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Inn proprietresses launch pop group 'OKM8' to sing praises of Japanese hot spring resort

A scene from a music video by the group "OKM8" is seen in this screen grab from YouTube.

OITA -- Crashing tourist numbers in the hot spring paradise of southwestern Japan's Oita Prefecture has a group of eight local inn proprietresses determined to sing and dance their way out of the crisis as new pop idol unit "OKM8".

    The group -- average age 60 -- is getting the word out on the wonders of Oita Prefecture in videos posted to YouTube. If you were wondering what OKM stands for, it's "okami" -- women who run traditional Japanese inns or restaurants.

    The lengthy name of the group's first track is "Oita no okami-tachi de idol unit wo kessei shita yo. Hiza, koshi no itami ni taerareru ka!" (We formed an idol unit of Oita inn proprietresses. Can we push through the pain in our knees and hips?!). Along with the ladies, the video features rickshaw drivers from the Yufuin hot spring resort, Kokonoe Yume Otsurihashi suspension bridge, and other Oita Prefecture attractions. OKM8 is planning further installments.

    The three-minute, 15-second video was shot and produced by fourth-year students at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University in the prefectural city of Beppu. The music was edited by Shinya Kiyokawa, the musical director for the prefecture's "Shinfuro" promotional video.

    OKM8 member Nobuko Iwase, the 51-year-old "okami" at the Okamotoya Inn in Beppu, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I'm going to spur my body on and do my best." She added, "I want many visitors to come once the coronavirus is under control."

    (Japanese original by Hyelim Ha, Oita Bureau)

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