IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture--Usuiso beach, once regarded as one of the 100 most beautiful seashores in Japan, welcomed its first holidaymakers in seven years July 15.
Before the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that triggered the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Usuiso drew the most visitors of any beach in Fukushima Prefecture.
Each summer, beaches around Japan hold elaborate ceremonies to welcome visitors to the start of the swimming season. Usuiso held its ceremony July 15.
The 2011 disaster claimed the lives of more than 120 local residents.
Towering tsunami devastated the community, leaving mountains of debris.
As a result, people living in the area campaigned for the construction of a protective coastal levee. They also set about establishing evacuation routes from the beach.
Another concern was the level of radiation on the beach and in local waters. Residents have received assurances that levels have returned to what they were before the accident.
Those efforts led to the reopening of the Usuiso beach this year. The beach will be open until Aug. 15.
After the beach was officially declared open, more than 100 senior high school students ran screaming with joy for a plunge in the ocean.
Rest house operators along the beach are keeping their fingers crossed that Usuiso will regain its reputation as the most popular beach in Fukushima Prefecture.