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Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

Get your skates on in the Kanto area

Staff writer

If you've been keeping your eye on the sports pages recently, you'll know that Mao Asada won her third straight National Figure Skating Championship last month and is currently preparing to defend her World Champion title in Los Angeles in March. Maybe you're feeling in the mood for a slide yourself. If so, there are plenty of icy options for you to choose from around the country, but particularly in and around the capital.

News photo
Chill out: An ice rink is open at the Red Brick Warehouse (Akarenga Soko) in Yokohama until Feb. 15. AKARENGA SOKO

One of the more picturesque venues is at the Red Brick Warehouse (Akarenga Soko) on the waterfront at Yokohama. Sliding silently in the shadows of the warehouses that date to 1911 it's easy to imagine you're back in the Taisho Era (1912-26) — as long as you can block out the view of the towers in neighboring Minato Mirai, and the slightly odd video and LED light installation set up to decorate the ice. The rink is open until Feb. 15 and costs ¥500 for adults (¥400 for children and ¥300 for toddlers) plus ¥500 per person to hire skates.

Another temporary outdoor rink has been set up in the Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo's Nerima Ward. It's 24 meters by 42 meters (about the same size as the Akarenga rink), but comes with an imposing visual distraction: Right next to it there's a giant swinging pirate ship ride that is sure to throw you off balance — unless you're as surefooted as Mao. Admission to the park is ¥1,000 (¥500 for children), getting onto the skating rink costs another ¥500 per head, and hiring skates is ¥600 per pair.

Information on the Akarenga rink is at www.yokohama-akarenga.jp and on Toshimaen at www.toshimaen.co.jp. Meijijingu Gaien (www.meijijingugaien.jp), near Sendagaya Station, and Shinyokohama Skate Center (www.princehotels.co.jp/skate/shinyokohama/), in Yokohama, have indoor rinks that offer year-round skating.

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