Saturday, May 21, 2016

Norwin School District to phase out Japanese program.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote on Friday that the preliminary budget for Norwin School District in 2016-17 calls for the elimination of the middle school Japanese program and an eventual end to high school Japanese in the Westmoreland County school district.
A half-time Japanese language position also will be eliminated at the middle school, with the Japanese teacher continuing to teach classes at the high school, [high school principal Timothy Kotch] said.

Japanese 2, 3 and 4 will be offered at the high school in 2016-17, but the district plans to phase out the Japanese program, Mr. Kotch said.
Two Norwin High School students placed first and second in the Advanced Level of the 2016 High School Japanese Speech Contest held by the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania in March 2016, with another student placing third in the Beginner Level. Norwin students have placed among the top three each year the contest has been held.

Friday, May 20, 2016

National Association of Asian American Professionals spring happy hour, and details of NAAAP Speaker Series, May 26 at Umami.

via Umami Pgh's Facebook page.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals will hold its spring happy hour on May 26 at Umami in Lawrenceville. The event is open to the public, with details available on Facebook. At the happy hour the group will, according to NAAAP Programming Director Steve Larosa,
reveal our plans for a speaker series featuring some of Pittsburgh's successful Asian American female entrepreneurs and innovators. Attendees to the event will have the opportunity to meet some of the speakers we will be featuring, and experience some of Roger Li's superb Japanese cuisine. We also plan to use this event to unveil our plans to start a NAAAP student chapter at the University of Pittsburgh in Fall, 2016.

From that point, once a month for the next five months we will host one of our speakers at a venue TBD. The speakers will be talking about their experiences in entrepreneurship, their successes, struggles and failures, what motivates them to do what they do, as well as answer questions from the audience. The networking event and the following speaker series are free for everyone to attend, and we are hoping this series will help us increase our presence in Pittsburgh, as well as give a friendly boost to our participating speakers.

Our confirmed speakers include: Jasmine Cho (yummyholic)
Priya Amin (Roki)
Nicki Zevola (FutureDerm inc.)
Umami is a newly-opened izakaya (Japanese pub) at 202 38th Street in Lawrenceville (map).

Thursday, May 19, 2016

First look at Tan Izakaya menu.

Tan Izakaya, tentatively scheduled to open later this month at 815 S. Aiken St. in Shadyside (map), posted its menu to its Facebook page yesterday.

Tan Izakaya is a Japanese-style pub, the latest project from Mike Chen of Squirrel Hill's Everyday Noodles. We wrote about the new restaurant in January, and a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profile followed.
Decor will be “very Japanese,” which will include wood accents and will highlight the bar — which makes sense, considering an izakaya is an after-work drinking place, he said. And the drinks he’ll highlight include many variations of sake.

Stocking a sake bar is a challenging task in terms of navigating the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). Since sake is not a popular beverage in Pittsburgh at the moment, he’s having to source from suppliers in Philadelphia and through special orders. Pan will also include amenities like sake storage.

“It’s common in Japan,” he said. “And it’s a great way to keep customers coming back.”

Chengdu Gourmet chef named a top chef by Pittsburgh Magazine; four Asian places make Best Restaurants list.

Pittsburgh Magazine today released a list of six of the city's top chefs "Outstanding in Their Field", a list that includes Wei Zhu of Chengdu Gourmet:
Wei Zhu, chef and owner of Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill, crafts an authentic taste of his homeland with his well-executed menu of classic dishes, but while adhering to tradition he’s forging his own style by looking to contemporary Chinese dining trends and international flavors. “The food here is my style, Wei Zhu’s style,” says Zhu, 49, a native of the city of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province.
. . .
“At other Chinese restaurants, they just make the same dishes. I am always trying to keep updated on what chefs are doing in China,” he says.
An October 2015 piece in Pittsburgh Magazine profiles the restaurant and the chef in fuller detail.

The magazine today also named Chengdu Gourmet, Everyday Noodles (Squirrel Hill), Soba (Shadyside)and umi (Shadyside) to its Best Restaurants 2016 list. It writes that Chengdu Gourmet offers "the most adventurous meal you'll have in Pittsburgh".

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New restoration of 1973 Japanese animated movie Belladonna of Sadness (哀しみのベラドンナ) at Hollywood Theater, May 20 - 22.

The Hollywood Theater will show the a 4K restoration of the 1973 Japanese animated movie Belladonna of Sadness (哀しみのベラドンナ) on May 20, 21, and 22.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

30% off Guerrero Ceramics products through June 5.

Guerrero Ceramics is offering 30% off products through June 5 with promo code CHINA. Artist and arts educator Jeff Guerrero makes Japanese-inspired items:
I study the Japanese language and the Japanese tea ceremony. I'm licensed to study the way of tea by the Urasenke school through the Philadelphia branch.

My interest in Japanese pottery stems from when I first started making pottery. I was fortunate enough to spend considerable time with two celebrated Shigaraki potters during their month-long residency in the studio where I work. Later, I became friends with a Japanese-American potter who taught me much of what I know.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The RiCECOOKERS at Three Rivers Arts Festival, June 9.

via The RiCECOOKERS Facebook page.

The RiCECOOKERS, an indie rock band comprised of four Japanese musicians currently based in New York, will play at the Three Rivers Arts Festival on June 9. The festival website summarizes the group:
The members staked their claim to fame when a famous Japanese film director Yukihiko Tsutsumi saw their performance by chance and immediately decided to use their song for his upcoming television drama series in Japan.

Though their fame grew in Japan at first, they had set their aim to make it in the United States. They have chosen to live in Brooklyn, while continuing to work on creating music and capturing the audience with their authentic, yet multi-faceted music.

Their music is described as “alternative rock”, which is mainly said to have been a product of influence by the grunge music of the 90s. However, they are not the 3-chords-talks-all kind of guys. They have added true musical skills acquired by attending Berklee, as well as adding a hint of Japanese melody. With this recipe, they have evolved the alternative genre to the music for the listeners in 21st century.
The RiCECOOKERS will play from 5:00 to 6:00 pm on the Dollar Bank Main Stage at Point State Park (map). The concert will be free and open to the public, as are all other performances in the festival.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Asian Pacific Heritage Day, Jung-ho Kang Bobblehead Day, August 11 at PNC Park.

August 11 will be Asian Pacific Heritage Day at PNC Park. The first 20,000 fans will receive Jung-ho Kang Bobbleheads. Kang (강정호) is an third baseman from South Korea who has made a big impact in just over one season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is the second Korean to play for Pittsburgh in the regular season, and the first position player to do so.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finding Mr. Right 2 (北京遇上西雅图 2) in Pittsburgh through May 18.

The 2016 Chinese movie Finding Mr. Right 2 (北京遇上西雅图), also called Beijing Meets Seattle II: Book of Love, will play at the AMC Loews Waterfront theater through May 18.

Did you know the local "In God We Trust" politician wrote an insightful book on North Korea?

State representative Richard Saccone is in the news again for his quest to put "In God We Trust" in American classrooms. The Saint Vincent College professor and Pittsburgh native has been on this mission since 2013, he is best known to this site for his 2006 book Living With The Enemy about his year living and working in North Korea (which followed 13 years in South Korea). The title is facetious, and it's a book on the country that, uncommonly for the genre, provides insight without being judgmental or condescending. "My intention is for the reader", he writes on page 8,
to come away with a better understanding of the people of North Korea. My experience confirmed the most effective way to deal with North Koreans is to suspend our preconceived judgment for a moment and attempt to think as they do, to understand their perspective more clearly.