Student hula adds glamour to beach opening in Iwaki(魅力発信「海開き」)

About 50 high school students dance hula on Nakoso beach in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 16.(海開きに花を添えたフラガールズ甲子園出場校の高校生総勢約50人によるフラダンス=16日、いわき市・勿来海水浴場)

 IWAKI, Fukushima -- This year's beach season started on July 16 at Nakoso and Yotsukura beaches in Iwaki, only two out of 18 beaches in Fukushima Prefecture. The rest have yet to reopen as a result of the tsunami and nuclear disasters. Young people and families, who had longed for the season to come, enjoyed playing on the sand and swimming at the main beach of Nakoso.


 Sumire Sakamoto, a member of the sightseeing promotion group Sunshine Guide Iwaki, declared the opening of the season at the opening ceremony on Nakoso beach. She participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Toshio Shimizu, the mayor of Iwaki.


 After that, about 50 students from four high schools danced hula. The students will perform in a national high school competition called Hula Girls Koushien in August. Usually only one high school is involved in the ceremony. But this year, to commemorate the city's 50th anniversary, four schools performed for the first time, bringing a touch of glamour to the opening.


 "[The effects of the nuclear accident] are something to worry about. However, I came because a local friend told me the beach is clean now. I'm glad to see my child experiencing the beach," said Naoko Hayasaka, a native of Iwaki who traveled from Gunma Prefecture with two family members.


 According to Iwaki's municipal government, opening ceremonies were held at only two beaches out of 10 in the city. Preparations to reopen the other eight are under way, such as building embankments and other measures.
 When they reopen will be decided based on how much sand remains on the beaches. It is uncertain, however, how the preparations will progress, as some areas are conducting land readjustment projects for town reconstruction following the Great East Japan Earthquake.


 The Fukushima prefectural government and the Iwaki municipal government have confirmed the safety of the eight beaches through monitoring of both water and environmental radiation since May. For water radiation monitoring, sea water samples were taken from a depth of one meter to check for transparency, oil slicks, radioactive cesium, tritium and other factors.
 The governments will measure air radiation levels at the two newly reopened beaches until Aug. 16, the end of the season. The measurements are scheduled for 9 a.m. and noon and are displayed on bulletin boards.


 It is difficult to tell when Haragamaobama beach in Soma will reopen. It was popular among residents in the northern part of the prefecture before the earthquake, yet still suffers from the impact of the tsunami.

( Translated by The Japan News )