A 30-year-old giant panda and his 8-year-old Japan-born female twins arrived in China on Wednesday night after spending years at a zoo in western Japan under a joint breeding program with the two countries.

Eimei and twins Ouhin and Touhin flew from Kansai airport in Osaka Prefecture on a charter plane after they had been transported from Adventure World zoo and amusement park in Wakayama Prefecture.

Cages carrying giant pandas (from L to R) Ouhin, Touhin and Eimei are secured on a truck at Adventure World in Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, on Feb. 22, 2023, in preparation for their departure for China. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
Eimei, one of three giant pandas at Adventure World in Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, flying to China, enjoys his bamboo meal on his final day for public viewing on Feb. 21, 2023. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Their transfer to China follows that of Xiang Xiang, a hugely popular Japanese-born female giant panda, from Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo the previous day.

The three pandas were sent off from the park in Wakayama with signs written in Chinese that read, "Thank you, Eimei" and "Take care, Ouhin and Touhin."

Of the 16 cubs fathered by Eimei, 11 have since been sent to China. He has more than 20 descendants.

With the departure of Eimei and the twins, the park now has four pandas.

In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, a supermarket of Japan's Ito-Yokado Co. began selling panda-shaped sushi and steamed buns Wednesday, while postcards featuring Xiang Xiang proved popular at a local store run by China Post Group Corp. with "welcome" banners set up at the outlet.

Yoshitaka Yamamoto, 51, an Ito-Yokado official in Chengdu, said the company is eager to help deepen Japan-China exchanges through pandas.

A 25-year-old worker at the store selling the panda postcards said, "I hope many Japanese people will come. I want to study Japanese so that I can give explanations about pandas in the language."

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