Visitors can help ring in New Year's at temples

In many Buddhist temples across the nation, bells will be rung 108 times from just before midnight on New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day as the sound is believed to repel evil spirits. The temples in Kyoto and Nara are no exception, and some of them even let visitors ring the bells.

For further information, check for Kyoto and for Nara (in Japanese).

‘Karuta’ and ‘kemari’ offered at Kyoto shrines

Visitors to Kyoto can enjoy watching the first performance of the new year of traditional “karuta” card games starting at 1 p.m. on Jan. 3 at Yasaka Shrine and “kemari” ball games from 1:30 p.m. the following day at Shimogamo Shrine.

Yasaka Shrine is a five-minute walk from Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan Line, and Shimogamo Shrine is about a 10-minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan and Eizan Dentetsu lines.

For more information, go to for karuta, and for kemari (in English). The contact numbers are 075-561-6155 and 075-781-0010, respectively.

Kids Plaza Osaka presents traditional program

Kids Plaza Osaka will offer children a chance to watch Japanese traditional performing arts such as “kyogen” (traditional comedy theater), “rakugo” (comic storytelling), “naniwabushi” (Edo Period narrative ballad), and bunraku in early January.

Kyogen will run from 11 a.m. to 11:40 a.m., rakugo from 1 p.m. to 1:40 p.m., and naniwabushi from 3 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. on Jan. 3. Bunraku will be performed between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 5.

Admission to the plaza is ¥1,200 for adults, ¥600 for junior high school and elementary school students, and ¥300 for children aged 3 or over. The venue is close to Ogimachi Station on the Sakaisuji subway line.

For more information, go to (in Japanese). The contact number is 06-6311-6601.

Nagoya Castle to hold New Year’s festival

Nagoya Castle New Year’s Festival will run from Thursday until Feb. 9.

The Honmaru Palace and precious paintings on paper doors and screens will be open to the public during the period. Among the various events on offer, visitors can attend the tea ceremony between Jan. 2 to 5, during which a gold water kettle will be used, and try on kimono on Jan. 26.

Admission is ¥500. For junior high school students and younger children, it is free. The castle is open between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

The castle can be accessed by walking for about five minutes from Shiyakusho Station, which is on the Meijo subway line.

More details can be found at (in Japanese) or by calling 052-231-1700.

Japanese-language lessons offered in Nagoya

Nagoya International Center will host separate Japanese-language classes for adults and children in elementary school and junior high school every Sunday between Jan. 19 and March 30. There will be no class on Feb. 9.

Classes for children will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and for adults from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., noon to 1:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. depending on skill level. Participation is ¥1,000 for children and ¥2,500 for adults. Adults need to pay ¥500 to ¥1,000 extra to purchase teaching materials.

Applications will be accepted from 9:45 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on Jan. 12 for the children’s classes, and between 11 a.m. and noon the same day for the adult classes.

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

To find out more about the classes, check (in English) or call 052-581-5689.

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