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In above their heads? New Japan aquarium employees get underwater entrance ceremony

New Toba Aquarium employees receive letters of appointment at a company entrance ceremony in a fish tank in the city of Toba, Mie Prefecture, on March 31, 2020. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

TOBA, Mie -- Four new employees at Toba Aquarium in this central Japanese city might have felt they were in a little over their heads during their March 31 company entrance ceremony, which was held in one of the facility's fish tanks.

The four, all licensed divers, were among seven new hires. They received their official appointments against a coral reef backdrop and accompanied by the about 3,000 denizens of the tank, including balloon fish and green turtles. They dressed in suits and carried air tanks that all had a special sticker indicating their "beginner" status. Aquarium director Kanau Okude faced the tank from the observation area and read out the letters of appointment.

Nami Muramatsu, 22, who represented new employees, said, "I will try hard to be a qualified keeper as soon as possible so as to build a bridge between the animals and the visitors."

The four then cleaned the acrylic wall of the tank with sponges -- their first task.

The annual event was smaller than normal this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and only seven family members of new employees and the first 31 visitors to the aquarium were in attendance.

(Japanese original by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group)

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