KANSAI: Who & What

30 travelers a day can win Seto bridge pass: Every tourist who crosses the Seto Ohashi Bridge will have a chance to win, via a drawing, a prepaid expressway card between April 29 and May 5.

Seto Ohashi, touted as the world’s longest combined road and railway bridge, spans the Seto Inland Sea to connect Okayama Prefecture with Kagawa Prefecture. The area is known for its moderate climate and thousands of scenic islets.

The drawing will take place every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Seto Ohashi Fisherman’s Wharf, a facility for tourists with restaurants and souvenir shops on Yoshima, the only island that people can access on the bridge.

Travelers who wish to take part in the drawing should show their toll receipt or ETC (Electric Toll Collection System) card. The result of the drawing will immediately be known. Each day, 30 tourists will win the expressway card with the value of 5,000 yen, which is a little more than the one-way toll for the bridge.

On the first day of the campaign, there will be a “taiko” drum performance, and the first 200 visitors at the drawing site will receive a package of “udon” noodles, a popular product of Kagawa. These opening events will begin at 9:40 a.m.

For more information, call the Kagawa Prefectural Government’s transport policy department at (087) 832-3134.

Kyoto foundation hosts Korean drum class: The Kyoto City International Foundation is seeking participants for its course in playing the “changgo,” a Korean traditional drum, beginning May 13 at its base in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto.

The changgo, one of the most popular traditional Korean musical instruments, is an hourglass-shaped drum with a wooden body and two drumheads. During the eight-session course, which is mainly targeted at non-Japanese residents, participants will learn some beginner-level musical pieces in order to hold a mini-concert on the final day.

The class will be held every Thursday till July 1 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Eight people will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The fee for the course is 4,000 yen for both non-Japanese and Japanese.

Applications should be made at the organizer’s facility (Kyoto-shi Kokusai Koryu Kaikan), which is a six-minute walk from Keage Station on the Tozai subway line.

For more information, call the organizer at (075) 752-3511.

Volunteer guides plan Kyoto tours in May: The Guide Interpreter Volunteer Club is organizing three excursions to Kyoto for English-speaking foreigners next month.

The May 5 outing will take in Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto’s Kita Ward to observe a “kurabe-uma” traditional Japanese horse-racing. Riders in historical costumes will be divided into two teams, red and black, and 10 horses from each team will compete one-on-one. The race dates to the 11th century and is still held annually as part of the Aoi Matsuri, or Hollyhock Festival, one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto.

On May 15, participants will travel to Kyoto’s Kamigyo Ward to see the climax of the Aoi Matsuri, a pageant of people dressed in ancient court costumes from the Heian Period. Participants will view the parade from an observation point on Maruta-machi Street, near the Old Imperial Palace. After the procession, the group will visit Heian Shrine, Nijo Castle or a handicraft center.

The tour on May 16 will take participants to Arashiyama, a scenic area in the western part of Kyoto, to observe the boat parade in the Mifune Matsuri festival. A fleet of around 30 colorful boats will set off upstream from Arashiyama on the Oi River. People on board will be dressed as ancient court nobles and give such performances as chanting noh dramas, reading poems and dancing. Participants will also visit Tenryuji Zen temple and walk around the area’s bamboo forest.

For each outing, participants will have to pay the actual cost of transportation, which ranges between 500 yen and 800 yen, and their own lunch. Plus, another 1,000 yen will be asked to support the nonprofit club’s activities.

The meeting time and place are the same for all excursions. Participants will meet guide Paul Satoh at 9:30 a.m. in front of Kyoto City Tourist Information Office on the second floor of the JR Kyoto Station building.

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