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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2003

KANSAI: Who & What

Canadians invite people to Jan. 1 swim in Kobe: The Kansai Canadian Association is inviting people to take part in -- or simply watch -- a midwinter swim on Jan. 1 at Suma Beach in Kobe.

Participants and spectators for the Polar Bear Swim will meet at 11:30 a.m. at JR Suma Station. Swimmers will be in the sea from noon to 12:30 p.m., supported by lifesavers. The swim will be followed by a barbecue and servings of "zoni," a soup with rice cakes traditionally served during the New Year holidays in Japan. Swimmers will then be invited to a hot spring while other participants will be asked to clean up the beach.

Participation is free. Swimmers are recommended to submit an application beforehand. Spectators do not need to apply.

For applications and more information, call or fax Japan Canada Kai at (078) 783-5531 or the Kansai Canadian Association at (078) 881-2007.

'Thunderbirds' are go at Osaka TV exhibition: An exhibition featuring "Thunderbirds," the cult British TV series from the 1960s, will take place between Jan. 2 and 18 at Hep Hall on the eighth floor of the Hep Five fashion complex in Kita Ward, Osaka.

The Thunderbirds Modern exhibition will look back on this sci-fi puppet action drama from the viewpoint of art and fashion, as well as introducing the series to newcomers. Items on display will include character figures, models of the aircraft and replicas of the background art.

Admission is 500 yen for students from junior high school to university age and 600 yen for adults.

For more information, call the venue at (06) 6313-0501.

Kurd to lead discussion at Talk-no-kai session: Talk-no-kai, a Nara-based citizens' group, will host two English discussion meetings on Jan. 10 at the Nara International Foundation Commemorating the Silk Road Exposition (NIFS) in Nara.

The first session, to be held between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., will be led by Hassan Bevrani, an Iranian student from a Kurdish family. The Kurds are an ethnic group who inhabit parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran but do not have their own state. As part of the discussions, Bevrani will speak about the life, culture and diversity of his people, who, as a minority, have often been oppressed.

The second meeting, between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., will be a free discussion for young people studying English.

Participation is free for students and anyone under 20, and 1,000 yen for other people.

For reservations and more information, call or fax the organizer at (0745) 31-1262.

Foreigners invited to join trips to Kyoto temples :The Guide Interpreter Volunteer Club is organizing two excursions to Kyoto for English-speaking foreigners on Jan. 12 and 18.

On Jan. 12, participants will visit Sennyuji, in the city's Higashiyama Ward, to visit subtemples that represent "shichifukujin," or the seven gods of good luck, and celebrate the New Year.

After the pilgrimage, participants will be able to visit the Tofukuji zen temple or buy some Kiyomizu ceramic ware.

The cost will be around 2,100 yen, including lunch and bus fare. Another 1,000 yen will be requested to support the club's activities.

The Jan. 18 outing is a visit to Sanjusangen-do Hall at Renge-o-in Temple in Higashiyama Ward, known for its 1,001 Buddhist statues. Participants will observe "toshi-ya," an annual archery contest where archers, including young people who have turned 20 during the past year, will try to hit a target 60 meters away.

Participants will later be able to visit other nearby temples and shrines.

The trip will cost around 2,000 yen, including lunch and bus fare, plus the donation of 1,000 yen.

On both days, participants will meet guide Paul Satoh at 9:30 a.m. in front of Kyoto City Tourist Information Office, on the second floor of the JR Kyoto Station building. The excursions are reserved for non-Japanese.

For reservations and more information, fax Satoh at (072) 831-2797.

Senri symposium to mull future of city planning :The Senri Foundation will host an international symposium to discuss the next generation of city planning and how to revive the Kansai region through a strategy of "creative cities" from 10 a.m. on Feb. 8 at the International House, Osaka, in the city's Tennoji Ward.

At the symposium, titled "The Age of the City: The Challenge for Creative Cities," two speakers will discuss the topic. Peter Hall is a professor of planning at the Barlett School of Architecture and Planning, University College London, while Nobuyuki Hata is a professor of cultural policy at Kyoto Tachibana Women's University.

Interpretations into English and Japanese will be provided.

Anyone wishing to attend should apply by sending a postcard, e-mail or fax stating their name, address, age and phone number to the Senri Foundation (Senri Zaidan) at 1-1, Banpaku Koen, Senri, Suita-shi, Osaka-fu, 565-0826. The e-mail address is senri-p@osaka.email.ne.jp and the fax number is (06) 6878-3716. Applications must arrive by Jan. 20.

For more information, call the organizer at (06) 6877-8893.

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