Hula Girls, a wonderful movie about Hawaiian dance in a 60s coal mining town

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Last night, I finally watched Hula Girls, the 2006 film about a coal mining town in northern Japan that won a bunch of awards and was a big hit in film festival circuits a couple years ago. It’s about a coal mining town in northern Japan where nothing ever changes &mdash until one day, the owner of the mine announces that he has to fire 2000 people because people are starting to rely on oil, not coal. Instead, the town has decided to open a Hawaiian-themed entertainment resort, and as part of that effort, the project manager recruits a hula teacher from Tokyo to teach some of the coal miners’ daughters how to wear bikinis and shake their hips and dance. A lot of interesting issues are addressed in the film, which is based in 1960s &mdash old Japan vs new, changing views of women and work, stigmas about sexiness, etc. But it’s a fun, feel-good movie (like Honey and Clover and Tampopo).

Did I tell you it’s based on a true story? The Hawaiian resort really exists in Iwaki City, and has since 1966. It’s released in the US by Viz Pictures with subtitles. Highly recommended!

Hula Girls on Amazon

4 thoughts on “Hula Girls, a wonderful movie about Hawaiian dance in a 60s coal mining town

  1. The resort site says it’s in Fukushima.
    I had to check cause I lived in Iwate for 2 years and never heard about a Hawaiian resort. heh

  2. Hula Girls is a great feel-good movie. I recommend it. For a completely different kind of feed-good movie, check out (the unfortunately named) Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari).