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Glow-in-the-dark 'cosmic' ping-pong a smash hit at Osaka bar

Women are seen playing "Cosmic Table Tennis" at a bar in Osaka's Chuo Ward in this photo montage. The trails are the paths of the ping-pong balls, captured by 30-second exposures. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

OSAKA -- Lights out! It's time for a rousing game of table tennis.

Whacking a ping-pong ball back and forth in near total darkness may sound an improbable pastime, but that is exactly what local young people and foreign visitors are showing up to do at the "Bee Rush" bar in Osaka's Namba district.

Of course laying your paddle on the ball isn't all guesswork. In "Cosmic Table Tennis," the ball and table are literally highlighted with fluorescent paint and black light -- a twist on the game devised by the operator of the bar in this western Japan city to give patrons an extra thrill over the usual back-and-forth of table tennis.

According to the Japan Table Tennis Association in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward, the number of players in Japan has risen by about 40,000 in the past five years as Japanese athletes captured medals in the London and Rio Summer Olympics.

"It's one of table tennis' good points that everyone can enjoy it together regardless of ages or sex," said Ichiro Hoshino, a managing director at the national association.

(Japanese original by Kenji Ikai, Osaka Photo Department)

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