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Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007

KANSAI: Who & What

Guided tour to fertility festival in rural Nara

A volunteer guide interpreter is organizing an excursion Feb. 4 for English-speaking foreigners to a shrine in a rural area of Nara Prefecture holding a unique Shinto ritual.

The Onda Matsuri festival at Asuka-ni-imasu Shrine in the village of Asuka is known for its distinctive fertility rituals, in which two people, one wearing the mask of a long-nosed "tengu" goblin and the other the mask of a funny, round-faced woman, will pretend to have their marital copulation in a ritual manner.

Participants will meet guide Paul Satoh at 9:30 a.m. in front of the Kyoto City Tourist Information Office on the second floor of JR Kyoto Station.

The cost will be around 2,800 yen for train fare and lunch. Another 1,000 yen will be accepted as a gratuity.

Reservations must be made in advance. The tour is reserved for non-Japanese only.

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

Afghan kids' drawings of ghosts on display

Drawings by Afghan children will be shown in Kyoto starting Jan. 24.

"Ghosts in Kabul" is an exhibition organized by Like Water Press, a Tokyo-based nonprofit organization. The NPO has been involved in Mobile Image Theater, a project that brings entertainment to children deprived of the pleasure of dreaming because of wars and other extreme conditions. Since 2003, group members have screened their original films for 6,000 children in Afghan refugee camps and elsewhere.

On display are drawings of ghosts by Afghan children whom the group met during its activities. The works not only represent what frightens the children, but the various creatures depicted demonstrate how children can be free and creative even in a harsh environment.

The exhibition will be held at two venues. Kyoto International Community House (Kyoto-shi Kokusai Koryu Kaikan) in Sakyo Ward will showcase more than 200 original drawings and panels from Jan. 24 to Feb. 11, while the Shin-Puh-Kan shopping complex in Nakagyo Ward will display some 160 panels from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4.

The show at KICH will run 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. except Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, when it will be closed, while Shin-Puh-Kan will be open during the same hours every day except Fridays and Saturdays, when it will run until 9 p.m.

Entrance is free.

For more information, call the organizer at (03) 5394-8138 or visit its Web site at www.likewater-press.org/

Ice festival in Kobe next weekend

A festival of ice will take place Jan. 26 to 29 at Rokko Garden Terrace, a sightseeing and shopping facility on Mount Rokko in Nada Ward, Kobe.

The third annual event will feature about 30 ice sculptures alongside a display of drift ice brought in from the Sea of Okhotsk. The sculpture works will be lit up after dark.

The event will run 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. except Jan. 26, when it will start at 5 p.m. On the final day, it will close at 5 p.m.

Admission is 500 yen for junior high school students and older, and is free for younger children.

To get to the venue, take Kobe city bus No. 16 from JR Rokkomichi Station to Rokko Cable Shita bus stop, take the Rokko Cable cable car from there to Rokko Sanjo Station and then take a loop bus to Rokko Garden Terrace.

For more information, call the organizer at (078) 894-2090.

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