Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"'Japan is the Key…': Collecting Prints and Ivories, 1900–1920", March 30 to July 21.

Katsushika Hokusai, The poet Sangi Takamura (Ono no Takamura)

The Carnegie Museum of Art in Oakland (map) will run the exhibit "'Japan is the Key…': Collecting Prints and Ivories, 1900–1920" from March 30 through July 21 in Gallery One. The exhibition, to borrow heavily from the CMoA website,
presents highlights from Carnegie Museum of Art’s significant collection of iconic Japanese woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) in an entirely new way, uniting them with Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s holdings of exquisite Japanese carved ivories (okimono). These collections were formed in the early years of the 20th century, motivated by European and North American acceptance of Japan as an emerging modern power, and the aesthetic appeal of Japanese art to artists and collectors. Japan is the Key… tells the story of two very different men who promoted Carnegie Institute’s early interest in Japanese art: poet and critic Sadakichi Hartmann, who masterminded the Department of Fine Arts’ controversial exhibitions of Japanese prints in the first decade of the 20th century; and ketchup magnate H. J. Heinz, who acquired ivories on his world-wide travels on behalf of local industry and religious organizations. This exhibition offers a rare view of this period of cultural interchange through the lens of the personalities that shaped it.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia, April 1 - 26.

2013 Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival Philadelphia

The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia will take place this year from April 1st through 26th. There is a massive amount of events planned around the festival, so browse the website and consider making the drive (or the Megabus) for the weekend. Consider visiting, too, Shufuso, a Japanese garden in Fairmont Park, a short distance from where many of the cherry blossoms are located.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crocodile in the Yangtze and Sushi: The Global Catch at CMU this week.

Crocodile in the Yangtze PittsburghSushi The Global Catch

Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival: Faces of Media runs from March 21 through April 13, and relevant to this site are the two Asian-themed films this weekCrocodile on the Yangtze and Sushi: A Global Catch.

Crocodile on the Yangtze is scheduled for March 22, 7:00 pm, at the McConomy Auditorium, CMU University Center (campus map). The director will attend, says the website. The movie's official website says:
Crocodile in the Yangtze follows China’s first Internet entrepreneur and former English teacher, Jack Ma, as he battles US giant eBay on the way to building China's first global Internet company, Alibaba Group. An independent memoir written, directed and produced by an American who worked in Ma’s comany for eight years, Crocodile in the Yangtze captures the emotional ups and downs of life in a Chinese Internet startup at a time when the Internet brought China face-to-face with the West.
Sushi: The Global Catch is scheduled for March 24, 5:30 pm, at the same place. After the movie is a reception with a presentation by a sushi chef. An NPR review says of the film:
Outlining the process that brings tuna from the boat to the plate is just one of the building blocks of the film's larger argument about the economic and environmental impact of the sushi industry. Although The Global Catch initially considers sushi broadly, it takes the food's ubiquity for granted, merely glancing at its role in the culture and its global culinary influence as it speeds toward its essential focus: conservation.
Tickets for each of these are $8 for regular admission or $5 for seniors and students.

Zenkaikon anime convention in Lancaster, March 22 - 24.

Lancaster will host its annual Zenkaikon anime convention this weekend, March 22 - 24 at the Lancaster County Convention Center (map). "Zenkaikon was created in 2006", says the website,
through the merging of two Philadelphia-area events -- Kosaikon, an anime convention held at Villanova University, and Zentrancon, an anime and science fiction convention held on the University of Pennsylvania campus.
There is a long list of events and guests that looks appealing to all levels of fan and Japanese-cultural enthusiast: rock group The Slants, kimono consultant Kuniko Kanawa, anthropologist Charles Dunbar, Cosplay Burlesque, video game tournaments, karaoke, and live-action role plays, among others. The panels include topics like "A Complete History of Manga", "Beyond Bleeps and Bloops: An Introduction to Video Game Music", and "The Aging Otaku: Fandom and Getting Older", among more specialized ones.

Lancaster is a fine town, and is actually a city of 59,000, and not just a few roads in Amish country. Both it and the surrounding county are worth a visit, and not just in late-March. It's about four hours from Pittsburgh, though is a relatively easy drive from Hershey, Harrisburg, and other points east.

"Malaysian Tea House" at Pitt, March 22.


The Malaysian Cultural Camaraderie (MalaCCa) and Pitt Global Ties are putting on a "Malaysian Tea House" at William Pitt Union on Friday, March 22, from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. From their Facebook Event page:
Come and explore THE BEST STREET FOOD from Malaysia!

Oh, did we tell you they are free? YES, all these food are FREE by Pitt Global Ties and Malacca!

Ice Kacang
Kaya Toast
Tepung Pelita
Indian candies
Teh tarik

Friday, March 15, 2013

1985 anime The Dagger of Kamui (カムイの剣) at Hollywood Theater, March 24.

Dagger of Kamui

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont (map) will show the Japanese anime film The Dagger of Kamui (カムイの剣) on March 24, the latest in their semi-regular Anime Series. The plot summary, from Anime News Network, of the 1985 movie adapted from the novel series:
A young boy named Jiro finds his mother and sister murdered in his home. Falsely accused of the crime, he flees from his village and meets a priest named Tenkai, who has him kill a rogue ninja named Tarouza. After fulfilling that task, Jiro undergoes training to become a master assassin. Many years later, Jiro finds out that he was an orphan and his real father was Tarouza, who had worked for Tenkai until he aborted his mission when he fell in love with an Ainu woman. The young ninja discovers that the Shogunate was to retrieve the lost treasure of Captain Kidd and use it to once again isolate Japan from the rest of the world. Using the clues that Tarouza had kept secret, Jiro - along with the female ninja Oyuki and a slave named Sam - travels to Russia and America to search for the treasure in hopes of using it to extract revenge from Tenkai.
It starts at 2 pm and tickets are $7 for adults.

