Tuesday, April 30, 2013

2013 Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, Pittsburgh, May 10 - 19.

Two ShadowsTatsumiPietaCha Cha For TwinsAsuraThe Thieves KoreanTwo Weddings and a FuneralOrosTwo Moons KoreanNightmareKey of LifeHeadshot movieGracelandBeijing FlickersArchitecture 101 Korean

The schedule for the annual Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival is out, with 31 full-length films playing from May 10th through May 19th. Posters for the 15 most relevant to this blog are shown above, which include four from Korea, three from Japan, and two from China. The movies will show at three venues around the city: The Melwood Screening Room in Oakland, the Harris Theater downtown, and the eponymous Regent Square Theater.

For plot summaries, trailers, and ticket information, visit the Silk Screen website. And we'll have reminders over here throughout the festival.

Miyuki's candy art in Aspinwall, May 2 and 3.

Candy Miyuki Pittsburgh
From her official site.

According to Teppanyaki Kyoto Restaurant's Facebook page, Japanese candy artist Miyuki will be at Bella Christie and Lil Z's Sweet Boutique in Aspinwall (map) from 4:00 to 7:00 pm on May 2nd and 3rd.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Build yourself a Sungnyemun.

Lego Sungnyemun

I was surprised to see this at Barnes & Noble today: a Lego model of Sungnyemun, one of Seoul's gates and better known in Korea and abroad as Namdaemun until it burned down in 2008. The iconic structure is being rebuilt, and you can play along at home. This particular model in the Lego Architecture series was retired earlier in the year, though, is no longer available on the Lego website. It's also listed as a product for girls, so apparently it was off-limits to half the population who might be interested in building a South Korean landmark. However, they still have a couple at the Cranberry location selling for the suggested retail price of $34.99.

If you're interested in building Korean models, you'll find more variety on G-Market, one of South Korea's online shopping portals. Browsing plastic collectibles turns up dragon ships and other old boats, traditional houses, the Blue House, and a whole Royal Palace Series, for starters.

Sungnyemun plastic modelRoyal Palace Series plastic modelBlue House kit
A Sungnyemun plastic model, and the 12-item Royal Palace Series, and the Blue House, available from G-Market. It's the English website, and many of these models are available for international shipping, but the pages are often in Korean.

Cantoy shoots music video in Pittsburgh (it survives).

If it's extremely rare for an Asian band to play Pittsburgh, it's unimaginably so for one to shoot a music video here. Cantoy did both in April: playing Tekkoshocon and hanging around Strip District back alleys for "Ranka".

Find performers on the Japan Artists Information Directory.

Every so often I get questions about where to find a Japanese artist or performer for a cultural event (usually right before said cultural event). One potential resource is the Japan Artists Information Directory, compiled by the Five Colleges Consortium in western Massachusetts. There you can find a directory of performers organized by name, genre, and region. Western Pennsylvania is rather quiet so far, with only three performers, but it has the potential to be a valuable resource. And considering the demand for artists and performers in classrooms, at on-campus events, and at seasonal festivals, if you specialize in a type of Japanese dance, song, or skill, it might behoove you to list yourself on the JAID if you are interested in more work.

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 Korean Food Bazaar, May 4th in Shadyside.

Korean Food Bazaar Pittsburgh2013 Korean Food Bazaar Pittsburgh

New posters for the 18th annual Korean Food Bazaar (바자회) went online last week. The festival is scheduled for May 4th from 10:30 to 4:00 at the Korean Central Church of Pittsburgh (피츠버그한인중앙교회) in Shadyside (map). We went last year; it was good.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Naya Restaurant to replace Aseoma on Murray Ave.


This sign just went up at 2018 Murray Ave., announcing that Naya Restaurant is coming soon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"One Night in Beijing" at CMU, April 27.

Carnegie Mellon University's Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture (ARCC) will host its annual "One Night in Beijing" on April 27. The event's Facebook page says:
The show boasts a wide variety of performances, including traditional Chinese dances, hip-hop dances, a cappella, Chinese yo-yo, and much much more!

This year's theme is The White Serpent. Come experience an amazing display of talent and culture while following a classic legend of romance and courage.
The show will be held in UC Rangos from 7 pm to 9 pm (campus map). Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Art of Akira Returns through April 28.

