Monday, March 11, 2013

"Teruko Shiono is a one-woman Japanese-American amity committee in the Pittsburgh area".

We recently learned of the passing of Ms. Teruko Shiono, whose obituary was published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday. She helped found the Japan Association of Greater Pittsburgh, was active in the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors (now Global Pittsburgh), and with her husband was "instrumental in the creation of the Japanese Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh". She was also, according to a 1988 Newsweek profile, "a one-woman Japanese-American amity committee in the Pittsburgh area".
Shortly after she arrived in this country, Teruko Shiono was given a baby shower by her new friends in Pittsburgh. She has never forgotten that unexpected kindness and has spent the better part of 30 years trying to repay it.

Mrs. Shiono is a one-woman Japanese-American amity committee. When a Japanese woman went into labor at Pittsburgh's Presbyterian-University Hospital, and it developed that the mother-to-be and the doctors couldn't speak to each other, Mrs. Shiono hurried from her Highland Park home to bridge the gap. When Japanese athletes come to town, Mrs. Shiono is always available to whip up some home cooking -- rice, sushi, yakitori. The recorded Japanese voice that describes sights on local tour buses is hers. When the Pittsburgh Opera Theater wanted to stage "Madame Butterfly" it was Mrs. Shiono they turned to, and the costumes were found. And when a Japanese student is homesick in Pittsburgh, the school is likely to give him Mrs. Shiono's number. "They want to talk," she says, "so I listen. It's a Japanese custom -- the older helps the younger. You do what you can. That's the American way too, yes?"
She also found time to teach Mr. Rogers and friends how to do origami.