Boasting Japan's richest fishing waters, the coastal towns of Fukushima are also a testament to the fighting spirit of the locals. Catch the famed Hula Girls performing at the Spa Resort Hawaiians and explore the natural wonders of Aquamarine Fukushima and Setogaro Gorge.
From Tokyo's Ueno Station, it takes two hours by the Super Hitachi limited express train to Iwaki on the JR Joban line.
Highway buses from Tokyo station take around three hours. If you're booked to stay at the Spa Resort Hawaiians, you can reserve a spot on a free bus from Tokyo station, Shinjuku station, Yokohama station or Saitama Shintoshin station.
It may be more convenient to rent a car to get around, as some of the attractions are scattered around the region. You can find car rental places close to Iwaki and Izumi stations.
The citizens of Iwaki are no strangers to hard times, having revived the area after the decline of the local coal industry. Although Iwaki suffered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the local communities rallied to quickly rebuild their city and welcome refugees seeking new homes.
For many Japanese, Iwaki's most famous attraction are the Hula Girls, a dance troupe that was created in the 1960s to attract tourists to the area after the downturn of the coal mining industry. Catch them performing Polynesian dances at the Spa Resort Hawaiians theme park. While you're there, dip into the world's largest open-air hot spring.
Yumoto has long been known for its hot springs, and there are many free foot baths installed around the town, including one on the train station platform. One of Japan's oldest hot springs is the Iwaki Yumoto Onsen, still open for business after 1,200 years.
Iwaki is located close to Japan's rich fishing grounds known as the Shiome-no-Umi. You can get up close to the local sea life at Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium and explore the facility's gigantic wading pool, the largest of its kind in the world.
If you prefer mountains and rivers, then head to the cool, green forests of Natsuigawa valley. The Setogaro Gorge is full of dramatic waterfalls and stone formations, recommended for experienced hikers.
The city's industrial past is commemorated at the Iwaki Coal and Fossil Museum, with life-size dioramas and dinosaur bones. Visit the 12th-century Shiramizu Amidado temple and its beautiful gardens, in all seasons, but especially in fall, when the oldest surviving building in Fukushima is framed by red autumn leaves and illuminated in the evenings. Further south, an even older monument, the 8th century Nakoso Barrier, remains to mark the boundary between early Japanese civilization and the so-called "barbarians" of the north.
Get a glimpse of traditional rural life at the Iwaki City Museum of Folklore and Traditional Housing (Kurashi no Denshogo), with a collection of traditional houses which you can explore. Although exhibits are in Japanese, the buildings and traditional objects speak for themselves. From time to time, traditional folk dances are performed.