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A whale of a Christmas season

by Mariko Kato

This Christmas season, Kanto residents can give their children a special aquatic treat at Kamogawa Sea World. To put visitors in the festive mood, the front square there has been adorned since the beginning of November with aquatic-themed illuminations using around 25,000 light bulbs — and two more special events are planned between Dec 1. and 25.

Well known for its killer whale (shachi) family, the popular Kamogawa Sea World offers dolphin performances, sea-lion shows and a chance to see the animals up close. From Dec. 1 until Christmas Day, visitors can dress up in a Santa Claus or reindeer costume and be kissed by a beluga whale — and have a photo taken as proof (bring your camera and the staff will take the picture). The mistletoe mammal waiting to give you a wet peck on the cheek is a white beluga whale brought to Kamogawa from Hokkaido. You can get up-close and personal after the beluga’s daily performance at 2 p.m. The fee is ¥5,200 per person, and the quota is 10 people per session.

On weekends and special holidays during the festive period, a life-size shachi character named Olutan will wait to challenge you in the central square. When you catch this wandering whale, battle with him in a game of janken (paper, scissors, stone) for the chance to win a prize.

The competitions will take place in the central square from noon on weekends and holidays and will end after 30 winners. Participation is free.

For more information, call (04) 7093-4803 or visit www.kamogawa- seaworld.jp. Kamogawa Sea World is closed Dec. 11-14.