Friday, November 9, 2012

KuroKiiro Festival in O'Hara Township, November 16 - 18.



The fourth annual KuroKiiro Festival of Japanese pop culture will be held at the Boyd Community Center (map) in O'Hara Township, November 16 - 18. A press release basically sums it up:
Throughout the weekend, interactive workshops, vendors, and a video gaming area bring elements of classical and modern Japanese culture to life.

The full weekend program targets fans of Japanese animation and pop culture. Featured activities such as a talent show, a dance, and a Japanese fashion show infuse the event with the feel of a school festival. Additionally, Guest of Honor Kyle Hebert will attend on Friday and Saturday to share insights about the localization of Japanese media and the career of voice acting. Hebert is best known for his roles in Japanese animated series "Dragon Ball Z" and "Gurren Lagann" and video games such as "Street Fighter". Recently, he reprised his "Street Fighter" role for Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph". The annual KuroKiiro Cafe, a dancing maid cafe, also returns for two sessions on Saturday morning to introduce guests to the flavor of Tokyo's Akihabara district. This year's featured performing troupe is the Maid of Hearts Cafe.

On Sunday, November 18, the event welcomes the community with a carnival from 11 AM-4:30 PM. The carnival features free giveaways and performances by local cultural groups throughout the day as well as games, crafts and activities for all ages. Other highlights include a Japanese manga reading area and a swap meet.
There's a schedule of events and panel discussions here.

Thoughts on Kizuna Project (絆プロジェクト) in Pittsburgh, November 8.

Japanese Survivors Forum Allderdice Pittsburgh

Last night Allderdice High hosted students and faculty from Hitachi Dai Ni High School, who described their experiences rebuilding and recovering from the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in their prefecture. The Tribune-Review wrote a little about it this morning:
The Kizuna Project has brought 1,000 students from Japan to American high schools, and vice-versa, to “encourage a greater understanding of the youth of Japan and the U.S. by providing a first-hand experience with the culture,” said Noriko Yamamoto.

She is program director of the Grassroots Exchange and Education Program for the Japan Foundation Center, based in Tokyo, which is assisting with the project.

“I hope this exchange will help us understand each other and make a good relationship for us in the future,” Yui said.

The Allderdice students helped raise money for the recovery effort, in part by selling origami paper cranes they made.

Some students who visited Japan said they were amazed at how well the nation recovered.

“I learned the importance of working together with others and not panicking and fretting,” said Brandon Naccarato, 17, of Lawrenceville. “If everyone is calm and working together, we can get together through everything.”
The two-hour event consisted of a performance by Pittsburgh Taiko, two presentations from visiting Japanese high school students about their personal experiences last spring, brief speeches from Allderdice students who visited Japan this summer, a performance of " and light refreshments. One Japanese blogger in Pittsburgh shared her thoughts:
日立の生徒さんたちは主に震災とその後の様子を発表してくれた。私はもともと茨城県の出身なので、日立の震災の写真を見るのはとても辛かった。とくに、崩れ落ちた体育館の写真。北茨城市の五浦六角堂が津波で流されて跡形もなくなり、でもその後寄付で再建されたとの報告も。

ピッツバーグの和太鼓グループの演奏がとてもすばらしかった。日米協会のスタッフによる、ゆかた着付けコーナーもにぎわっていた。(ゆかたの生地の質がとてもよく、感心した。)

高校生同士の交流は、体験する本人にとってはもちろん、その周りの家族、友達、そして今日の私のように報告を聞くだけの立場の「街の人」にとっても、ものすごくインパクトがある。というか、私も16年前は、ミシガン州に行った交換留学生であった。国家防衛費のほんの一部でも高校生交流事業に回して、今以上に交流事業を活発にしたら、戦争はなくなるとかなり真剣に思う。
There were also brief remarks from local politicians, though the event didn't really need to include them. The mayor's office and city council both issued proclamations, but both representatives left before the Japanese students began their presentations, and councilman Corey O'Connor spent more time chatting about his high school coaching career than appreciating the significance of the Kizuna Project. The students and faculty from both schools have worked very hard to create meaningful bonds across borders and cultures, and their results---not drive-by photo-ops---should take center stage.

These particular Hitachi Dai Ni students were in Washington D.C. earlier in their trip, and will head to New York City next.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hong Kong film In the Mood for Love at Pitt's International Week, November 12.



The University of Pittsburgh will be showing In the Mood for Love (花樣年華), an extremely popular Hong Kong film starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. It's part of the university's International Education Week events, and will be shown on Monday, November 12, at 7:00 pm in the O'Hara Student Center (map) room 802 of the William Pitt Union.

You can find trailers and clips online, but for me the most striking part of the film is the soundtrack. Here's the theme:



The final theme is even better. There are international films all week: Il y a longtemps que je t'aime on the 13th, Los abrazos rotos on the 14th, and A Separation on the 15th. International Education Week is a nationwide event and there are movies, lectures, and activites on several campuses throughout western Pennsylvania and indeed throughout the country. Stay tuned for updates this week and next.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Japanese Survivors Forum at Allderdice High School, November 8.

