Come laugh your heads off at Osaka shrine

Visitors to Hiraoka Jinja Shrine in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, can join in the laughing ceremony Tuesday to welcome a more joyous new year.

During the free event, which starts at 10 a.m., priests will encourage attendees to laugh for about 20 minutes. There will also be a laughing contest from 11 a.m. in which anyone can take part.

The shrine is close to Hiraoka Station on the Kintetsu Nara line.

For additional information, visit www.hiraoka-jinja.org/special/2012-owarai-shinji.html (in Japanese) or call (072) 981-4177.

Kyoto student orchestra to play ‘The Nutcracker’

An orchestra for music majors run by Kyoto City University of Arts, will perform “The Nutcracker” and other pieces at a free concert in Kyoto from 2 p.m. on Sunday.

However, children below elementary school age will not be allowed to attend.

The venue, Nishi Bunka Kaikan Westy, is a 15-minute walk from Kamikatsura Station on the Hankyu Arashiyama Line.

For more information, check www.kyoto-ongeibun.jp/westy/business.php?y=2012&m=12 (in Japanese) or call (075) 394-2005.

‘Karuta’ card sharks to test reflexes in Kyoto

Women wearing 12-layer kimono from the Heian Period will complete in traditional “karuta” card games at Yasaka Jinja Shrine in Kyoto on Jan. 3.

The event will start at 1 p.m. and admission is free. The shrine is a seven-minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line.

For more information, go to web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/org/yasaka/english/event/index.html (in English) or call (075) 561-6155.

Chance to ring the bells at Nagoya temples

For a small fee, visitors to four temples in Nagoya will be able to ring the temples’ big bells during the traditional New Year’s Eve event.

Bell ringing will start at 11:45 p.m. on New Year’s Eve (¥100) at Yagoto Koshoji, 11:45 p.m. at Kasadera Kannon (¥300), midnight at Higashi Betsuin (free) and midnight at Arako Kannon (¥500).

Yagoto Koshoji is close to Yagoto Station on the Tsurumai and Meijo subway lines. Kasadera Kannon is about a three-minute walk from Motokasadera Station on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line. Higashi Betsuin is a three-minute walk from Higashi Betsuin Station on the Meijo subway line, and Arako Kannon is a nine-minute walk from Takabata Station on the Higashiyama subway line.

For more information, go to www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/japanese/nicnews/archives/13837 (Japanese/English).

Japanese course for foreigners in Nagoya

The Nagoya International Center will offer foreign residents a course of Japanese lessons between January and March.

Some of the classes will be for speaking the language and others will concentrate on writing. They will start at either 10 a.m., noon or 2 p.m. every Sunday between Jan. 20 and Mar. 31. No classes are scheduled for Feb. 10.

Those wishing to attend are required to visit the center from 11:30 a.m. to noon on Jan. 13 to apply and also to take a short interview.

Participation will cost ¥2,500 for the series in addition to the textbook fee. Participants must be older than junior high school age.

The center is about a seven-minute walk from Nagoya Station.

For more information, go to www.nic-nagoya.or.jp/nihongonokai/ (in English) or call (052) 581-5689.