Two beaches on Japan's northeastern coast, devastated by a massive tsunami in 2011, opened to the public for the first time in eight years Saturday, delighting residents amid a heat spell.
"I'm happy to see this beach become bustling again," said Nami Aoki, a 48-year-old woman from Fukushima city, who visited Haragamaobama beach in Soma in Fukushima Prefecture with her 9-year-old daughter. Soma is Aoki's hometown.
"I wanted my daughter to play in the sea where I would swim when I was little," Aoki said with a smile.
The beach boasted between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors during the swimming season annually before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The water quality checks conducted by Soma city authorities since 2015 show radioactive substances have been at levels below safety-standards at the beach.
Levees damaged in the 2011 disaster have been reconstructed while debris caused by the disaster has been removed.
However, the beach is only the fourth to have reopened to the public following the calamity, out of the 18 swimming beaches in Fukushima Prefecture.
In neighboring Miyagi Prefecture, Watanoha beach in Ishinomaki also opened to the public Saturday for the first time in eight years, but its location moved 700 meters to the west of its original spot, after the tsunami carried its sands away.