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Thousands flock to beaches on season opening weekend

Date Posted: 2007-03-22

The water temperature was 19.1C, a bit below 70F, but the tourists and locals couldn’t wait to get into the water.

It was the opening of beach season last weekend in the southern reaches of Okinawa. Yaeyama beaches opened to the cheers of thousands of visitors who wanted to be first to splash and frolic.

Sokochi Beach in Ishigaki City was the first to let water revelers into the water. Ishigaki City’s Mayor Nagateru Ohama set the tone as he made a safety prayer, then telling guests “Please enjoy the Ishigaki sea as much as you want.”

Ishigaki’s beaches have been selected best domestic Japanese beaches for seven straight years.

Kawahira Primary School student Satomi Takamine was first into the water. “It is the first time I was at the head of the group,” she said. “I want to do lots of snorkeling this year.” A visiting mainland tourist, Mika Mochii, said she couldn’t “believe the difference with Ishigaki’s waters and the Sea of Japan. The waves are so calm, and I can’t believe I can swim at this time of the year.”

Ishigaki launched the beach season with taiko drums, Miss Yaeyama, a beach fashion show and a tug of war. Joining Sokochi Beach was Haimurubushi Beach on nearby Taketomi Island, a short 35-minute hop from Ishigaki.

Fantastic Okinawa next week will showcase Okinawa’s beaches.

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