Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fukushima’s Hawaii girls go on tour

Hawaii in Japan? If you’ve seen the film Hula Girls then you already know why a remote mining town in Japan boasts a local troupe of hula dancers and a Hawaiian resort , but if you haven’t then you might find this article from the Telegraph interesting.

Spa Resort Hawaiians (スパリゾートハワイアンズ), located in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, opened on January 15, 1966 as the Joban Hawaiian Center, becoming the first theme park in the country.

The resort was a response to the decline of the mining industry in Japan and its impact on the small mining town of Iwaki. The Joban Mine had become the Japan’s largest mine in 1944, but as Japan’s economy shifted from being powered by coal to oil in the 1960s, the mining company president hit upon the idea of using the area’s hot springs to open a Hawaiian themed resort. Instead of hiring outside dancers, the company decided to create its own, and initially trained 18 daughters of the mining company employees. In the very close-knit mining community, entire families would work at the Resort.

The 2006 film Hula Girls was based on the story of the founding of the resort.

The resort has been closed since the Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2011, but the Hula Girls have gone on tour to campaign for the safety of the resort and attract tourist back to the Fukushima area.

Read the full text of the Telegraph article here.