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Hula Girls

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Hula Girls

They danced their way into the hearts of a nation.
  • Japan
  • 2006
  • 108 minutes
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Family

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In 1965 the planned closing of a coal mine in Iwaki (northeastern Japan) will put 2,000 people out of work with devastating effects on the community. The mining company plans to build the Hawaiian Center to promote tourism, but the idea meets with resistance by the community's union families who boycott the effort. However, a few of the young women in Joban see the call for dancers to possibly provide a more promising future. Norio Yoshimoto is put in charge of organizing the center, with Madoka Hirayama, a professional dancer fleeing creditors in Tokyo hired to train the dancers. Kimiko, her friend Sanae, and Sayuri are amongst the handful first showing up for lessons but soon others join them. When Kimiko's mother, Chiyo, discovers that she has skipped school classes to learn dancing the two argue and Kimiko leaves home. Her brother Yojiro, one of the newly out of work miners, comes to be supportive of her dancing as he becomes protective of Madoka. The girls start to tour neighboring communities and dance to promote the center, getting more proficient in the process. After secretly seeing Kimiko practice, and how good she has become, Chiyo helps gather heaters to save palm trees imported from Taiwan from dying from the cold. Her change of heart as head of the union's woman's organization shifts the sympathies of the community as the opening of the center nears. Madoka has molded coal miner's daughters into professional dancers, and Kimiko performs a standout solo dance at the opening.