Big Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…

By on December 25, 2008

Photo © Elena Derevstova

It‘s seven in the morning, the temperature is a measly 2 degrees and we are sporting swimming costumes. Admittedly our costumes are under several layers of fleeces and tracksuit bottoms. We are off to the big surf courtesy of Spa Resort Hawaiians. You may have seen the 2006 Full Monty-esque ‘Hula Girls’. The true story of bringing Hawaii to the drabness of Fukushima. The resort’s surprise success sparked a spectacular financial and cultural boost to the small mining community whose livelihood had all but dried up. A plexi-glassed domed haven was created for those souls who yearned for Hawaii but couldn’t get to the real thing. This was back in 1961. The Hawaiians of today has grown into an area equivalent to six times that of Tokyo Dome, and features five fantastic theme parks: Water Park, ViR PORT, Spring Park, Edo Jowa Yoichi and Spa Garden PAREO.

Just over 2 hours on the road and we pull up to the car park of what looks like a correctional facility. The sight of these bleak buildings sparks sighs of disapproval  from the back seat. With the famous last words, "see you by the pirate ship in 5 minutes," we enter the giant water park. The decibel level goes off the meter and you’re in another world. Quickly you become accustomed to the sound, to the aroma and most importantly, the temperature, a balmy 28°C day in day out, 365 days of the year. It‘s cold outside but it‘s warm in here.

You know the routine; select the space for dropping off your gear, lay out the towels and hit the water. Still feeling a little apprehensive of the loud, chaotic chlorine park? Fear not! If there is one thing to guarantee a successful day out, it’s water slides. A variety of these monster fiberglass snakes are ready for your lot  to ride. Queues are bearable and the look on your kids’ faces at the end of the chute makes wearing the ridiculous Hawaiian shirt in the middle of winter all worthwhile.

The water park area is everyone’s favourite for obvious reasons but the other areas contain various pools and water jets, super sento style. An outdoor section for the brave and then onto the real treat for mum and dad: the world’s biggest onsen, Edo Jowa Yoichi. A huge wooden structure erected in traditional style spreads out and the steam rises over the floodlit water giving a beautiful effect. Time for a break and of course there is every kind of kiosk food under the su..(almost said it.). Don’t rush straight back into the water; you’ll miss the tropical hula show. Too late? No problem; catch The Grand Polynesian show in the evening with displays of Hula, Tahitian New Zealand’s Maori Poi dance. Things reach a climax when the Samoen fire dance takes place on stage and the local lads show their prowess with the fire stick. One last dip in the warm sea and then it’s time to head back to the Big Smoke. You can always prolong the stay and check in to one of the resort’s hotels which are pretty ‘family’ basic but adequate and allow you another day on the beach. Hawaiians might not be the ultimate tropical playground but I’d gladly swap my down jacket for a pair of board shorts any day of the week.

For details of access via bus, car or train check the comprehensive website. Take advantage of the coupons on the Internet for reduced entry. If you’re thinking of staying overnight, a free shuttle bus from Shinjuku, leaves at 10am and departs from the resort at 3pm, reservations required.

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