A reminder that Toonseum: Pittsburgh Museum of Cartoon Art will continue to host The Art of Akira Returns through April 28. It opened on February 5, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Anime Film Series and its showing of Akira, which Toonseum writes, "single-handedly saved the Japanese film industry and changed the way the world viewed animation art forever". The museum's profile of the exhibit continues:
AkiraThe historic and artistic significance of AKIRA cannot be denied; it was the pinnacle of cel animation. Complete with a definitive orchestral score and professional voice actors, AKIRA was the most expensive animated film ever made when it was released in 1988. The film is a document of many animation firsts but is especially noteworthy for being one of the last completely hand-drawn cel-animated features produced before the rise of digital technology. A collaboration of thousands of artists and thirteen Japanese production companies, this staggering adaptation has become one of the most universally praised films of all time and has inspired a revolution in animation still apparent over 20 years after its release. The Art Of AKIRA celebrates these incredible achievements by giving viewers a fascinating tour of the making of this landmark film.
Toonseum is located at 945 Liberty Ave. in Pittsburgh's Cultural District (map), and is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day but Tuesday.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Clones of D.C. cherry blossoms sent to Pittsburgh.

Washington D.C., April 2011

A line in an April 10th PBS blog post about "cloning the original cherry blossoms" sent to Washington D.C. by Japan caught my eye:
[Horticulturist Dave] Kidwell-Slak says the Arboretum has sent clippings of the gift trees to Pittsburgh and North Carolina for cities to plant.
And a March 22nd AP article says:
More recently, the arboretum and the park service sent 120 clones of the original trees back to Japan so scientists there can also retain the genetic line. Another set of trees has been sent to Pittsburgh to be planted in parks there.
An email to Dr. Kidwell-Slak hasn't received a reply yet, so it's not known yet where the clippings were sent or under whose supervision they will be. I'm pulling for Schenley Park.

Tekkoshocon renamed Tekko.

On the Tekkoshocon Inc's President's blog, the author writes on the decision to formally shorten the name of Pittsburgh's largest anime convention from Tekkoshocon to Tekko. The biggest reasons for the official change---to what fans already call it---are mispronunciation among locals and confusion among Japanese.
The name is difficult to pronounce and I have encountered a number of Pittsburgh businesses that avoid using our name because they forget how to pronounce it. I cannot count the number of times I went into a restaurant over Tekkoshocon X-2 and heard “You’re with that anime convention; I cannot remember what it’s called, something tekk something like.” That is really bad. How do you expect people to remember you if they cannot remember the name.
Give it a read. Actually, a lot of the entries on that blog are thought-provoking and forthcoming, and not only for people interested specifically in anime conventions.
Korean Food Bazaar Pittsburgh

The poster for the 18th annual Korean Food Bazaar (바자회) went online on Wednesday. It's scheduled for May 4th from 10:30 to 4:00 at the Korean Central Church of Pittsburgh (피츠버그한인중앙교회) in Shadyside (map). We went last year; it was good.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pittsburgh Sakura Project photo contest.

North Park Sakura 1
A rainy March day in 2012.

The Pittsburgh Sakura Project, which has been planting cherry blossoms and other trees around North Park's boathouse the past few years, is holding a photo contest. The group
seek[s] photos showing the scenery in North Park that convey the beauty of the cherry trees the Pittsburgh Sakura Project has planted. Photos may also show people and pets enjoying the trees.
More information can be found on the Pittsburgh Sakura Project's webpage. Because, unfortunately, the cherry blossoms don't frame the boathouse or the nearby picnic groves particularly well, it will be a time to get creative with angles, subjects, and poses. The top three photographers will win gift certificates to Chaya Japanese Restaurant in Squirrel Hill.

Also according to an April 17th post on the website, the blossoms there are in full bloom.

Part three of Pitt student's spring break in North Korea.

A kindergarten performance, from the Young Pioneer Tours Facebook page.

The Citizen-Standard, a paper serving three eastern Pennsylvania counties, has been running a series of columns by Evan Terwilliger, a Pitt senior who spent his spring break in North Korea. Here is an excerpt from the final of three installments:
Much of the information we see in our media about the DPRK has been comprised of primarily values-based critiques. I urge you to be very wary of the pitfalls of these types of judgments. A values-based critique occurs when one uses his/her own values as a perspective to evaluate something else. They are not conducive for understanding others and they tend to oversimplify others (particularly negatively). They lead to evaluation before understanding. Lastly, values-based critiques require no skill in perspective thinking. There is only one perspective, which creates no productive discourse. We get into very dangerous situations like we see at the present by arguing "I'm right! You're wrong! We're better! You're flawed! I'm still right! You're still wrong, ignorant, and dangerous!" We can, of course, be angry and feel disgusted about issues. What is not okay is to simply dismiss the people on the other side. We must engage.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tomodachi Festival at Carnegie Library Oakland, April 20.

The Carnegie Library in Oakland (map) will host the 2nd annual Tomodachi Festival on April 20 from 2:00 to 4:30. Promoted as a "celebration of Japan and Japanese culture" and aimed toward the little ones, the library website invites families to
[j]oin us for Kamishibai storytelling, singing and dancing, kimono try-ons, origami art and more. Cookies will be served.
The cookies will be provided by Yummyholic, and the event is put on by the library and the Japan-American Society of Pennsylvania.

People interested in this may also want to check out "Camp Konnichiwa", offered at the library again this spring. There are two sessions left of "this four-week camp offering fun activities to help children learn Japanese": April 27 and May 6. Registration is required, and can be done so at the events' webpages or by calling 412-622-3122.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cherry blossoms in Philadelphia.


We had a great time at the 2013 Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia over the weekend. We were lucky enough to wander around the day before Sakura Sunday and see the sakura in fuller bloom. Highlights included dancers and taiko drummers from Tamagawa University, tours of Shofuso Japanese House & Garden nearby, and perfect weather. It's definitely worth a drive next year.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Of borders and ball pits"; second installment of Pitt student's spring break in North Korea.

North Korea ballpit
Ball pit in North Korea, via Young Pioneers Tours Facebook Page.

Last week was the first installment by Evan Terwilliger on his trip to North Korea in March. Terwilliger is a Pitt student who spent spring break there and who is writing about it for the Citizen-Standard, which serves three eastern PA counties. Yesterday brought us the second of three installments. An excerpt:
[W]e traveled to the balcony of Panmungak (that big building you see in the pictures opposite South Korea's House of Freedom). We could wave, smile, laugh, point, and take pictures of whatever we wanted (including soldiers). We even got our picture with the First Lieutenant that was showing us around. When we arrived back at the outer perimeter again, I found some common ground with our KPA escort. We agreed that as normal people we would not want to hurt each other. He claimed that I was a nice guy and everything, but that I would be shooting at him if I was fighting for my country. I told him that I never hope it comes to that. Oh, and we also agreed that we love potatoes. Isn't that a start to peace?
It's always a treat to find such things in small, out of the way newspapers.

Eat Drink Man Woman at Maridon Museum, April 18.

Eat Drink Man Woman

Butler's Maridon Museum will show Eat Drink Man Woman (飲食男女) on April 18. It's a 1994 Ang Lee film that is certainly one of Taiwan's best known. An abridged New York Times review writes of it:
[A] look at ethnic and sexual conflicts in a Chinese family, with meals as a centerpiece of the film. Master chef Chu (Sihung Lung) is a long-time widower who lovingly cooks large Sunday dinners for his three daughters, who view the meals as too traditional. Secretly, however, successful airline executive Jia-Chien (Chien-Lien Wu) loves traditional cooking and would like to be a chef like her father, if women were permitted to do so. Her older sister Jia-Jen (Kuei-Mei Yang) is unmarried and cynical about men, but she becomes attracted to a volleyball coach and eventually pursues him vigorously. The youngest daughter, Jia-Ning (Yu-Wen Wang), is a college student who becomes pregnant from her frequent sexual escapades. As the film progresses, the personal relationships between the daughters and their significant others change unexpectedly.
The Maridon is an Asian art museum at 322 N. McKean St. in downtown Butler (map) that presents Asian films from particular countries as part of its spring and fall series. Last year it was China and Vietnam. Eat Drink Man Woman begins at 6:30 pm and is presented by Dr. Kenneth Harris of Slippery Rock University.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Korean Food Bazaar, May 4th.

Advance notice for the 18th annual Korean Food Bazaar (바자회), scheduled for May 4th from 10:30 to 4:00 at the Korean Central Church of Pittsburgh (피츠버그한인중앙교회) in Shadyside (map). We went last year; it was good.

"The Passion of Gamelan and Pop Sunda" at Pitt, April 12 and 13.

Poster from the Asian Studies Center.

Pitt will host a concert on April 12 and 13 featuring its University of Pittsburgh Gamelan orchestra and several visiting Indonesian musicians. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes today about Pitt's program and the upcoming collaboration this weekend:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pitt News on Philippine Nationality Room stuck in development hell.

Philippine Nationality Room Pittsburgh
A look at the room from Popi Laudico. It was "designed to incorporate the look of the traditional Philippine Bahay na Bato circa 1820".

The Pitt News---student paper at the University of Pittsburgh---has a lengthy article on the proposed Philippine Nationality Room, stalled and doomed by years of in-fighting.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pitt student visits North Korea for spring break.

Young Pioneer Tours Pittsburgh
Photo in a North Korean school's language lab, via the Young Pioneer Tours Facebook page. Guides for English study are posted on the wall.

Flipping through the Citizen-Standard, which serves three eastern Pennsylvanian counties, brings us to a timely piece by Evan Terwilliger, a University of Pittsburgh student who just spent a week in North Korea. Cutting to the chase:
Many of the popularly-held beliefs that I took into the country turned out to be completely unfounded. For one, the average DPRK citizen is extraordinarily normal. They're not robots. They get through the day one day at a time and, just like us, have pride and support for their country. The biggest fear of the average citizen is being misrepresented in the global media. I had to admit it: the very notion of content and happy communists threatens the foundation of a capitalist society like ours. A couple of times, I was asked what the average American thinks of the DPRK. I was asked about my views of the government and the ongoing tension between our countries. We met up with one tour guide in Pyongyang. He said to me: "Evan, I know I'm from the DPRK; I know you're from America. But remember this: all around the world. . .children is children, life is life, and love is love." Over a few drinks, we agreed that nobody actually wants war. Everybody wants a peaceful world. I proposed a cheer to peace. We drank through the night.
The Young Pioneer Tours Facebook page has more pictures and posts.

For a couple takes on the latest North Korean situation---and especially on Western media's interpretation of it---written by expats living in the South, visit Roboseyo, Scroozle's Sanctuary, and the category on the topic at The Marmot's Hole. And for a thoughtful look at life in North Korea (and one with a local touch), former St. Vincent's College professor Richard Saccone's Living with the Enemy: A Year in North Korea is worth a read.

Tibetan film Old Dog at IUP, April 10.

Pittsburgh Old Dog

The Tibetan film Old Dog will run on April 10 as part of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania 2013 Foreign Film and Music Series. From last year's Brooklyn Film Festival website:
A Tibetan sheep herder sells his father's prized Tibetan mastiff to a dealer without his father's approval. When his father finds out, he must travel into a frontier town to retrieve the dog that he raised for 12 years and is deeply attached to. The relation between father and son is turned upside down, and the mastiff has to be guarded at all times from dog-nappers and dealers who constantly harass the family with ever increasing offers. "Old Dog" is a poetic story about Tibet's changing society, where old values are in direct conflict with new.
There are two showings, at 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm, in Sprawls Hall. The shows are free and are funded in part by the IUP Student Activity Fee.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Pirates get Hyun-Jin Ryu's second MLB start on Sunday.

From the Pirates' website.

The Korean press had long been speculating when star pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu would make his Major League debut. In January, the Hankook Ilbo, among others, forecast it for April 6th or 7th against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Welcome, Xia.

Red Pandas are from Asia. The Pittsburgh Zoo just put one on display. That's all the motivation we need to post a cute video.

Pittsburgh's red panda "Xia" is two years old and comes from a zoo in North Dakota. From KDKA:
[Zookeeper] Bamrick says she behaves like a house cat, friendly on her own terms. Despite her appearance, the red panda is not related to cats, raccoons, or foxes.

