Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"It's cleaner than San Francisco." When Park Chung-hee got the key to the city.


Visiting J&L Steel; photo by 이현표 but found via this article.

In May 1965, South Korean president Park Chung-hee (father of current South Korean president Park Geun-hye) visited Pittsburgh as part of a tour of the US that included stops in Washington D.C., New York, West Point, Los Angeles, and Cape Kennedy. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote, on May 22, 1965, two articles on the occasion: one, a summary of the visit and the pleasantries exchanged between Park and Pittsburghers; another, a profile on the Korean First Lady. From the former:
The president of South Korea, Gen. Chung Hee Park, got the official view of Pittsburgh yesterday---a few minutes at the Mt. Washington overlook, and a half-hour motorcade through Oakland.

"I didn't expect to see so much green," he told Mayor Joseph M. Barr during the ride, "it's cleaner than San Francisco."
And from the latter:
On the approach to the Golden Triangle, Korea's First Lady went into a happy peal of laughter, letting out a quick spate of Korean. (She's so pleased with herself that she could talk so much about the rivers and the bridges in English, her secretary-interpreter Mrs. Margaret Cho explained.

For her arrival in Pittsburgh, Madame Park wore an entrancing lavendor silk Chogory Chima, with panels from teh shoulders, floating in the wind as she walked . . . showing the white silk lining. (The chogory stands for "short jacket," the chima for "down to the floor.").

She was greeted in her native language by a bevy of beautiful young Korean women and some Korean men.


Sarku Japan, katakana, South Hills Village.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Nakama voted best Japanese restaurant again by Pittsburgh Magazine readers.

Pittsburgh Magazine announced the winners of Best Restaurants 2014 readers' poll today, and Nakama was voted the best in the Japanese / Sushi category. The Southside's Little Tokyo Bistro and Shadyside's Umi finished second and third, respectively. Umi was also included on the list of best restaurants, as decided by the magazine's editors. Nakama was also voted the best Japanese restaurant by readers of the Pittsburgh City-Paper in 2013 (and in 2008, 2009, and 2011).

These three are in highly visible locations, and Nakama routinely places first in these sorts of polls (most recently in 2012 and 2013). Restaurants most liked by local Japanese and by fans of authentic Japanese cuisine---restaurants like Chaya, Kiku, and Kyoto Teppanyaki---rarely earn spots on readers' "best of" polls.

Sesame Inn was voted first in the Best Chinese category and Everyday Noodles, which opened in February 2013 in Squirrel Hill, was also named to the magazine's Best Restaurants 2014 list. Nicky's Thai Kitchen was voted Best Thai place, and made the editors' list as well.

University of Pittsburgh alumnus named director of Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute.



Inwoo Han (한인우) was named director of the Korea Astronomy & Space Science Institute on Thursday, May 22. Han, a graduate of Seoul National University, earned his Ph.D. in Physics from Pitt in 1989, and titled his dissertation "The Study of the Multichannel Astrometric Photometer". He will assume the position from the 24th and hold it for three years, writes Asia Gyeongje.

More sweets at Sumi's.



Recent sign outside Sumi's Cakery, a Korean bakery in Squirrel Hill (map), advertising two new ice cream flavors. Stay tuned for patbingsu, too. Sumi's Cakery was recently named the Best Bakery by Carnegie Mellon University's C-Book, and it announced last week that it will soon offer Bubble Tea.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Where Asians live in Allegheny County.



Over the weekend the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette posted a map online, "Where Immigrants Live in the City", that shows approximately where immigrants have settled locally. The highest concentration of dark-orange dots---representing East Asians---is, predictably, in Oakland, Shadyside, and East Liberty. The P-G map also shows a high concentration in Blawnox, though the area is closer to Fox Chapel in real life. The source is the American Community Survey 2012, compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

An article, "Pittsburgh's economy has gained from high-skilled immigrants", accompanied the map, and looked at Pittsburgh's "new immigrants" in general and at one bicultural Asian family in particular. It covered local Asian population trends, too:
Despite our somewhat one-sided immigration, the statistics show some interesting trends.

In 1980, Asians made up about 10 percent of the Pittsburgh region's foreign-born population. By 2010, they constituted 45 percent of them.

In Allegheny County, the two biggest Asian groups, as in many other parts of the U.S., are the Indians and the Chinese. As of 2010, the county had nearly 5,600 Chinese residents, which was 14 times greater than in 1980.
That's up from 270 Chinese in 1900.

In 2012, the New York Times mapped the 2010 census, and showed a similar distribution. Census Tract 4, in North Oakland around the intersection of North Craig St. and Fifth Ave., had a population comprised of 31% Asian. Asians were the second-largest group in most of Oakland, Squirrel Hill North, and Shadyside.

Return of the Street Fighter (殺人拳2) at Hollywood Theater, May 28.



