Thursday, July 31, 2014

Asian Garden coming to North Fayette.

A bridge at one end of a pond that comprises the Asian garden; from the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden's Facebook page.

On Friday the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote about the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, opening on August 1, which will include an Asian garden as one of its five Woodlands areas.
The 60-acre Woodlands section that will open next week features five areas: a Cove Forest, an Asian Garden, European and English woodlands and an Appalachian Plateau. Cove forests are unique to the Appalachians and lie in small valleys closed at one or both ends.
A master plan posted in February says the contents of the Asian Woods will include: Lotus Pond and Teahouse; Stream & Primrose Garden; Bench Garden; Azalea Bowl; and Maple Trail and Rustic Shelter. It will abut a Rock and Gravel Garden.

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is located at 798 Pinkerton Run Rd. in Oakdale (map). It's open Thursday through Sunday from 9 to 5 from August through November, and until dusk on Saturdays. General admission tickets are $9 for adults and $8 for students and seniors.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First rendition of Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute.

Last week the University of Pittsburgh put that artist's rendition of Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute on its website. The institute at Sichuan University's Jiang'an campus is set to open in Fall 2015 with an initial enrollment of 100 undergraduates across three majors, though a University of Pittsburgh press release says the enrollment is projected to reach 1,600. Ground was broken for the institute on July 2.

Monday, July 28, 2014

학원 in Pittsburgh? Murrysville man starts SAT academy based on South Korean models.

Yesterday's Tribune-Review profiled Jesse Lee, who started mySchooler Academy and Education Consulting after being dissatisfied with options for preparing his own son for the SATs:
Lee moved to the United States from South Korea in 2000, earning a master's degree in information science from Carnegie Mellon University.

“A couple years ago I thought about it, that I just needed (to provide) that for college preparation,” said Lee, 46, who lives in Murrysville with his wife, Kyung, and son Jay, a junior at Penn-Trafford High School. “Originally we started this year in January: Saturday classes started at that point and then we just expanded them. Our students just needed more, so we set up doing a summer schedule for them.”

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Talk with author of Love Beyond Measure: Memoir of a Korean War Bride, July 29.

On July 29, the South Butler Community Library will host author Katie Schell to discuss her 2013 book Love Beyond Measure: Memoir of a Korean War Bride:
Encounter a breathtaking story about one of the first Korean women to ever live in Moon Township, PA. This memoir details the amazing life of her mother Ock Soon Lee’s journey as a young Korean peasant who survived unspeakable suffering. Orphaned at age seven and farmed out to households as a slave, Lee experienced near-starvation and capture by the North Korean Army. Yet, incredibly she survived and fell in love with an American G.I. from McKees Rocks. After immigration laws changed in the late 1950’s she became one of a small handful of Korean War brides to make it to the United States. This is a true story of incredible courage that carried Ock Soon Lee from life as a peasant in Korea to that of a proud American. It is a story of strength and love during the Korean War. It is a story you will never forget.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania's Picnic with Iwate Prefecture Teenagers, August 7.

The Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania (based in Pittsburgh) has announced an August 7 picnic with a group of six teenagers from Iwate Prefecture. From the JASP event listing:
Come and join us Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at 6 p.m. for a picnic in Schenley Park. We will be picnicking with six teenagers from Iwate Prefecture who were affected by the tsunami earthquake in 2011. These children are visiting Pittsburgh courtesy of UK-based The PINE Foundation, and were selected on the basis of their stellar participation in extracurricular English-learning activities by the Children’s Empowerment Iwate Charity ( This picnic is a great opportunity to help them gain more knowledge of U.S. culture and give them positive thoughts of the world after they suffered from huge trauma in the tsunami earthquake.

Meats and beverages will be provided by The PINE Foundation. Please bring a side dish to share, as well as any picnic chairs you may have.
Registration is required by July 31, and can be done so online or by calling a number provided at the link. The picnic will be held at Westinghouse Shelter (map).

Friday, July 25, 2014

Korean-style fried chicken place Chick'n Bubbly to soft-open in Oakland Monday, July 28.

Chick'n Bubbly announced today, during its free sample giveaway, that it will have a soft opening on Monday, July 28. Chick'n Bubbly is a Korean-style fried-chicken place at 117 Oakland Ave. (map), next to Oishii Bento---routinely voted the best local Korean and Japanese restaurants by Pitt News readers---with whom it shares owners. We scanned a menu below:

Free samples of Chick'n Bubbly on July 25.

