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Japan beach closed to swimmers opens to readers as social-distanced library

People enjoy reading at the beach library that has been set up at the seaside in the Ibaraki Prefecture town of Oarai, on Aug. 8, 2020. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)
People are seen enjoying reading at the beach library that has been set up at the seaside in the Ibaraki Prefecture town of Oarai, on Aug. 8, 2020. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

OARAI, Ibaraki -- A library for people to read in has been set up at this eastern Japan town's Oarai Sun Beach, which has been closed to swimmers this summer due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    The local tourists' association came up with the idea as a unique way to enjoy the beach in summer 2020, and began running it from Aug. 1. Some 800 books including picture books, specialized books and novels that have been donated by individuals and the prefectural library line bookshelves installed in a tsunami evacuation facility on the beach.

    Visitors can choose any book they like, and read them from one of the 40 seats set up under tarps to shade from the sun. As part of novel coronavirus countermeasures, library users are required to register their contact information, and the sun shades are kept at a distance of 2 meters apart.

    "It's unfortunate that we can't go swimming, but I can enjoy this," a visitor to the library said.

    The library is open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. until Aug. 23. Admission is free.

    (Japanese original by Takehiko Onishi, Photo Group)

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