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Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004

KANSAI: Who & What

Special penguin exhibit at Kaiyukan aquarium: Kaiyukan aquarium in Minato Ward, Osaka, will be displaying penguins in an open-air cage from Thursday to Feb. 13.

Some seven king penguins, one of the three species shown at Kaiyukan, will be housed in a special cage in front of the aquarium building. Usually, the Antarctic birds are kept in a huge tank inside the building.

In addition, the birds will occasionally get the opportunity to leave the open-air, snow-carpeted cage and take a walk to another display area where their keepers will introduce them and answer questions. There will be no fence along the 60-meter course and visitors can get as close as 1 meter while the flightless birds toddle around.

The penguins will be shown outdoors every day from Thursday to Jan. 4, and on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays starting Jan. 8. There will be no display or walk from Jan. 5 to 7. The display will run between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The 20-minute procession will be made three times a day until Jan. 4, at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., and from Jan. 8, two times a day at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The event is free of charge.

The aquarium is a five-minute walk from Osaka-ko Station on the Chuo subway line.

For more information, call the organizer at (06) 6576-5501.

Nunobiki Herb Park staging holiday events: Nunobiki Herb Park in Chuo Ward, Kobe, will extend its hours from Thursday to Saturday.

The park grows about 75,000 herbs of some 200 different varieties on a mountain slope, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. over the three days.

The park is now displaying a Christmas tree and will light it up at 4:30 p.m. every day through Saturday and will hold Christmas concerts at 2 p.m. Sunday, Thursday and Dec. 26.

After Christmas, the park is planning to celebrate New Year's by opening the gate at 6 a.m. for visitors to observe the first sunrise of the year on Jan. 1. The sun is expected to come up at around 7 a.m. Visitors will be offered sake, and a concert featuring Japanese New Year's songs will be held at 7:30 a.m.

Also, from Jan. 8 to 10, visitors will be offered "nanakusagayu" rice porridge with herbs, a Japanese New Year's dish.

All these events are free of charge, but the entrance fee to the park will be enforced -- 200 yen for adults and 100 yen for elementary school and junior high school children. The park will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except for the period mentioned above.

To get to the park, take the Shin-Kobe Ropeway to Nunobiki Herb-en Station from Kitano 1-chome Station, which is a five-minute walk from JR Shin-Kobe Station and the Shin-Kobe subway station.

For more information, call the park at (078) 271-1131.

Persian lessons offered in Kobe: Students are being sought for a Persian-language course starting Jan. 14 at Kobe Asian Plaza in Nagata Ward.

The weekly, 10-session course for beginners will be led by Fahimeh Gasemi of Iran, who studies environmental law at Kobe University's graduate school. Iran is known as the core of the ancient empire of Persia and for the production of carpets and other luxurious fabrics.

The session will be held every Friday from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and will cover basic skills from greetings to shopping conversations.

The fee for the entire course is 8,400 yen. About 20 people will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

For applications, call the organizer, a semigovernmental organization in Kobe City Hall, at (078) 646-7100.

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