Chick'n Bubbly announced on Facebook a little before noon that it would offer free samples of its Korean-style fried chicken from 12:30.

Chick'n Bubbly is under construction at 117 Oakland Ave. (map), and will be Pittsburgh's first Korean fried chicken place.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pittsburgh-based papercutting artist Bovey Lee in the news this week.

Vase I (detail 2), via her website.

This week a couple of blogs (1, 2) have profiled Hong Kong native and Pittsburgh-based papercutting artist Bovey Lee. An excerpt from her artistic statement:
My narrative-based cut paper explores the tension between man and the environment in the context of power, sacrifice, and survival. These three “motivators,” as I call them, drive all our desires and behaviors toward one another and the environment. We live in a time when we overdo everything from technology to urbanization to consumption. My recent work is informed by our precarious relationship with nature in the twenty-first century, i.e., what we do to the environment with our super machines and technologies and what nature does back to us in reaction.

I hand cut each work on a single sheet of Chinese xuan (rice) paper backed with silk and both are renewable and eco-friendly materials.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville, from July 25.

The newly-opened Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will show Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (臥虎藏龍) from July 25 through July 31. A contemporary Chicago Tribune review of the 2000 martial arts film:
This is a film that really soars. One of the best adventure movies of the last decade, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is also gravely, eerily beautiful: poetic and moving in ways that we usually don't associate with violent genre films. The movie draws on three Chinese language cultures -- the subject is Chinese, the director (Lee) is Taiwanese-American, but the style is Hong Kong to the core. Yet where the classic Hong Kong actioners -- films such as "A Chinese Ghost Story" and "Wu-Warriors of the Magic Mountain" -- are often rambunctiously kitschy and over-the-top, this movie has richer veins of psychology and character, even though Lee, a devotee of such films since boyhood, plays with most of their conventions (one-against-a-bunch fights, treetop battles, wizards and sorcerers).
The movie stars Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, and Chow Yun-Fat. Showtimes vary at the single-screen theater, and are listed on the website. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Golden Pig to reopen July 31.

Golden Pig, the best Korean restaurant in the area, will reopen July 31.

It had been closed since May 28 while the owner was in Korea. Golden Pig is located in Cecil Township (map), about 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Former Penguin Jim Paek named coach of South Korea's men's national hockey team.

Via Yonhap:
South Korea has turned to a former National Hockey League (NHL) defenseman to lead its men's national hockey team, hoping his playing experience and coaching acumen could help the country qualify for the next Winter Olympics on home ice.

The Korea Ice Hockey Association (KIHA) announced Wednesday it has signed Jim Paek, the first player of Korean descent to play in the NHL, as the new head coach and executive director of the men's national team. He agreed to a four-year deal but financial terms weren't disclosed.
Korean-Canadian Paek (백지선) was the first Korean player in the NHL and played parts of four seasons with the Penguins. The second Korean player, Richard Park, also debuted with Pittsburgh. Baek has been an assistant in the American Hockey League since 2005.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yojimbo (用心棒) at Oakland's Melwood Screening Room, July 30.

Oakland's Melwood Screening Room will present the 1961 Akira Kurosawa film Yojimbo (用心棒) on July 30. An excerpt of a 2005 Roger Ebert review:
[Kurosawa] was deliberately combining the samurai story with the Western, so that the wind-swept main street could be in any frontier town, the samurai (Toshiro Mifune) could be a gunslinger, and the local characters could have been lifted from John Ford's gallery of supporting actors.

Ironic, that having borrowed from the Western, Kurosawa inspired one: Sergio Leone's "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), with Clint Eastwood, is so similar to "Yojimbo" that homage shades into plagiarism. Even Eastwood's Man With No Name is inspired, perhaps, by the samurai in "Yojimbo." Asked his name, the samurai looks out the window, sees a mulberry field, and replies, "Kuwabatake Sanjuro," which means "30-year-old mulberry field." He is 30, and that is a way of saying he has no name.

He also has no job. The opening titles inform us that in 1860, after the collapse of the Tokugawa Dynasty, samurai were left unemployed and wandered the countryside in search of work. We see Sanjuro at a crossroads, throwing a stick into the air and walking in the direction it points. That brings him to the town, to possible employment, and to a situation that differs from Hollywood convention in that the bad guys are not attacking the good guys because there are no good guys[.]
The show starts at 8:00, and the theater is located at 477 Melwood Ave. in Oakland (map). Part of the Essential Cinema series, tickets are $2.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Four Pitt student-athletes visit Vietnam in Coach for College program.

Campers from the 2014 program, via the Coach for College Facebook group.

An excerpt from a July 16 Pitt Athletics press release:
Brianna Kiesel of the Pitt women's basketball team, along with three member of the swimming and diving team will be representing the Panthers as they joins fellow student-athletes from around the country on a month-long trip to Vietnam with the `Coach for College' program.

"I'm so excited for this opportunity," Kiesel said. "I can't wait to go to Vietnam and immerse myself into a culture I don't know much about. It is an amazing opportunity to build relationships with the kids in Vietnam and also with my peers from the United States."
. . .
The student-athletes will serve as a member of a "coaching group" while in Vietnam, along with other student-athlete from the States and two bilingual Vietnamese college students. The program consists of three activities: sports classes, academic classes and life skills sessions. Each coach will serve as a teacher for one sport, one academic subject and as a mentor to a specific team of children.
The release this year is a bit sparse, but there is more information on the Coach for College Faceook page, the official website, and on a post here on Pitt student-athletes from last July. Coach for College is a program among ACC schools and other select universities "that brings together US student-athletes and Vietnamese university students to teach academics, sports and life skills at summer camps to children in rural Vietnam."

I Live in Fear (生きものの記録) at Melwood Screening Room, August 5.

The 1955 Akira Kurosawa film I Live in Fear (生きものの記録) will play at the Melwood Screening Room (map) in Oakland on August 5. An overview from a 2002 A.V. Club review:
One of Kurosawa's oddest works, it arrived on the heels of The Seven Samurai, one of his most immediately accessible. Mifune, almost unrecognizable under layers of make-up, stars as a graying patriarch whose fear of nuclear annihilation leads him to make plans to move his large family to a farm in Brazil. Thinking his fears irrational, and expressing grave concern over the dispensation of his estate, they take him to court and, like a good judge, Kurosawa lets both sides exhaust themselves without drawing a premature judgement. Perhaps a bit too loose and leisurely to be entirely effective, Fear still offers a hugely compelling glimpse at the post-war Japanese mindset, and at the Cold War mindset in general. It's also a fine showcase for Kurosawa's nearly unparalleled visual style, and, like its companions in this set, a must-see for the director's admirers even if it's not quite among the very best entries in his formidable filmography.
The film is co-sponsored by Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace as a commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the 6:00 pm screening is followed by an 8:00 pm Skype interview with Japanese students. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles.

"The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Why ASEAN Matters", July 24.

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will present "The U.S. Pivot to Asia: Why ASEAN Matters", a Breakfast Briefing on July 24 with Ambassador (Ret.) David Carden.

Friday, July 18, 2014

First look at Chick'n Bubbly chicken.

First look at Chick'n Bubbly chicken, via its Facebook page:

Chick'n Bubbly is the Korean-style fried chicken place in Oakland, set to open later this summer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Performances of Takasago, Hagoromo by Noh Training Project in Bloomsburg, August 1 and 2.

The Noh Training Project at the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble will perform two Noh plays, Takasago (高砂) and Hagoromo (羽衣), on August 1 and 2. The Noh Training Project runs from July 13 through August 3 in Bloomsburg, PA, and is
a summer three-week intensive, performance-based training in the dance, chant, music and performance history of Japanese classical noh drama. The Noh Training Project offers the most intensive and extensive noh training available in the United States.
As the poster above says, the evening's performances begin at 7:00 pm at the Bloomsburg Town Park Band Shell (map) and will include two plays, Takasago and Hagoromo.

On Saturday the 2nd is a lecture "Stop-Motion Noh: Kawamoto and the Puppet Screen" by Dr. Linda C. Erlich of Case Western University. The talk will take place at the Alvina Krause Theater (map), roughly one mile from the park.

All events are free and open to the public.

Jen-Lei Liao is a large man.

