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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008

KANSAI: Who & What

German market brings Christmas to Umeda

A Christmas market featuring German-style attractions and products is being held through Dec. 25 at Wonder Square, the inner court of the Umeda Sky Building in Kita Ward, Osaka.

Attractions include a 27-meter-tall Christmas tree illuminated with 100,000 lights and an antique merry-go-round from Germany. Items on sale include a wide range of Christmas ornaments and traditional German handicrafts, as well as sausages, beer, hot spiced wine and smoked ham sandwiches.

The market is open from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from noon to 10 p.m. from Friday to Sunday.

The venue is a 10-minute walk from JR Osaka Station or Umeda Station on the Hankyu railway line.

For more information, or access the venue's Web site at www.skybldg.co.jp/ or contact the organizer at (06) 6440-3901.

New Year tour of Kyoto shrine held in English

A volunteer guide will host an tour in English to celebrate the New Year at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto on Jan. 4.

Guide Paul Satoh will take participants to the shrine in Sakyo Ward to observe the traditional football-like ceremony of "kemari," which started among aristocrats in the Heian Period (794-1192).

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

The fee to make the trip includes ¥500 for transportation, ¥1,000 for lunch and ¥1,000 as a gratuity to the guide.

The tour is reserved for non-Japanese only. Advance applications by fax are required.

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

Hannan University opens for light display

Hannan University in Matsubara, Osaka, is illuminating its campus for public viewing until Dec. 25.

Around 15,000 lights will light up the university's 140-meter main street, while around 6,000 lights installed near Building Six have transformed it into a Christmas tree.

The lights are on from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Entrance is free. The venue is Hannan University's main campus, which is a six-minute walk north of Kawachi Amami Station on the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line. Visit the university's Web site at www2.hannan-u.ac.jp/english/other/map.html to get an access map, or call the organizer at (06) 4391-7156 for more information.

Kansai Canucks invite public to gawk at swim

The Kansai Canadian Association (KCA) 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 around 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 hot soup with rice cakes traditionally served during the New Year holidays.

The organizers urges participants to make a voluntary donation to support the event. The event will be canceled in case of bad weather.

For details and applications to the swim, contact the organizer at (078) 783-5531 (Japan Canada Kai Office), access the KCA Web site at www.kansaicanada.com/ or send an e-mail to mgr@gol.com (KCA).

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