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Seasonal skating with a green mind

by Naoko Kuramochi

If you are searching for family fun during the winter, several skating spots have opened across Japan.

What’s more, many of them are striving to be environmentally conscious.

The Volkswagen skating rink opened Jan. 5 in Tokyo Midtown. This 800-meter-long outdoor rink will be operated from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Feb. 28. Admission costs ¥1,500 (¥1,000 for junior high school students).

A portion of the sales will go to a nonprofit organization, Polar Bears International, which campaigns to protect polar bears against global warming (www.imgjapan.com/rink/).

Akasaka Sacas is running a “green” skating rink in Akasaka until Feb. 28. Admission is ¥1,000 and ¥500 for elementary school students and younger. This year’s rink boasts a nearly 25 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions compared to last year. Opening times vary; the rink closes on Jan. 25 (sacas.net/fuyu09/index.html).

The Omotesando H.I.S. Skating Theater is also running an environmentally conscious rink. The 200-meter-rink uses an artificial ice surface called “Xtraice.” Images of trees along the rink’s wall add a bonus feature by lighting up with the movement of the skaters. The rink is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (till 8 p.m. on Sundays) until Jan. 17 in Tokyo’s Omotesando Hills. Admission is free. (www.omotesando.or.jp/bellsymphony/skating/).

Ice skaters in Kansai can get a taste of winter at Osaka’s Hirakata Park.

The park operates an outdoor ice rink from noon till 5 p.m. until Feb. 28. The rink opens at 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays.

The main rink is 1,430 meters long and admission is ¥600 (¥300 for children) on top of an admission fee to the park.

The rink is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays (www.hirakatapark.co.jp/icesquare/index.php).

In Kobe, the Port Island Sports Center’s ice rink is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until early April (Feb. 6, 20, 26, Apr. 4, till 5 p.m.). The main rink is 1,800 meters. It costs ¥1,400 (¥750 for junior high school students and younger). It closes on Feb. 27, March 27-28, Apr. 3 and Wednesdays except for holidays (www.kobe-psc.jp/top.html).

In Hyogo, Hyogo Prefectural Maruyama River Garden is operating an outdoor ice rink from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. until March 7. It costs ¥500 (¥250 for junior high students and younger). It will close Mondays (maruyamagawa .com/skate.html).