|[ Cultural Facilities | Cultural Activities | Leisure Activities and Sports ]|
Fukushima's abundant nature,combined with extensive leisure facilities,attracts sports and leisure-minded youth and adults,from both inside and outside the prefecture year-round. There are three national parks and eleven prefectural natural parks in Fukushima,providing excellent opportunities for sports and leisure activities that cannot be enjoyed in urban areas. A number of golf courses,located in the Naka-dori and Hama-dori regions,take full advantage of extensive land areas and superb natural settings. Each year,the Naka]dori and Aizu regions see a rise in the number of ski resorts,featuring resort hotels and other facilities. And,as one of the most attractive hot spring areas in Japan,the prefecture draws a large number of visitors from around the country.
The prefecture is upgrading and enlarging its high-quality resort facilities to meet the demand for increased leisure opportunities,while at the same time giving full consideration to nature preservation. Examples of recently developed leisure activities include boating,yachting and marine sports on Lake Inawashiro and off the Pacific Coast,paragliding,and family auto-camping in the mountains of the Aizu region.
More and more people are also becoming involved in sports,seeking healthier and fuller lives. The past few years have seen a rise in the number of people,mainly in urban areas,who attend privately operated sports clubs or swimming pools,as well as community centers fully equipped with training facilities. A recent focus of popularity are long-stay type resort facilities,such as"Renaissance Tanakura" in Tanakura Town,which features a hotel,a facility housing a variety of Japanese baths and hot springs,and a full array of sports facilities built on an extensive site.
To help people of all age groups enjoy sports and recreational activities,the prefectural government intends to improve and expand urban parks,forest trails,cycling roads and campgrounds such as Azuma General Athletic Park and Iwaki Park,which combine nature and sports facilities.
1995 saw the Winter,Summer and Autumn meets of the 50th National Games held in Fukushima. The "Fukushima Kokutai" was attended by over 30,000 athletes. coaches and officials. The events were watched by in excess of 1.4million people,and the games as a whole were a great success largely due to the efforts of citizens of Fukushima. Fukushima City witnessed the construction of the Azuma General Athletics Park,the main stadium to stage the games. the park was built as venue for residents of every part of Fukushima to enjoy a variety of sports. The facility enjoys continued use as an athletics venue,and also as a base for the sporting and cultural development of region.
The National Games stimulated a steep improvement in athletic standards throughout the prefecture. It is hoped that this rapid development can be maintained in the future.