TOKYO (Reuters) – Dressed in a Santa Claus costume, a mask and flippers, a diver waved through a curtain of tropical fish in a Tokyo aquarium at socially distanced spectators watching from behind glass.
Continuing a more-than 20-year-old tradition at the Sunshine Aquarium, she held a Christmas wreath aloft as banana fish and a stingray swam by unperturbed, and used a bazooka-shaped feeder to shoot out pellets for them to feast on.
“To be honest, I thought how can you swim in that outfit?” 42-year-old Keiichi Matsumura, visiting with his wife and four-year-old son, told Reuters after seeing the show, which will continue until Christmas Day.
For Tokyo resident Ayami Kobayashi, 35, the entertainment was all the more welcome in a year overshadowed by a pandemic.
“Seeing the fish made me relax. I know it’s difficult to hold events like these because of the coronavirus situation, but I’m grateful they still held the event,” she said.
Started in 1999, the Christmas show has taken place almost every year since.
This year, as daily infection rates inch higher across Japan, the aquarium has hosted the event on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only, and placed strict limits on visitor numbers.
(This story corrects byline and reporting credit)
(Reporting by Hideto Sakai; Writing by Sakura Murakami; editing by John Stonestreet)