The 1974 Japanese martial arts film Return of the Street Fighter (殺人拳2) will play at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont on May 28. A review on Love HK Film calls it an
[a]musing follow-up to the previous year's Street Fighter. Thin on plot, but long on sick comic action, Return of the Street Fighter is a definite guilty pleasure.
Of the first film in the trilogy, Wikipedia tells us it was "the first film to receive an X-rating in the United States solely for violence"

The movie starts at 7:30 pm and tickets are $5. The theater is located at 1449 Potomac Ave., one block south of Potomac Station.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Squirrel Hill's Cool Ice Taipei closes, to be replaced by Thai restaurant.



Old news from last week, but Squirrel Hill's Cool Ice Taipei has recently closed at 5813 Forbes Ave., and will be replaced by Sukhothai Bistro, a Thai restaurant. It may be a familiar name to Pittsburghers: there used to be one in Oakland on Semple St., and ages ago there was a Sukhothai downtown.

Sukhothai Bistro will join Bangkok Balcony, Silk Elephant, Sun Penang, and Curry on Murray as the neighborhood's fifth Thai restaurant.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Free Japanese class at Carnegie Library East Liberty begins May 21.

The Carnegie Library branch in East Liberty periodically offers free Japanese classes, and the latest session will begin on May 21.
Learn Japanese in a fun and friendly environment. All ages and levels are welcome.
The class runs from 6:30 to 7:30 pm, and the library is located at 130 S. Whitfield Street, about four blocks northwest of Whole Foods.

The Oakland branch still offers several free Japanese classes: Japanese For Beginners on the second and fourth Mondays of each month (next is June 9); Japanese II for high-beginners and intermediate learners on the second and fourth Tuesdays; and a Japanese conversation club for intermediate and advanced learners, also on the second and fourth Tuesday. Visit the library's event page and search "Japanese" (or Korean, or Chinese) for more information.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pittsburgh Bonsai Society 33rd annual Bonsai Show, June 7 and 8.



The 33rd annual Bonsai Show will be held at Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside (map) on June 7 and 8. It's presented by the Pittsburgh Bonsai Society and is free and open to the public from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday the 7th, and from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on the 8th.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pink Box, an "Asian-European fusion bakery", coming to Squirrel Hill.



Signage went up today for "Pink Box," what the owners call an Asian-European fusion bakery at 2104 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill (map). Situated next to Crazy Mocha in the old Chaya location that's been empty for years, it's across the street from a Korean bakery (Sumi's Cakery), up the hill from a Taiwanese bakery (Bubble Pi), and down the street from two others.


The facade on Tuesday (left), and the facade on Thursday with the new signage.

Demonstration for Sewol victims, May 18 at Schenley Plaza.



A demonstration is scheduled for May 18 at 2:00 pm in Schenley Plaza for the victims of the Sewol ferry tragedy. Pittsburgh's event coincides with simultaneous nationwide demonstrations here in all 50 states. Attendees are asked to wear black and bring white chrysanthemums.

The Sewol was a ferry boat that sunk off the coast of South Korea on April 16 while carrying passengers and cargo between Incheon and Jeju. The majority of the passengers were students from Danwol High School on a school trip; of the 281 deceased, 250 were from Danwol High School. Since then, protests against perceived government incompetence and obfuscation have erupted in Korea and among Korean expatriate communities abroad.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Asian-European fusion bakery coming to Squirrel Hill.



Work started recently on what the owners call an Asian-European fusion bakery at 2104 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill (map). Situated next to Crazy Mocha in the old Chaya location, it's across the street from a Korean bakery (Sumi's Cakery), up the hill from a Taiwanese bakery (Bubble Pi), and down the street from two others.

Update: It has a name.

Chinese, Filipino performances at Pittsburgh International Children's Festival, May 14 - 18.

The Pittsburgh International Children's Festival starts tomorrow and runs through the 18th. It's moved this year from Oakland to the Cultural District downtown. Events of relevance to this blog include: the Organization of Chinese Americans Youth Ensemble and Phillipine Folk Dances, both on the 18th at Lilypad Park (.pdf map) on the corner of 8th St. and Penn Ave.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) at Maridon Museum, May 23.



