After rituals and traditional songs were offered to the god of the ocean, children rush into the water. An excited child says, “It is great to see beautiful corals and fish. I want to swim a lot.” A mother of an infant hopes her daughter will grow up to become an upbeat person. (Makoto Hokao)

AMAMI, Kagoshima Prefecture--Braving a slight chill in the air, dozens of sun worshippers took a dip in the waters off Amami-Oshima island to kick off the official opening of Yoan beach on April 7.

While the mercury rose to about 24 degrees on the day, and 22 degrees in the sea, children seemed to have little care for the temperature during their first swim of the season, saying, "We love the beautiful ocean."

After Shinto rituals and "Shimauta" traditional island songs were offered to the god of the ocean, about 30 local elementary and junior high school students jumped into the ocean, splashing water on each other, with some riding a banana-shaped boat.

According to the old calendar, it was March 3, or Girl's Day. A traditional ritual was also held at the beach whereby the feet of female babies born in the past year were dipped in seawater in a wish for good health.

Beach-goers can enjoy bathing in the ocean here through October.