Here is 20-year-old Pirates pitching prospect Jen-Lei Liao (廖任磊) at a New Years Party at Kainan University in Taiwan back in February. Liao currently pitches for Pittsburgh's Gulf Coast League affiliate, and has a 3.12 ERA in six appearances. He's listed at 6'6" 255 lbs. (198 cm, 116 kg).

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AppalAsia live at Marty's Market, July 18.

A performance of "Wild Horse" in 2012, uploaded by erhu player Mimi Jong.

AppalAsia will be performing on Friday, July 18, as part of the monthly "Music @ Marty's" series at Marty's Market in the Strip District. AppalAsia is a Pittsburgh trio featuring an erhu, dulcimer, and banjo that "combines the influences of Appalachian and Asian music traditions with original composition and inspired improvisation to create their unique musical voice". Music @ Marty's events feature music "paired with amazing cuisine influenced by the artist", and Friday's performance will include an "Asian inspired menu".

The event runs from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Tickets are $25 and are available online. Marty's Market is located at 2301 Smallman St. in the Strip District (map).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Back in 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review profiled Bubble Pi, the first---and now third---Asian bakery on Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill (map). The Pittsburgh City-Paper followed a year later. From the latter:
Bubble π has been on Murray Avenue for two years now; before that, Lin operated Asia Tea House, in Schenley Plaza. "I was selling my bubble tea. That was my specialty at the time," she says. Though the tea sold briskly in the warm months, "when it cooled down, nobody bought it. Now I'm more focused on my pastries and designed cakes."

Open seven days a week, Bubble π also offers its namesake beverage -- the fruit- or tea-based drink with tapioca pearls -- as well as coffees, shaved ice and a few simple lunch items.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

K Missing Kings at Hollywood Theater in Dormont, July 19 and 20.

Last month, the Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced on its Facebook page it would be participating in the United States premier of the Japanese animated film K Missing Kings on July 19 and 20. The distributor Eleven Arts provides a brief summary:
Based on the hit anime K, K MISSING KINGS picks up where the series left off. Featuring the same director and scriptwriter as the series, this movie brings the characters that you've grown to love in the same spirit of action, honor, and loyalty. K MISSING KINGS also sees the return of popular voice actors such as Daisuke Namikawa, Daisuke Ono, and Tomokazu Sugita, reprising their roles for the first time on the big screen.

The story starts some time after the Island Academy Incident, in which four of the seven great Kings crossed paths. Since this time, silver clansmen Kuroh Yatogami and Neko have been searching for their master, Yashiro Isana, the Silver King. Their search having turned up fruitless, the two begin to give up hope, until they encounter Anna Kushina and Rikio Kamamoto, two members of the red clan HOMRA being chased by someone.
According to Anime News Network, the movie will have a limited US release from July 18. There are three shows scheduled on the 19th and 20th: Saturday at 7:00 pm, Sunday at 4:00 pm, and Sunday at 7:00 pm. The movie is in Japanese with English subtitles, and the theater will include movie-related giveaways while supplies last.

The theater is located at 1449 Potomac Ave. in Dormont, and is accessible by Pittsburgh's subway/LRT at a block south of Potomac Station. It frequently shows newish Japanese animated films on or near their US release date, including, in recent memory: the Madoka Magica series, Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, and Tiger & Bunny: The Rising.
Are you a native Japanese speakers also active on mTurk? A Pitt grad student is doing a study on language processing, and has an hour-long HIT that pays $5.00.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Road to Ninja coming to Hollywood Theater in August.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced today that it will show Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie on August 29 and 31. Tickets are $12 and are available online for the Friday evening and Sunday afternoon shows. The movie will be dubbed in English.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Gwangju students back in Pittsburgh for language immersion, cultural exchange.

Heading on one former student's travel report.

Students from Gwangju National University of Education (광주교육대학교) in South Korea are back in Pittsburgh for a language immersion and cultural exchange. From June 25 through July 24, 18 education students will attend classes and tour the city under the guidance of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. Other cohorts are visiting California, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, and Japan.

The GPLC hosts these students twice a year, and posts updates on its Facebook page. Readers of Korean can learn more about the trip and the students' experiences by reading the trip reports prepared by the students each term, hosted on the GNUE website. The school magazine also publishes interviews with returning students from time to time, though its website is currently broken.

