclamation on Saitama sister city relationship.


"15 yr Sister City dedication w/ Saitama Mayor Shizmu & Chairman Hagiwara in Pittsburgh Council Chambers" - @billpeduto

A delegation from Saitama, Japan, toured sister city Pittsburgh from October 28 through November 1. The visit received little attention, though an affirmation of the sister city relationship came by way of a Pittsburgh City Council proclamation on the 29th:
The City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA and Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, hereby jointly reaffirm on the 15th year anniversary that the two cities enter into the sister city relationship in order to achieve the following common objectives:

• Promote friendship between the citizens of their respective cities,

• Foster mutual understanding and trust through cultural, social, educational, economic and sports activities,

• Follow the guidelines of Sister Cities International,

• Cooperate together in an ever-lasting effort to deepen friendship and goodwill, and

• Encourage the mutual growth and spirit of the continued Renaissance for both cities through the exchange of information and the promotion of trade and business development in the future.

The City of Pittsburgh and Saitama City hereby pledge to exercise their collective best efforts to achieve the above-mentioned common goals in order to deepen the friendship between the cities’ respective citizens and governments.
This agreement is hereby signed by the representatives of both cities, whose signatures appear below, in order to confirm the above accord.

The 29th day of October, 2013

In the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA