Saturday, August 31, 2013

New list of songs for Oakland's K-Box.

K-Box, Pittsburgh's only Asian-style KTV / karaoke / カラオケ / 노래방 / singing room, released its updated song database, which now includes: 70,000 Chinese songs; 26,000 Japanese songs; 13,000 English songs; and 8,000 Korean songs. K-Box is located at 214 S. Craig Street (map) in Oakland, and hours and rates are listed online.

One big complaint when it opened was the limited selection of non-Chinese songs, but it added 8,000 Korean songs in May and in July asked its customers to suggest the Japanese songs that would be included in its library.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster (一代宗師) at the Waterfront from August 30.

Wong Kar Wai's latest film The Grandmaster (一代宗師) opens nationwide throughout the US tomorrow, August 30, and will play locally at the AMC Loews in the Waterfront (map). Starring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi, the New York Times wrote last week it's
a hypnotically beautiful dream from the Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai, opens with curls of smoke, eddies of water and men soaring and flying across the frame as effortlessly as silk ribbons. The men are warriors, street fighters with furious fists and winged feet, who have massed together on a dark, rainy night to take on Ip Man (Tony Leung), a still figure in a long coat and an elegant white hat. Even amid the violent whirlpools of rain and bodies, that hat never leaves his head. It’s as unyielding as its owner.
Tony Normon writes today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Zhang Ziyi's performance was "so luminous that I considered myself lucky to be alive to enjoy [it]."

Showtimes for Friday are ‎1:30,‎ ‎4:45,‎ ‎7:45‎, and ‎10:45pm‎. An earlier version of this post said the nearest The Grandmaster would come to Pittsburgh was Cleveland Heights, because as of Thursday afternoon the Waterfront's theater information was not updated and instead linked to an Indian movie called "Grand Master".

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Blurriecon, an "anime, gaming, new media, and Japanese culture con" in Erie, September 20 - 22.

The Erie Anime Experience shares information about Blurriecon,
an anime, gaming, new media, and Japanese culture con taking place in Erie, Pennsylvania on September 20, 21, and 22, 2013. The location is the Reed Student Union of Behrend College, 4701 College Drive, Erie, Pennsylvania, 16563. Events include live music by the Waddledees, video gaming of all eras, an anime dance party, cosplay masquerade, geekpop karaoke, drawing, crafting, fan-run panels and more! Our focus is on creativity and participation. Passes are available at the door...$10 per day ($5 with Behrend student ID), $20 all weekend ($10 with Behrend ID).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mooncakes at Squirrel Hill's Dobra Tea.

Dobra Tea in Squirrel Hill (map) will offer mooncakes in September, the month of the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in China and elsewhere in Asia.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jero's Pittsburgh hat.

Jero Pittsburgh hat

Found while looking for something else, here's a hat sold in Japan a few years ago and modeled by Jero, the Pittsburgh native and 2003 Pitt graduate who has found fame as an enka singer. A limited selection of sizes is available from Cap Collector for a day's pay.

412 hat

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pitt had as many Japanese as New Yorkers in 1896.

The University of Pittsburgh kindly scanned millions of pages worth of old documents and made the available online at Documenting Pitt. Flipping through them is a great way to spend a few months some time and learn a little about the international students at Pitt in the 19th and early-20th centuries.

The earliest record available of a Japanese student at what was then Western University of Pennsylvania is of two Japanese engineering students in 1893, Wahei Matsura and Saki Murayama. (The same year the school graduated its first African-American student, William Hunter Dammond.) There isn't a list of students by state and country of origin until the 1896 Catalogue of the Western University of Pennsylvania, which shows that one out of the 583 enrolled students was from Japan (the same as from Kentucky, New York, Germany, and Italy):

In 1916 an alumni directory was published, which lists alumni in alphabetical order and sorts them by country in another list. It includes 10 graduates from China, three from Japan, and one from Korea. Or, rather, one in Korea, as it's F.S. [Frederick Scheibler] Miller, a notable missionary and teacher there in the early-20th century.

Another collection shows that the early Western University of Pennsylvania yearbooks are a little bit like the ones of today: padded in the back with shoutouts and inside jokes. A nicer example from 1921's The Owl:
Otakichi Tanaka
Nagasaki, Japan
One of our neighbors from across "the way." Doesn't say much, but is always listening and when you can get him to talk, he's the most entertaining boy around. Persevering, you ask? You'd think he was if you knew he attends both day and evening school, wouldn't you? Well, he does, and is just as big a booster for the Evening School as any member of it. We're proud to have him with us and happy that he picked Pitt to come to.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chiharu Shiota at Mattress Factory satellite gallery from September 12.

"Stairway", from Chiharu Shiota's official website.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota will have an exhibition at Pittsburgh's Mattress Factory satellite gallery on Sampsonia Way from September 12 through July 31, 2014. The museum's website summarizes Shiota and "Traces of Memory":
Central to the artist’s work are the themes of remembrance and oblivion, dreaming and sleeping, traces of the past and childhood and dealing with anxiety. Shiota explores the relationship between waking life and memories through hauntingly beautiful installations that incorporate everyday objects like shoes, pianos and hospital beds encased in webs of yarn. Stretched in multi-layers in a gallery space, Shiota weaves disorienting cocoons of black yarn that reflect the artist’s desire to ‘draw in the air’.

The site-specific installation of new works by Shiota will fill the eight rooms in the building at 516 Sampsonia Way—a 19th-century row home with a storied past—which is suited to the artist’s work. Its interior is cosmetically untouched; the raw condition of the building lends itself well to reflections on the past and the conjuring of memories.
Pop City adds more:
Shiota, who has worked out of Berlin since 1996, came to Pittsburgh at the beginning of August and has been covering the interior of the building with more than a million feet of yarn.

“She’d never had that big of a space to work with before,” Vanim says. “It’s nice to work in a space that has a little more character and a little more history to it. She’s used to working with plain, white gallery space.”
The opening reception is on the 12th from 7 to 9 pm. The new gallery is located at 516 Sampsonia Way (map), a few houses down from the museum's main building and down the street from the City of Asylum.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Enter the Dragon in Oakmont, August 24 and 25.

Oakmont's The Oaks Theater (map) will show Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's final movie, on August 24 and 25. The 1973 film is highly regarded and was added to the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2004.

Two dollars from every ticket sold on the 24th go to the Warrior Mike Project to provide financial assistance to a local man injured in swimming accident.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Conflict Kitchen is hiring.

Conflict Kitchen, the Oakland foodstand that serves food from nations with which the United States is in conflict, is hiring. From the website:
Employees need to be capable of both working in the kitchen as well as interacting with our customers on topics related to our focus country in the sales window and at our dinners. Employees must bring a keen interest in international politics and cultural relations. Our employees are the face of Conflict Kitchen, and their conversations with our guests are at the core of our mission. We expect our employees to be expert conversationalists, deeply versed in the culture and politics within our focus county. We also expect our employees to learn how to produce our cuisine in an efficient, consistent, and professional manner.
Those interested may submit a resume via the restaurant's website. It's currently serving Cuban food, and will debut its North Korean menu in October.

Dazzle Vision has Live from Pittsburgh CD.

Via the Dazzle Vision Facebook page.

Pretty old news by our standards, but Japanese metal band Dazzle Vision released Live from Pittsburgh on July 5, recorded in front of 1,100 at Pittsburgh's Tekkoshocon in April. It's $20 from JRockShop or $25 from YesAsia (which kicks back a little to this site). Video available for free on YouTube.

Display at Tower Records, via Dazzle Vision's blog.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Appreciation of Squirrel Hill hibiscus in the Korean news.

Gwangju National University of Education president, and University of Pittsburgh alumnus, Park Nam-gi has been in Pittsburgh for a month as part of a teacher-training and cultural-immersion experience with GNUE students. His appreciation of local Hibiscus syriacus (무궁화), which is the national flower of South Korea, was published in the Chosun Ilbo on the 16th. The website---one of the largest papers and news sites in the country---has a periodic series "The Unseen National Flower, Mugunghwa" ("보이지 않는 國花, 무궁화"), and Park's lengthy email on the nostalgia inspired by these plants growing in Pittsburgh is one installment. Here he notes that the walls of hibiscus he enjoyed as a child have been replaced by concrete, and that kids these days growing up in Korea are deprived the opportunity to appreciate the flower in nature:
'마을 앞 무궁화나무 앞에서 친구들과 만나 같이 학교에 가고, 무궁화꽃에 벌이 들어가면 꽃잎을 말아 벌을 잡아 놀기도 했어요. 그러나 무궁화 담장은 언제부터인가 시멘트벽으로 하나둘씩 바뀌더니 점차 사라졌습니다. 지금 아이들은 어렸을 때부터 자연스럽게 무궁화가 품고 있는 의미를 배울 기회가 없어졌지요. 미국 땅에서 무궁화를 보고 반갑기도 했지만, 한국에서 꽃피워야 할 무궁화가 피츠버그에 만발한 것을 보니 그 무궁화 또한 지구 반대편 고향을 그리워하고 있을 것 같아 때로는 슬프게 다가오기도 했습니다.'

박 교수는 피츠버그 사람들이 무궁화를 많이 심어놓은 이유를 알아봤다. '이곳 사람들은 무궁화를 정말 아끼고 좋아하는 것 같아요. 특히 잘 꺾이지 않고 예쁜 꽃이 계속 피기 때문에 정원수나 자연 담장으로 많이 심는다고 하더군요.'

Cambodian singing troupe tours Pittsburgh churches.

Churchgoing Pittsburghers interested in seeing a Cambodian orphan singing troupe can find the "Celebration of Hope" tour in the suburbs for the next week. According to a Post-Gazette story, the group of 18 children has performances scheduled in Oakmont, Pine Township, Zelienople , Penn Hills, and Monroeville through the 24th. From the paper:
The troupe of seven boys and 11 girls, organized by Oakmont-based South East Asia Prayer Center, are touring in an effort to raise awareness about their country and express gratitude for support from around the world. Pittsburgh is the next stop, where the group will spend 10 days performing at seven venues; the first performance is at 1 p.m. today at the Frick Art and Historical Center in Point Breeze, followed by Kennywood Park and several churches in the area.

The children, ages 9 to 17, come from five orphanages in Cambodia. Some have spent years in the homes, and some have just recently moved in. One is the 11-year-old adopted daughter of Pastor Sinai Phouek, the founder of Phnom Penh-based New Hope for Orphans of Cambodia, which partners with the Oakmont organization.
Not much advance notice given for their Frick and Kennywood performances, though. It's not the first time the Oakmont group has hosted Cambodian visitors.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

"There was no fresh bamboo available": Pittsburgh's first panda encounter leads to "rampage" in 1939.

Flipping through Dubuque, Iowa's Telegraph-Herald, we find a story of Pittsburgh's brief encounter with a panda. From May 2, 1939:
Pittsburgh--(U.P.)--Three transport plane pilots struggled with a giant panda in midair Monday as the animal, being flown across country, wandered into the plane's cabin when the airliner came into Allegheny County for a landing.

The plane was landed safely, although the 70-pound animal bit First Officer M.H. Cassing on the hand as the ship came to earth. Passengers on the TWA plane were unaware of the pilots' struggle.

Enters Control Cabinet

The panda was chained in the plane's baggage compartment when Tommy Tomlinson, chief test pilot for TWA, attempted to step through. The animal nipped at his trousers and chased him back into the cabin.

Encouraged by the pilot's retreat, the beast boldly ambled into the control cabin and approached Capt. Don Terry. Cassing then took over the controls while Capt. Terry struggled with the panda.

Eluding Capt. Terry, the animal managed to bite Cassing as the first officer brought the plane to a landing.

Bound from China to the Bronx Zoo in New York, the animal was in charge of Dr. A.E. Best of West China University, a passenger in the plane, Dr. Best did not know of the panda's rampage until the ship was landed.

"Does anybody have any fresh bamboo," he asked. "That will pacify him."

There was no fresh bamboo available.
The panda made it to the Bronx Zoo later in the day, but "Pan" died about a year later.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Taiwanese catcher "part of scouting revolution" for Pirates organization.

Via Pittsburgh Prospects.

Taiwanese catcher Jin-de Jhang (張進德), currently with single-A Jamestown, is "part of a scouting revolution" for the Pittsburgh Pirates, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today. Jhang was one of two Taiwanese players signed by the Pirates in 2011, and ranked #20 on the list of top Pirates prospects compiled by Pirates Prospects in January.

Library orientation in Japanese, Korean, Chinese for international students at Pitt, August 19 - 23.

