Akihabara to host 'Hula Girls Koshien'
BY IPPEI NAKATA STAFF WRITER
A former "Hula Girl," Junko Azuma (front), gives high school girls pointers on how to dance at the Akiba Square building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Ippei Nakata)High school hula dancers practice (Ippei Nakata)
High school girls from around Japan will compete at the first Hula Girls Koshien contest at the Akiba Square building in front of Tokyo's JR Akihabara Station on Sept. 4.
The competition was supposed to be hosted by Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, where the 2006 Japanese movie "Hula Girls" was set, on March 23 but was postponed because of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Girls from 13 high schools will compete. A joint practice session to help participants improve their skills and get to know each other was held on Aug. 22 at the Akihabara venue, with one of the original Hula Girls, Junko Azuma, providing instruction.
Eleven students from Tokyo's Asakusa Senior High School in Tokyo, Hanyu Daiichi Senior High School in Saitama Prefecture, and the Saitama Prefectural High School of the Arts attended the session.
Azuma, 44, was a former member of the hula dancers at the Joban Hawaiian Center resort, the forerunner of the Spa Resort Hawaiians, who were known as the "Hula Girls."
"Take a strong step," she told the students, "Stretch your leg slowly."
Erika Hirano, 16, a first-year student at the Asakusa Senior High School, said: "I want to give an energetic performance and make the audience want to dance along."
Rio Yoshida, 18, from Hanyu Daiichi Senior High School, said: "I want to enliven the mood at the event because the idea is to encourage reconstruction (following the earthquake). We practiced really hard, and we want to win the contest."
The movie "Hula Girls" is based on the true story of the creation of the Joban Hawaiian Center resort.
"Iwaki, whose main industry was coal mining, began to die in the 10 years after 1965," Kenichi Yoshida, the 39-year-old head of the competition's organizing committee said. "We managed to overcome the crisis by establishing the Hawaiian Center offering hula dance shows."
The city now finds itself in a new crisis because of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, immediately to its north.
"Like the Hula Girls who built the foundation for the revival of Iwaki, we expect the students who dance hula to be 'the symbol of reconstruction,'" Yoshida said.
The organizing committee was forced to move the event in the wake of the March 11 disaster, and decided on Tokyo because members wanted to get as much publicity as possible for the difficulties of Iwaki.
The event, which takes the "Koshien" part of its name from the national high school baseball tournament, will open at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 4. The competition itself will start at 1 p.m. Admission is free. There are 350 seats as well as standing room.
A special event will also be held on Sept. 3 at the venue, with locally grown vegetables and other items from the Iwaki area on sale.
For more information, visit (http://www.hula-girls.net/index.html).
Iwaki 市: Memories, Washed Away/Iwaki once again finds hope through its "Hula Girls"
The Fair Trade Commission on Thursday searched offices of Yamada Denki
Co., the nation's largest chain of large-scale appliance and
electronics retailers, on suspicion that it demanded suppliers to
provide workers, in violation of the Antimonopoly Law.
The FTC believes the Maebashi-based company illegally pressured
manufacturers and other suppliers to provide staff to work as de facto
sales clerks in its stores. The FTC searched for evidence in the
chain's head office in the capital of Gunma Prefecture and some
VOX POPULI: Iwaki once again finds hope through its "Hula Girls"
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.
The 2006 Japanese movie "Hula Girls" is set in a decaying coal mining town in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in the 1960s. Based on the real-life Joban Hawaiian Center resort that opened in Iwaki in 1966, the town is planning to build a mock-Hawaiian resort, and a young woman (Yu Aoi) is interested in responding to a recruitment ad for hula dancers. She tells her mother (Junko Fuji) so during supper, but the mother admonishes her sternly: "Forget it. Hawaii in these boonies here in the northeast? Ain't happening."
But the struggling town sees its only hope of survival in the Joban Hawaiian Center, which will use the region's natural hot springs. Miners' daughters get busy practicing hula dancing, but many locals remain hostile to this new project because it only suggests the imminent closure of the coal mines.
A hula dance instructor arrives from Tokyo and makes an impassioned appeal: "You've got to understand that these girls are determined to save the community. That's why they've become such accomplished dancers."
The ardor of the project's supporters gradually turns nonbelievers into believers, and this "Hawaii of the Tohoku Region" blossomed into a successful venture. It has since been renamed Spa Resort Hawaiians, and attracts about 1.5 million visitors a year.
Then the March 11 quake and tsunami struck, followed by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster 50 kilometers away. Spa Resort Hawaiians has been temporary shut down, and this is said to represent a worse crisis for the locals than when the coal mines closed.
About 30 hula girls, now out of work, will shortly begin performing in the Tokyo area and some parts of the Tohoku region, and later tour the nation. The last nationwide tour was just before the opening of the Joban Hawaiian Center, and it was to promote the new facility. The current tour will enable the dancers and disaster survivors to renew their resolve to revive their communities.
What transformed Iwaki's coal-sludge heaps into a tourist resort was the miners' sense of impending doom for their families and communities because of the moribund coal industry. Today, unfounded rumors of radioactive fallout are their bane. These people were made to pay--and are still being made to pay--for the nation's energy policy. My heart goes out to them.
Getting over the quake and tsunami damage will require far greater energy than developing a coal production center. The people of Iwaki will probably derive their energy from their love of family and community, but outsiders could also provide invaluable help, as did the hula dance instructor from Tokyo in the movie. And the greatest source of energy must lie in the town's young people, who must see their own future overlapping the nation's future. They will be like those hula girls who danced to revive their dying town.
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 9
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起碼 Iwaki 市我造訪過 (約1992)
我查Wikipedia 才知道它原先的漢字 不過它們可能是錯誤的 "岩樹" 是另一說法
The forms いわき, 石城, 岩城, and 磐城 are all ways of writing "Iwaki," which means "rocky castle". Today, いわき is the most common written form. Iwaki, Fukushima - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - [ 翻譯此頁 ]Iwaki (いわき市, Iwaki-shi) is a city located in the southern part of the Hamadōri coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. ...