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Sunday, Dec. 23, 2007

KANSAI: Who & What

Christmas concerts to be held at Biwako Hall

Biwako Hall in Shiga Prefecture is organizing Christmas concerts in its main lobby on Dec. 25 from 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Masahiro Ozaki will be conducting and Yoko Sanari will be playing piano and organ. Biwako Hall Vocal Emsemble will sing Christmas songs, such as "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "Silent Night," and "Jingle Bells." There will be a singing session together with audience.

Admission is free and no reservation is required. Each concert is 30 minutes long.

The venue is a 20-minute walk northeast of Otsu Station on JR Biwako Line, or a three-minute walk north of Ishiba Station on Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line.

For more information, contact the hall office at (077) 523-7152.

Participants sought for frigid 'polar bear swim'

The Kansai Canadian Association is inviting people to take part in or merely watch a midwinter swim on Jan. 1 at the beach in Azure Maiko, a seaside park in Tarumi Ward, Kobe.

The "polar bear swim" is a Canadian tradition held on New Year's Day. Participants and spectators will meet at 11:30 a.m. at the ticket gate of JR Maiko Station. Swimmers will be in the sea from noon to 12:30 p.m., supported by volunteers from the Kobe Lifesaving Club.

The swim will be followed by a barbecue and servings of "zoni," a soup with rice cakes traditionally served during the New Year holidays.

Participation is free.

For more information and applications to the swim, contact the organizer at (078) 783-5531, or e-mail kawaijck@nifty.com

Tennoji zoo, park plan New Year festivities

Tennoji Zoo and Tennoji Park in Tennoji Ward, Osaka, will be holding New Year events in January.

On Jan. 2 and 3, visitors are offered an original calendar of the zoo designed by Kunio Sato, an illustrator for NHK's popular TV animation series "Do Re Mi Fa Donuts!" Five hundred calendars will be given each day on a first-come first-served basis.

Mochitsuki (rice cake pounding) will be held from 1 p.m. on Jan. 3. Prepared mochi will be offered to visitors in front of Shirayukihime (Snow White) Clock Tower in the zoo. This event will end when all rice cakes are given away.

On Jan. 5 and 6, traditional New Year's games such as a spinning top and Hanetsuki (Japanese badminton) will be introduced. Anyone can join and play the games, in an open air space in front of Tennoji Gate of Tennoji Park on Jan. 5, and in front of the Moukinsha (Bird of Prey cage) in the zoo on Jan. 6.

The zoo and the park are a five-minute walk from Doubutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji subway line or JR Tennoji Station. Admission to the zoo is ¥500 for adult and free for junior high school students and younger. Admission to the park is ¥150 for adult and free for junior high students and younger. The hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The zoo and the park will be closed from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1.

For more information, contact the zoo at (06) 6771-8401.

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