International students at the University of Pittsburgh can sign up for library orientation sessions held in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese.
* Would you like to know and meet a librarian who speaks your native language?
* Would you like to know the differences between the academic libraries in the U.S. and libraries in your home country?
* Would you like to know what and how the library can help your area of study and research at Pitt?
The sessions will be held from August 19 through 23, and interested students can sign up by emailing one of the contacts listed on the East Asian Library event page. The East Asian Library, on the second floor of Pitt's Hillman Library, has books, journals, and periodicals in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, as well as some resources about those languages and their respective countries in English. More specifically it has, says the website:
approximately 303,000 volumes of Chinese, 135,000 volumes of Japanese, 16,900 volumes of Korean and some English language materials, plus over 900 titles of periodicals (over 50,000 volumes bound) published in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

In addition, it holds about 12,700 reels of microfilms, over 2,100 CD-ROMs, about 1,300 Video/audio tapes, 1,700 DVDs, and 20 major area studies online databases in East Asian languages.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Conflict Kitchen travels to [South] Korea to prepare for [North] Korean menu.

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

In April we wrote about Pittsburgh's Conflict Kitchen adding North Korean take-out to its menu this fall. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes about the restaurant's trip to South Korea to research its latest incarnation:
Later this month, the co-founders of Conflict Kitchen and their head chef will find themselves close to North Korean soil again. Proprietors Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, along with culinary director Robert Sayre, will speak and cook with South Korean natives and North Korean refugees during a week-long research trip to South Korea. Their efforts will debut a new menu in late October at the Schenley Plaza take-out restaurant, where they serve food from countries with which the United States is in conflict.

"We want to get a sense of what [the refugees'] life was, what their life is, what they're feeling on what's going on inside their country," Mr. Rubin, 49, of Point Breeze, said.

Their trip is funded by the Anyang Public Art Project in South Korea. They'll begin their research by conducting interviews with native Koreans -- and then they'll begin chopping ingredients.

Friday, August 9, 2013

1967 Korean film Yonggary, 1968 Japanese film Genocide in Dormont tomorrow.

Yonggary poster 1967

On August 10, Dormont's Hollywood Theater is hosting "13 Hours of Sci-Fi", which will show 10 classic science-fiction movies from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s. Among them are two old Asian monster movies: Korea's Yonggary (용가리) and Japan's Genocide.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WPXI's website looks at protests in Seoul.

The website for WPXI, Pittsburgh's NBC affiliate, found room between its advertisements to host a Reuters video on candlelight protests in Seoul, a post that attracted the attention of some Korean Twitter users.
South Korean protesters held a candlelight vigil against the government's ruling party on Saturday, after allegations surfaced earlier this year that the country's spy agency had meddled in the 2012 presidential elections. South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party, has accused the ruling Saenuri Party of failing to conduct a proper parliamentary investigation into the country's National Intelligence Service (NIS).
The original post from 소셜네트워크(SNS) 핫이슈, which says that a local NBC affiliate in the US reported on the candlelight protests in Seoul, ended up with 238 retweets. We are sorry to report, though, that news of this, or any other protest in downtown Seoul, failed to actually make Pittsburgh's local news.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council issues proclamation to "commend and recognize" Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace.

Pittsburgh Remembering Hiroshima Proclamation 2013

Yesterday, ahead of the 68th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Pittsburgh City Council issued a proclamation to "commend and recognize the important work of Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace". The group received similar proclamations in its honor in 2008, 2010, and 2012.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Yen's gourmet facade to go.

Via Google Maps.

The distinctive Chinese characters across the street from East Liberty's Target will meet the wrecking ball, according to plans that will have part of the block replaced with a new six-story building. The façade currently belongs to Yen's Gourmet Chinese Restaurant, a space that may soon look like this:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Teen Anime Club meetings in Oakland, East Liberty, Carrick, August 3.

Hey keen teens, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh branches in Oakland (map), East Liberty (map), and Carrick (map) will host Teen Anime Club meetings on Saturday, August 3. The Oakland branch hypes:
We've got the anime you want to watch and a mountain of pocky to keep your spirits running high. Whether you jump at shonen or shojo is more your beat, check out the fun at the Teen Anime Club!
The East Liberty meeting runs from 2 to 4, the Carrick one from 3 to 4, and the Oakland one from 3 to 5. More information available on the respective pages; registration is required for the East Liberty meeting.

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