Butler's Maridon Museum will present the 2001 Japanese animated film Spirited Away on Friday, March 23. A brief summary of the Hayao Miyazaki / Studio Ghibli film from a 2002 A.V. Club review:
Spirited Away centers on Chihiro, a sullen, fearful Japanese girl whose parents are moving so far out into the country that they predict they'll have to drive to the next town just to shop. While traveling to their new home, they discover an abandoned, disintegrating theme park, which they cheerfully explore in spite of Chihiro's shrill protests. Suddenly, a boy approaches her and commands her to leave before nightfall. But before she can gather her wayward parents and escape, night does fall, in a breathtakingly eerie sequence that almost subsumes Chihiro's danger with its technical achievement. Chihiro is trapped in the spirit world, and in order to save herself, her parents, and eventually her new friend, she has to come to terms with herself and her unwitting captors. Gradually, in a series of almost episodic adventures, she learns to be brave and face up to her responsibilities to herself and the people she loves.
Wikipedia sums up its reception:
When released, Spirited Away became the most successful film in Japanese history, grossing over $274 million worldwide. The film overtook Titanic (at the time the top grossing film worldwide) in the Japanese box office to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history with a $229,607,878 total. Acclaimed by international critics, the film is often considered one of the greatest animated films of all-time [and it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at the 75th Academy Awards, the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival (tied with Bloody Sunday) and is among the top ten in the BFI list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14.
The Maridon is an Asian art museum located at 322 N. McKean St. in downtown Butler, roughly 40 miles north of Pittsburgh (map). The movie begins at 6:00 and is free and open to the public; reservations are required, though, and can be made by calling 724-282-0123. The movie is dubbed in English.

Friday, May 9, 2014



The "PITT" リサイクルコットン Tee, seen in Kagawa Prefecture. Part of the Spring 2014 collection by Free Rage.


From the Free Rage website.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Taiwanese film Yi Yi (一一) at Maridon Museum, May 15.


The Taiwanese film Yi Yi (一一, A One and a Two) will play at Butler's Maridon Museum (map) on May 15 as the last of three installments of the museum's Spring Film Series.

A lengthy 2011 Alt Screen post quotes from numerous contemporary and retrospective reviews the 2000 film. From a hyperbolic 2009 Salon review of what "might be the greatest [film] ever":
For me, Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi: A One and a Two …” may be the greatest film ever, let alone the best of the decade. What does that mean? For starters, it means that Yang’s final film lies somewhere between formalist hard-assery and middlebrow accessibility, between slow-burning Ozu and — in the abruptly climaxing story lines of the last hour — understated soap opera. In telling the story of a Taiwanese family in crisis, Yang has three hours to zero in on what makes one family’s members tick while positioning them exactly in the center of late-20th-century global economics: micro- and macro-, both specifically Taiwanese in its business scenes and universal in its familial dynamics.
The movie starts at 6:00 pm, is presented by Slippery Rock's Dr. Ken Harris, and runs nearly three hours.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

CineFestAsia in Erie, May 9 and 10.




The Erie Asian Pacific American Association and the Film Society of North Western Pennsylvania will present CineFestAsia on May 9 and 10 at the Erie Art Museum (map). Friday's opening reception is free and is followed by the world premiere of the Korean documentary Entering the Second Half (잘 살거야) and a discussion with the filmmaker, Heyjin Jun. The Korean title translates to "I Will Live Well" and is
a short documentary on victims of leprosy who have been exiled from society for decades but came to dream of their new lives and talked about hope for the future at their ages of 70s since they learned reading, writing, singing, computer and performing on the stage for the first time of their lives. They are scared but try to step forward towards the society which once abandoned them.
(The name of the South Korean island is Sorok-do, and a Google search will lead to more on the topic.)

Singapore's Ilo Ilo will also run on the 9th, while Transit, The Lady, and Bhaag Milka Bhaag will play on the 10th. Tickets are $5 each. Times and trailers are available by visiting the Erie APAA website and clicking CineFestAsia.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Peelander-Z in Pittsburgh, May 7.


From Facebook.

Japanese punk band Peelander-Z will play Altar Bar in the Strip District on May 7. The show starts at 7:00 pm, and tickets are $10. Wikipedia provides an overview of their shows:
They perform on stage and appear in color-coordinated costumes, which they state are not costumes, but their skin. The costumes range from sentai style suits, to kimono, to rubber Playmobil style wigs. There is also a tiger costume and a giant squid/guitar costume to coincide with the song "Mad Tiger". Another aspect of their routine is their on-stage antics such as human bowling (diving head-first into bowling pins), pretending to hit each other with chairs in imitation of pro-wrestlers, and mid-performance piggyback rides. They often allow audience members on stage to join in on the fun, and often dive into the audience or hang from a balcony as part of their act.
They were last in Pittsburgh in September.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Original Godzilla film at Regent Square Theater, May 5 through May 8.


Via Wikipedia.

The original version of the 1954 Japanese movie Godzilla will play at the Regent Square Theater (map) from May 5 through May 8. From the Pittsburgh Filmmakers website:
It spawned 60 years of sequels, remakes, and rip-offs, but the original over-sized sea creature is as thrilling as ever. The US version was not only badly dubbed, it was revised, re-cut, and re-arranged to add scenes with Raymond Burr as a reporter. To make room (and to excise the strong anti-nuclear subtext) 40 minutes were deleted. This is the restored original: the monster, awakened after millennia by hydrogen bomb testing – and impervious to repeated shelling by the Japanese army – wreaks havoc on Tokyo. With subtitles.