Pittsburgh Sakura Project 2013 Spring Planting Festival, April 6.

Pittsburgh Sakura Project 2013

The Pittsburgh Sakura Project will hold its annual Spring Planting Festival in North Park on April 6 from 1:00 to 3:00. Since 2009 the Pittsburgh Sakura Project has been planting cherry blossoms and other flowering trees near the Boat House in North Park. About this year's festival the website says:
This year’s event will include hanami (flower viewing, weather permitting) and learning about the trees, planting of approximately 7 trees, tea ceremony, music, and more.
There is another planting day each fall, during which they plant a good many more trees. The website has photos from years past and also the flyer reposted above. For a little more background about the group, we again defer to the website:
We plan to plant 250 ornamental cherry trees around the greater Pittsburgh region over a 10-year period, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Pittsburgh in 1758. Our aim is for lovers of cherry blossoms to enjoy beautiful, mature cherry trees in the Pittsburgh region. The PSP will enable visitors to Allegheny County parks to enjoy the unique scenery of Sakura and strengthen bonds within the local Japanese community by creating a focal point for cultural and personal exchange. By adding the new element of Sakura to existing park scenery, we create a new aesthetic while preserving the woodland scenery, an example of cultural harmony and environmental sustainability for future generations.
North Park Sakura 1
Taken on a rainy day in late March, 2012.

Allegheny County gave permission to the Pittsburgh Sakura Project to plant there in 2008, and while North Park certainly is scenic it would be especially striking to have sakura in a more urban setting, like Schenley Park.

Scouting locations a little while ago.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry at Mercyhurst University, March 22.

The documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry will run on March 22 as part of Mercyhurst University's Maria J. Langer Film Series. The documentary's official website describes the film and subject:
Ai Weiwei is China's most famous international artist, and its most outspoken domestic critic. Against a backdrop of strict censorship and an unresponsive legal system, Ai expresses himself and organizes people through art and social media. In response, Chinese authorities have shut down his blog, beat him up, bulldozed his newly built studio, and held him in secret detention.
It's been in Pittsburgh a few times, and the City Paper wrote of it last year:
Weiwei enjoys fawning attention in the West, particularly for his pointed critiques of his homeland's government, while in Beijing, his celebrity and influence is constantly checked by the authorities.
Mercyhurst is in Erie, and the film will run at the Taylor Little Theater on the northern edge of campus on East 38th Street (map). There are two showtimes, 2:15 and 7:15, and this and the other films in the series are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Korean films The Thieves (도둑들) and Architecture 101 (건축학개론) at Pitt this month.

The Thieves Korean Architecture 101 Korean

The movies The Thieves (도둑들) and Architecture 101 (건축학개론) will comprise this spring's Korean Film Festival at the University of Pittsburgh, now in its 10th year. Both films are new, were successful in Korea, and have found international exposure through large film festivals in London and New York, respectively.

The Thieves is a 2012 comedic action movie---or a "sprawling, relentlessly entertaining thriller", according to the New York Times--- with an ensemble cast featuring several of Korea's top stars. The Korean Film Database summarizes:
In order to let things cool down from their latest heist, Popeye and his group of thieves go to Macao on a job. But the mastermind behind this job is none other than Popeye’s old partner Macao Park, who escaped with 68kg of gold several years ago on their last job together. Macao Park brought Chinese thieves as well but little did they know what Macao Park planned for each one of them. But his plan takes an unexpected turn when Popeye brings Pepsi, an old flame of Macao Park, to settle the old score.
Architecture 101 is a romance that plays with a retro setting, as Wikipedia tells us:
The film reignited 1990s throwback fever among Koreans and made the fashion, music and celebrities of the period cool once again. Songs from the '90s, including duo Exhibition’s "Etude of Memory" were included on the score. Characters also use pagers, hair mousse, and portable CD players. The protagonist is even obsessed with GEUSS T-shirts - counterfeits that were popular among Koreans in the 1990s. Nostalgia-inducing scenes that feature characters expressing awe at a one gigabyte hard drive computer or communicating with each other via landline telephones also brought the audience back in time.
The Korean Film Database again provides a summary:
In his college days, aspiring architect Seung-min (UHM) fell deeply in love with classmate Seo-yeon (HAN). However, fate denied them the opportunity to stay together forever. Now a successful architect, Seung-min has not spoken to Seo-yeon since that time. However, one day she suddenly reappears in his life, asking him to design a replica of her childhood home. Moving back and forth from past to present, the affections and heartaches between Seung-min and Seo-yeon slowly unfold, and it appears that fate may give their love a second chance.
The Thieves plays on March 19, and Architecture 101 on March 26. Both are held in room 4130 Posvar Hall on the Pitt campus (map) at 5:00 pm, and both are free and open to the public. The campus is accessible by any city bus that goes to Oakland, and parking is available at, among other places, meters around Schenley Plaza and the Carnegie Library across the street or in the Meyran Ave. garage two blocks away.

名所フィラデルフィア百景: 100 Famous Views of Philadelphia.


Artist Matthew Meyer is now selling prints from his Japan-inspired "100 Famous Views of Philadelphia". They're amazing, they're in time for Philadelphia's sakura festival next month, and they're for sale on his Etsy page.

The series draws its name from "One Hundred Famous Views of Edo", a famous series of prints from the 19th century that is both vintage postcards and art.