These training and immersion programs have been going on between GNUE and Pittsburgh since 2009, shortly after Park Nam-gi was named school president. Park earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, and worked two stints as a visiting professor at Pitt in 1999 and 2000-2001. In 2013 he received a University Medallion Award, given to distinguished alumni around the world to mark the 225th anniversary of the University of Pittsburgh's founding.

Via the GPLC GNUE Facebook page.
A slice of mocha cake, from Pink Box Bakery. Pink Box is the "Asian-European fusion" bakery that opened on Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill on July 7. It's from the same Taiwanese family that owns Ramen Bar and Rose Tea Cafe, also in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dragons on the Lake Dragon Boat Festival at Ohio's Portage Lakes State Park, July 12.

The 2014 Dragons on the Lake Dragon Boat Festival will take place on July 12 at Portage Lakes State Park, about two hours northwest of Pittsburgh in New Franklin, Ohio. Dragon boats are 46-foot-long boats with 20 rowers each, and have been a part of southern Chinese culture for some 2500 years. An overview of this festival:
Festival day activities start with a ceremonial eye-dotting “awakening of the dragons.” Once the racing begins, it will be non-stop action with dragon boats heading to the finish line every 12 minutes. The races are fast and furious, typically lasting around two minutes. With entertainment and lots of beach front activities throughout the day Dragons on the Lake Festival will be a summer spectacle for the whole family. Admission is FREE for spectators.
The opening ceremony is at 8:30 am and the festival is held at Turkeyfoot Beach (map). Two Pittsburgh-area teams are competing: the Steel City Dragons Mixed Team and Pink Steel.

Monday, July 7, 2014

And speaking of Sichuan, a new restaurant is coming to Squirrel Hill.

A new facade is up on Forward Ave. in Squirrel Hill: Chengdu Gourmet. Work is still being done on the interior at 5840 Forward Ave. (map), though the restaurant does have a website and a menu.

And speaking of Sichuan, I'll have to check and see if it's a sister location of Sichuan Gourmet further up Murray Ave.--or the result of a split--as Chengdu Gourmet's menu is identical to a previous version of Sichuan Gourmet's. The Chinese name (老四川, Old Sichuan) references the other spot, too, though it's not an uncommon name. Both are regions of China; Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Groundbreaking for Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute held.

Via the Sichuan Daily.

On July 2 in Chengdu, China, a groundbreaking ceremony for Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute (四川大学-匹兹堡学院) was held. Provost Patricia Beeson---third shovel from the left---was among the University of Pittsburgh officials in attendance. Pitt announced its partnership with Sichuan University in the development of a Joint Engineering Institute on April 1, 2013. The institute at Sichuan University's Jiang'an campus is set to open in Fall 2015 with an initial enrollment of 100 undergraduates across three majors.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Scott Kofmehl and "U.S.-Vietnam Relations and the Rebalance to Asia", July 8.

The World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh is presenting a Breakfast Briefing with Dr. Scott Kopfmehl on July 8 titled "U.S.-Vietnam Relations and the Rebalance to Asia". Kofmehl, a Pittsburgh native, is currently Senior Vietnam Desk Officer at the U.S. Department of State.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer at AMC Loews Waterfront.

The 2013 film Snowpiercer, by Korean director Bong Joon-ho, made its US debut last week and is still playing at AMC Loews Waterfront (map).

It stars Song Kang-ho (pictured above) and Chris Evans, though 80% of the film is in English.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pink Box to open July 7.

Posted by the Ramen Bar Facebook page.

Pink Box, the self-described "Asian-European bakery" under construction in Squirrel Hill, will have its grand opening on July 7. It's located at 2107 Murray Ave. (map) 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.

After checking it out while under construction I suspected it was by the same ownership of Ramen Bar (and Rose Tea Cafe), and that the above poster turned up on the Ramen Bar's Facebook page offers confirmation.

Korean-style chicken coming soon to Pittsburgh.

Chick'n Bubbly just posted this to its Facebook page:

Signage went up for Chick'n Bubbly last month at 117 Oakland Ave. (map) in what used to be a nail salon. It would be the first place in Pittsburgh to offer Korean-style fried chicken, which features a "delicate crust, addictive seasoning and moist meat" ubiquitous in restaurants and delivery places in South Korea.

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