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【POP CULTURE】Jamie on the Go

スパリゾートハワイアンズで出会ったフラガールの笑顔

By Jamie Lano

 福島県いわき市の温泉レジャー施設「スパリゾートハワイアンズ」は、昨年3月11日の東日本大震災と、その1カ月後の震度6強の直下型地震で甚大な被害を受け、全館休業に追い込まれました。長い修復工事を経て今年2月、新築ホテルとともに全館営業再開。施設の象徴であるフラガールほかスタッフの皆さんは、復興に向け決意を新たにしています。ジェイミーは今回、ハワイアンズを訪ね、フラガールのティアレるりかさんからフラダンスを習い、当時と今の心境を伺ってきました。

 Small dancer, big heart! Her stature is tiny, but her impact is big. Here is what Rurika Tiare, a star hula dancer at Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, taught me: Hula dancing is beautiful and hula dancing can heal.

 Located 250 kilometers southwest of the epicenter of last year's March 11 earthquake, the Hawaiian-themed resort, with its many spas and huge water park, had been hit hard by the disaster and the subsequent series of temblors.

 Rurika, a petite woman who barely came up to my shoulders, was nevertheless full of smiles.

 Originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, she has been a hula dancer at Hawaiians for 12 years, the culmination of a lifetime of ballet practice and an intense three-month hula training session. She goes by Rurika Tiare, the Hawaiian name she received when she was promoted to a solo dancer three years ago.

 Rurika told me she loved dancing, but the quake brought everything into focus. "I came to appreciate being a hula dancer more than ever."

 For me, nestled in Tokyo, the quake had been scary, but I can only imagine what it was like this close to the epicenter.

 Some members of the dance team, formed mostly of local women, lost their homes in the tsunami or to the evacuation after the nuclear accident. The resort, located nine kilometers inland, was damaged but not hit by the tsunami.

 The real ordeal for Hawaiians came April 11, when the resort was struck by another big quake centered in Iwaki. This time the resort had no choice but to shut down for major repair work.

 With no stage to call home, the 28-member dance troupe left for a country-wide tour in May.

 The first stops were at local school gyms, temporary homes to hundreds of evacuees. There, Rurika felt a dilemma she'd never experienced before.

 "Hula dancers dance with a smile, right?" she said. "Yet, all around us were refugees, who were exhausted, tired, and aching, and I wondered, 'Is it all right to dance in front of them with carefree smiles on our faces?'

 "But the refugees responded to our smiles by smiling back. I realized that we could heal people's hearts with our dancing!"

 Listening to Rurika's story, I felt like I was going to cry. I love stories like this - people reaching out to others in need, helping them focus on the good, positive things in life. People like Rurika are my heroes!

 After 247 performances on 125 stages, the dancers came home in October. Hawaiians was entirely back in business in February.

 Rurika let me try my hand at hula. How could I resist something that looks happy and carefree, when so much of the country is still gripped in depression?

 I have long legs, two left feet and zero coordination! But I still had a blast!

 That evening I watched the hula performance. The music, the warmth and the smiles, made me feel happy and peaceful. (The fire dancers were awesome, too!)

 Rurika had told me that it was the smiles and the enjoyment of her audience that drew her to dancing. I hope she enjoyed my smile as well, because smile I did. A big, happy, smile.

  • stature 身長
  • epicenter 震源
  • petite (女性が)小柄な
  • barely...shoulders 私の肩までも届かない(ほど小さい)
  • culmination of 〜といった(努力の)結果
  • brought(bring)...focus すべてを明確にした
  • (be) nestled in 〜に住んでいる
  • (be) centered in 〜を中心にした
  • (be) gripped in (痛みなど)〜から逃れられない
  • two...feet (前出の have を伴って)不器用だ
  • coordination 手足をコントロールすること
  • had(have) a blast 最高に楽しんだ

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