For that matter, the zookeeper says, “It’s not a panda. It’s been classified with the giant pandas, and classified with raccoons and bears. They’ve kind of settled on their own group. If you look back tens of millions of years, they have common ancestry, but today they’re one of a kind.”

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

North Korean take-out coming to Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen this fall, maybe.

Wonsan Docks North Korea
Popsicles in Wonsan, 2012, from Joseph A. Ferris.

Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen---"a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict"---recently opened in Oakland's Schenley Park. Accompanying news of its relocation from East Liberty and its Iranian menu is that North Korean food will be coming this fall. From the Pitt News yesterday:
While Conflict Kitchen’s current menu features authentic Iranian cuisine, its organizers hope to bring North Korean food to Oakland’s Schenley Plaza soon.

As of now, the Conflict Kitchen’s crew plans to travel to South Korea in August to meet with North Korean refugees and conduct food research. These face-to-face interactions allow for more direct information and a better product. Sayre said that while the crew formally conducted food research on a trip to Cuba, some of the best information and tips they received were from ordinary people they ran into on the street informally. The crew always attempts to experience a country’s food firsthand before bringing it to Pittsburgh, but in some cases, such as North Korea and Iran, field research is not feasible.
And from The Last Magazine in February:
While exploring Cuba, Rubin and Weleski came across the North Korean embassy in Havana and decided to pay the cultural attaché a visit. They discussed regional dishes and found out that North Korea’s food is in many ways similar to that of its bête noire, South Korea. While they acknowledge that a North Korean edition of Conflict Kitchen may be problematic, they nonetheless want to shed light on the human side of the conflict, cooking up coexistence through ethnic dishes regardless of the degree of controversy.
A Pop City Media post from March says they will offer both North and South Korean food, which is useful considering there are tens of thousands of American military personnel there, both symbolizing and actually representing this country's heavy bootprint all across East Asia.

Much of what the restaurant does know about North Korean food has heretofore come from Cuba, via that North Korean embassy. The Pittsburgh City Paper on their preparations up to last fall:
While research hasn’t stretched to visiting the country, Rubin and Sayre did stop by the North Korean embassy in Cuba, or at least rung the doorbell and chatted for 45 minutes with an employee returning from a morning run.
The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2012 of the then-impending Korean menu:
"People are going to be thinking, 'Are we going to be eating twigs and rocks?' " Rubin joked as he repaired the cafe's front counter, where employees dish out food and try to get customers to talk about the conflict du jour.

One thing Rubin learned from the Korean diplomat, who was polite but did not let his uninvited guests into the embassy, is that North Korean cuisine isn't much different from South Korean. The two countries were, after all, one until 1945, the diplomat reminded them in flawless Spanish. He noted, however, that northerners lean toward buckwheat rather than rice noodles.
Wikipedia will give you a quick overview of regional Northern Korean food. The "maybe" in our title is there because talk of North Korean food has been going on since 2010.

Monday, April 1, 2013

"Thai Hana" restaurant coming to Oakland.

This sign for "Thai Hana" recently went up at 3608 Fifth Ave. in Oakland, in what most recently was AJ's Inca Peruvian restaurant.

Thai Hana Pittsburgh

Thai Hana will join an Indian place, a Lebanese place, a pizza place, and a Popeye's on this Fifth Ave. block. Over the past year Miss Saigon 88, Rose Tea Cafe, and Sushi Fuku opened in Oakland and joined a half-dozen other Asian places, so in spite of this blog's focus I am a little sorry to see the Peruvian place go.

Update, 04/24/13: Signage went up.

Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters at Carnegie Library Oakland, April 7.

The Carnegie Library Oakland branch will show Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters on April 7 as part of its monthly Foreign Film Series. Frequently ambiguous---mindful perhaps of copyright violations---the library's website describes the unnamed film thus:
A look at acclaimed Japanese author and playwright Yukio Mishima, the impossible harmony he created between self, art, and society, and his famously committed public seppuku (ritual suicide).
The movie runs from 2:00 to 4:00. Wikipedia and IMDB have more, and Roger Ebert gave it four stars.

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