National

Oita aims to heat things up with video of Olympian synchronized swimming in onsen

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Famous for its onsen (hot springs), Oita Prefecture has posted a promotional video featuring former Olympians performing synchronized swimming in geothermal pools in a bid to “heat up” momentum for an upcoming international aquatics sports competition.

The video, posted Monday by the prefecture’s official YouTube account, was a part of a campaign to cheer for Japan’s synchronizing swimming team competing at the FINA World Aquatics Championships, which kicks off on July 14 in Budapest, Hungary.

The video features five female swimmers, including Mikako Kotani, a bronze medal winner in solo and duet synchronized swimming at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, and Raika Fujii, a member of the silver medal-winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. They show off dynamic performances at nine spas in the prefecture, which boasts the world’s highest yield of hot spring water.

Toward the end of the video, a slogan appears: “Go ahead and fire up the world.”

The video will also be played multiple times at the famous scramble crossing in front of Tokyo’s Shibuya Station on July 15. The YouTube video can be viewed until July 31.

“I hope viewers will enjoy the beautiful, thoroughly organized performance by former Olympians,” said Oita Prefecture spokesman Takahiro Miyazaki. “And at the same time, I hope people will also be attracted to Oita’s hot springs.”

The prefecture has organized the tourism promotion video series, called “Shinfuro” — coined from the words “synchronized swimming” and furo (bath) — since 2015. The videos have had more than 3 million views.

Oita Prefecture’s city of Beppu announced last year its plan to open a “spamusement park” featuring a hot-tub merry-go-round and other bathing-themed rides after a successful online promotion campaign. The amusement park is scheduled to open this summer.

The prefecture warned that the video was filmed with special permission and that regular visitors are prohibited from wearing bathing suits or swimming.