Japanese Survivors Forum Allderdice Pittsburgh

A reminder that the Japanese Survivors Forum---a visit by students from a tsunami-affected region of Japan to Pittsburgh's Allderdice High School---will be held Thursday evening in Squirrel Hill. Here's an excerpt from the Japanese American Society of Pennsylvania's release in September:
Twenty four Japanese students from Hitachi Dai Ni High School in Japan will be visiting Pittsburgh’s Allderdice High school from Nov 7- 10 as part of the high school students volunteers exchange program called the Kizuna project. Hitachi city suffered from the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.
Allderdice students visited Hitachi Dai Ni School for two weeks, helped the city as volunteers and learned about the earthquake affected area and their people this summer. In exchange Japanese students will visit Allderdice to share the real stories of their lives with at a presentation about their experiences and recovery efforts in the area. The presentation is open to the public and begins at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 8, 2012. Pittsburgh Taiko will be participating in the presentation.
More about the Kizuna Project via its webpage.

Karaoke Night with Korean Language Study Group in Pittsburgh, November 10.

The Korean Language Study Group in Pittsburgh will meet for karaoke at Korea Garden on November 10. If you are interested in attending, you will need to RSVP via the group's Meetup.com page.
We are going to Korea garden and they have about 20,000 Korean songs.
And they have more than 2,000 English songs.
Also they have Chinese songs, Japanese songs and other songs.

Please be free to sing any songs in any language if you like.
If the number of RSVP is less than 6 until 11/3, I'll cancel this event.

And the cost for the Karaoke is $35 per hour per room.
So, we will divide this cost by a number of people who are attending.

Before starting Karaoke night, we'll have some Korean food for our dinner there.
Korea Garden, on Semple Street in Oakland, has a couple of rooms above its restaurant for karaoke, or noraebang in Korean. They look more like conference rooms, and the second floor could use a contractor or three, but the place gets decent reviews because it has a respectable selection of Korean, Japanese, and English songs.

Conference room Singing room in Korea Garden.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vietnamese bistro Tan Lac Vien opening in Squirrel Hill.

SDC11071

Squirrel Hill will get a Vietnamese restaurant shortly when Tan Lac Vien opens on 2114 Murray Ave. (map).

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On Thursday I talked with the realtor, who told me the owners also operate a Vietnamese place on Semple Street in Oakland---which would make Azn Bistro the most likely candidate---that the food is really good, and that they're fixing up the interior of what was most recently an Italian restaurant.

Update 11/11/12: Awning up yesterday, and hours posted on the door. looks to be opening soon.

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Japanese film The Makioka Sisters in Pittsburgh, November 4.

The Makioka Sisters

A reminder that the 1983 Japanese film The Makioka Sisters (細雪, Sasame Yuki) will run on Sunday, November 4 as part of the Three Rivers Film Festival. The festival site's says:
Presented in a new, restored 35mm print, this rich, lyrical film centers on the lives of four sisters who have taken on their family’s kimono manufacturing business. Shot in rich, vivid colors, and set in the years leading up to the Pacific War, it's a graceful study of a family at a turning point in history – a poignant evocation of changing times and fading customs. The two oldest sisters are married and according to tradition, the rebellious youngest sister cannot wed until the third, who's terribly shy, finds a husband. Don't miss this gorgeous film on the big screen.
There is only one showing, at the Regent Square Theater (map), at 7:30 pm with tickets available both online and at the door. Here's an English-subtitled trailer:


Artist Masayo Kajimura at Pitt, November 5, 6.


From the "Mono no aware" trailer.

A screening and discussion with German-born artist Masayo Kajimura will take place at the University of Pittsburgh on Monday, November 5. The University Center for International Studies says:
A screening of works and a conversation with Masayo Kajimura, a Berlin-based video and installation artist. In her work Masayo creates a rich multi-layered flow of images that draw on settings and motifs from various global locations and cultural settings. Sharp insights and provocations underlie these evocative, lyrical, and associative projects.
It will run from 1:00 to 3:00 in room 602 of the Cathedral of Learning. The next day she will screen and discuss her short film "Mono no Aware":
Masayo Kajimura, a German-born artist of Japanese descent, will give a talk on her recent film "Mono no Aware." In this presentation, to be held in G 28, Benedum Hall at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6, she will screen a short work "Momo no Aware" and speak on her relationship on Japan and Japanese culture in the context of Asian diaspora. All are welcome to attend.

Pirates Asian-free again after releasing Takahashi.

On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Pirates released pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels in August. He pitched in 9 games with Pittsburgh from August 25 and started well, with six outs in his first 19 pitches, but imploded in his third and fifth appearances.

Takahashi was the third Japanese player in Pirates history: the first was a Masumi Kuwata, a former starting pitcher in Japan well-past his prime when he arrived here; the second was Aki Iwamura, an infielder who in local popular imagination somehow managed to be considered the worst player in one of the worst Pirates seasons.
The North Hills Art Center (map) is having a Chrysanthemum festival on November 3, with a tea ceremony and calligraphy workshop. Registration is required, and it costs $30 to attend both.