Friday, December 19, 2014

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter at Hollywood Theater, March 27.

The Hollywood Theater in Dormont announced today it will show the 2014 film Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter on March 27. A summary from the Sundance Festival homepage:
Kumiko lives in a cluttered, cramped apartment in Tokyo with her pet rabbit, Bunzo. She works as an office lady, robotically preparing tea and fetching dry cleaning for her nitpicky boss. But on her own time, she obsessively watches a well-known American film on a weathered VHS tape. Rewinding and fast-forwarding repeatedly, she meticulously maps out where a briefcase of castaway loot is buried within the fictional film. After hours of intense research—convinced that her destiny depends on finding the money—Kumiko heads to the United States and into the harsh Minnesota winter to search for it.
The American film stars several Japanese actors, including Rinko Kikuchi, and will debut in US theaters in March 2015.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Dress Designs Reflections of Visit to Pitt Nationality Rooms".

Speaking of the Chinese Nationality Room, a Pittsburgh Press article from December 31, 1944 followed dress designer Dorris Varnum [sic] to the Cathedral of Learning to profile "a delightful collection of dresses" inspired by her visit to Pittsburgh. "[T]he dress expressing her notion of the Chinese Memorial classroom" is pictured on the right.
Smooth rayon jersey was the fabric chosen for the print, and black designs are splashed against grounds of pale jade green, lotus blossom and Ming blue.

The black designs could be taken to express one conception of plum blossoms seen on the carved doorframe of the classroom. These blossoms, which grow out of snow and ice, blooming before the winter is past, are Chinese national flowers.

Very appropriately, this bright dress makes its bow during a season of snow and ice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Classical Piano in Performance: The Piano Music of Quentin Kim" at CMU, December 16.

Pianist Nathan Carterette will perform the works of Quentin Kim (김정권) on December 16 at CMU's Kresge Theater (map), to mark the release of the former's CD of Kim's music. From Carterette's site:
To announce the release of my CD recorded last year in Busan, Quentin Kim is coming to Pittsburgh to attend a once-only concert featuring his solo piano works.

The event will be at Kresge Theatre in the Fine Arts Building on the campus of Carnegie-Mellon University, Tuesday December 16 at 2 pm. This event is free and a reception follows.

Included will be his great Sonata in g# minor, Lilies: A Ballad-Fantasy, Springtime Glances, Variations on an Ancient Korean Melody, the Prelude and Fugue in c# minor (dedicated to myself), and other short works.
Please note, elsewhere on Carterette's site and on other event listings the start time is 3:00 pm (map).

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Japan Times profiles Pittsburgh Pirates trainer Kiyoshi Momose.

On December 6, the Japan Times profiled Kiyoshi Momose, a Nagano native who works as a trainer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Momose speaks Japanese, Spanish, and English, and was the strength and conditioning coach for the Major League Baseball squad that toured Japan in November.
Momose is one of several Japanese nationals currently working for MLB clubs as trainers, video coordinators, scouts and, of course, translators. He is one of the more versatile because of his skills in leading exercise and stretching sessions with the players and his language abilities. He has worked stints at the Pirates Academy in the Dominican Republic and has accompanied Pittsburgh scouts to Japan to serve as their advisor and interpreter.

Pirates scouting director Tyrone Brooks said, “Kiyoshi has been a valuable member to our organization these last 14 years, thanks to his ability to be a such a great asset with our major league staff and players, our Latin American players in educating them about proper strength and conditioning methods and in assisting our efforts to make inroads in scouting Japanese baseball.

“His ability to communicate in various languages makes him such a rare commodity, and we thank him for his efforts. His personality and work ethic is so greatly appreciated.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pittsburgh receives delegation from Sister City Wuhan; Mayor Peduto to visit in 2015.

Pittsburgh received a delegation from Wuhan, China, on Friday, according to a December 12 release:
The delegation will meet [Friday] afternoon with Chief of Staff Kevin Acklin, Innovation & Performance Chief Debra Lam, Chief of Urban Affairs Valerie McDonald-Roberts, Chinese entrepreneurs, and community and education leaders from the Pittsburgh region. Michele Heryford, the Managing Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Pittsburgh will be presenting on the educational exchanges. Renee Piechocki, Director of the Office of Public Art for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council will be presenting on the public art scene in Pittsburgh as well as giving the Chinese delegation a public art tour. Other community groups have also supported the planning and welcome for the delegation, including The Idea Foundry and the Pittsburgh Chinese Chamber of Commerce.
And mayor Bill Peduto will travel to Wuhan next year:
The city announced [on Friday] that Mr. Peduto will travel to Wuhan, China, next year to deliver "a keynote address on urban transformation" at a conference in the central Chinese city of 10 million that straddles the Yangtze River.
Pittsburgh and Wuhan have been sister cities since September 1982. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from March 29 of that year mentions some of the similarities between Pittsburgh and "China's steel capital":
The central China city also has a geographic similarity to Pittsburgh--it, too, has three rivers.

Art of Origami: Holiday Edition, downtown, December 20.

"Little Christmas Wreath", by Jeannie Fletcher.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Downtown & Business branch will host "Art of Origami: Holiday Edition" on December 20.
Just in time for the holidays! Join us for an interactive workshop on the art of Origami.

Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding where flat sheets of paper are transformed into simple or elaborate sculptures and arrangements.

