Here is a selection of Kyodo News photos taken in Japan and beyond this week.

Passengers warm themselves with kotatsu electric heaters in a train operated by Sanriku Railway in Noda in Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Dec. 19, 2020. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Priests sweep away dust during the "susuharai" year-end cleanup on Dec. 20, 2020, at Izumo Taisha shrine in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

A capybara bathes with yuzu citrus fruit -- a Japanese midwinter tradition -- on Dec. 20, 2020, a day before the winter solstice, at Daisen Tom Sawyer Pasture, a tourist farm in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture, western Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Taro Kono (L), Japanese minister in charge of administrative reform, talks to an artificial intelligence-equipped humanoid robot, named Erica, on Dec. 20, 2020, during a visit to Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Seika, Kyoto Prefecture, western Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Japanese Yaku macaques gather around a bonfire at Japan Monkey Centre in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, on Dec. 20, 2020. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Santa Claus-clad bike riders have a parade in Tokyo on Dec. 20, 2020, ahead of Christmas, as part of a campaign to raise public awareness about child abuse prevention. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The Genbi shinkansen bullet train, featuring modern art both on the exterior and in the interior, arrives at JR Niigata Station following its last run on Dec. 20, 2020. The six-car bullet train, which operated between Niigata and Echigo-Yuzawa stations in Niigata Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, had run mainly on the weekends since April 2016. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Grand champion Hakuho (L) and ozeki Takakeisho practice at a training facility at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo on Dec. 20, 2020, ahead of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament beginning Jan. 10, 2021. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Photo taken from Ichikawa in Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan, shows Saturn (top R) and Jupiter (below) on the night of Dec. 21, 2020, before their closest visible conjunction in about 400 years in the early hours of Dec. 22. To the left is the Tokyo Skytree broadcasting tower. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

High school students pose with the winning work of a contest on creative four-kanji character idioms to characterize the year 2020, following a calligraphy performance in Osaka on Dec. 22, 2020. The work depicts appreciation for medical workers who have been fighting against the novel coronavirus pandemic. Japan's death toll from the virus topped 3,000 the same day. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
A priest wearing a face mask on which the kanji character meaning "smile" is written takes part in an annual ritual at Hiraoka shrine in Higashiosaka, western Japan, on Dec. 23, 2020. Participants in the ritual, live broadcast online, roared with laughter three times to "laugh off" bad things that happened in 2020 ahead of the New Year, while maintaining social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Online retailing company Rakuten Inc. unveils a self-driving merchandise delivery robot in Yokosuka near Tokyo on Dec. 23, 2020. Rakuten aims to commercialize the robot, capable of carrying food and other merchandize weighing up to 30 kilograms, in the first half of 2021 for delivery from supermarkets to individual homes. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

People walk in Nagoya, central Japan, on Christmas Eve on Dec. 24, 2020, wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Japan reported its first cases of the new coronavirus variant spreading in Britain as it confirmed over 3,800 coronavirus cases on Dec. 25, marking a record high for three days in a row. (Kyodo)
Yuzuru Hanyu performs in the men's short program at the national figure skating championships at the Big Hat arena in Nagano, central Japan, on Dec. 25, 2020. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

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Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - December 12~18

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - December 5~11

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - November 28~December 4

Japan and beyond: Week in Photos - November 21~27