Hula Dancers Reopen Popular Hawaiian-Themed Spa Near Fukushima (PHOTOS)
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In a sartorial departure from the Hazmat suits, a group of Japanese Hula dancers dawned grass skirts and headdresses over the weekend to preside over the reopening of the Spa Resort Hawaiians, a Polynesian-themed retreat 50 miles from the nuclear power station in Fukushima that melted down after an earthquake and tidal wave rocked western Honshu in March.
Prior to the earthquake, the spa was immensely popular with Chinese and Korean travelers, welcoming around 1.5 million people annually, according to The Age. After the disaster, the fear that the Hawaiians would have to be closed loomed large even as its popular dancers toured around the country, performing in evacuation centers.
The so-called "Iwaki Dancers" have been performing at the spa since it was established in the 1960s and are credited with making the retreat a popular destination by acting in the 2006 movie "Hula Girls."
During the earthquake, several of the spa's building were cracked or otherwise damaged. Though the entire spa won't reopen until January, hundreds of thousands of visitors are still expected to return to the popular destination.
"We will aim to restore our place as it used to be in three years," spa president Kazuhiko Saito told the Asahi Shimbun.