Bring in your holiday gift wrap paper for neat holiday themed sculptures!
The event is free, and runs from 2:30 to 3:30 pm at 612 Smithfield St. (map).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) and From Up on Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から) at Row House Cinema from tomorrow through December 18.

Row House Cinema in Lawrenceville will present the GKIDS Animation Festival from December 12 through 18, including two animated films from Japan and Studio Ghibli: 2013's The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語) in its Pittsburgh debut and 2011's From Up On Poppy Hill (コクリコ坂から). The movies will be shown in Japanese with English subtitles.

A.V. Club provides a summary of The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫の物語):
A humble bamboo cutter named Okina (translation: “old man”) happens upon a glowing stalk in the grove near his house. When he investigates, the shimmering tree blossoms reveal a baby nested inside. Believing this discovery to be a gift from the heavens, Okina brings her home to his wife Ouna (“old woman”), with whom he begins to raise the child as their own. Dubbing her “Princess” Kaguya, Ouna and Okina marvel at how rapidly the girl begins to grow, racing from infancy to pre-adolescence in a matter of days.

While Kaguya busies herself with a normal childhood, making friends with the local kids and bonding with an older boy named Sutemaru, her adopted father becomes distracted by Kaguya’s value to him—the bamboo shoot from which she was born begins producing gold. As Kaguya transforms into a teenager, Okina relocates their family to the capital city, where the girl receives lessons on how to be a proper woman, and is celebrated as a rare beauty. When five aggressive suitors come calling—followed by the emperor himself—Kaguya begins to feel trapped, things falling apart as she imagines a different life for herself.
It goes on to say the film has "some of the most beautifully expressive animation that Ghibli (or anyone else) has ever produced".

Wikipedia provides a brief summary of the latter:
Set in 1963 Yokohama, Japan, the film tells the story of Umi Matsuzaki, a high school girl living in a boarding house, Coquelicot Manor. When Umi meets Shun Kazama, a member of the school's newspaper club, they decide to clean up the school's clubhouse, Quartier Latin. However, Tokumaru, the chairman of the local high school and a businessman, intends to demolish the building for redevelopment and Umi and Shun, along with Shirō Mizunuma, must persuade him to reconsider.
And the Pittsburgh City-Paper adds, in a review of the film when it was last here in 2013:
The film's small story is set against a larger cultural one, as Japan transitions from the sorrows and hardships of the last generation's wars to being a modern world power. Nearly every scene contains visual cues that show Japan's mish-mash of old and new, while the story illustrates this new generation, caught between the nostalgic pull of the past and the responsibility of leading this new Japan.
Showtimes are available at the theater's website. The theater is located at 4115 Butler St. (map).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pitt Chronicle on Chinese Nationality Room in Cathedral of Learning.

The Chinese Nationality Room in 1939; via Historic Pittsburgh.

The December 8 issue of the Pitt Chronicle profiles the Chinese Nationality Room, which turns 75 years old this year.
A group of Pitt students from China petitioned the Chinese government in 1920 for a donation to begin fundraising for the room’s development. The Chinese government pledged $5,000 in gold, but the eruption of The Chinese Civil War in China in 1927 put that donation on hold. Not to be dissuaded, the committee of students and Pittsburgh business owners canvassed neighborhoods of Chinese residents up and down the East Coast to solicit donations, eventually raising the initial $5,000 deposit.

Following 15 years of fundraising, the Chinese government in 1935 forwarded its contribution to Pittsburgh, and the room was dedicated four years later. It cost the equivalent of about $250,000 in today’s dollars, and is one of 29 Nationality and Heritage Rooms housed in the Cathedral of Learning. Each represents a different nation or heritage, all of which played a part in the historical development of this region.
A good bit of the history of the China Memorial Room---as it was then called---and its design is available in the October 6, 1939 Dedication Ceremony program, preserved in full by Documenting Pitt. Introducing several pages on the design and decor, the program writes "The design and decoration of this Room attempt to express something of China's 4,000 years of culture and wisdom." It concludes:
The China Memorial Room has been designed, decorated, and furnished with the hope that it will give the people of Chinese descent in Pittsburgh a just reason for pride in their ancestral heritage. At the same time the Committee believes that the Room will command the respect and admiration of all other people in America.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Taikoza to perform at Clarion University Venango College, Penn State Dubois and Fayette campuses, Spring 2015.

The touring Japanese drumming ensemble Taikoza will make several stops in Pennsylvania in 2015: Oil City, Dubois, and Uniontown on this half of the state. From Taikoza's self-introduction:
Taikoza uses the powerful rhythms of the Taiko drums to create an electrifying energy that carries audiences in a new dimension of excitement. The Taiko is a large, barrel-like drum that can fill the air with the sounds of rolling thunder. Roughly translated, Taiko means big drums-and that’s exactly what Taikoza brings. Big Drums, powerful rhythms, and electrifying, room-thumping energy. This exciting group draws from Japan’s rich tradition of music and performance to create a highly visual performance. Drawing from Japan's rich tradition of music and performance, Taikoza has created a new sound using a variety of traditional instruments. In addition to drums of assorted sizes, Taikoza incorporates the shakuhachi, the fue (both bamboo flutes) and the Koto (a 13 string instrument).
The Penn State Dubois show is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, and the Clarion University Venango College show for April 3. Both towns are roughly two hours northwest of Pittsburgh. The Penn State Fayette campus show, in Uniontown, is scheduled for April 7 at 11 am.