Guest Author - Jillian Michelle Williams
Japanís found a way to have sunny skies all year long. Located in Miyazaki, on Kyushu Island, is the worldís largest indoor beach, appropriately named Ocean Dome. Spanning an impressive 300 meters in length and 100 meters in width, with a height of 38 meters, the dome can accommodate 10,000 people.
At Ocean Dome, the weather is always nice, and the sky is always blue. Ocean dome features a retractable roof that is left open only when the weather outside is deemed sunny and perfect. Otherwise, the roof is closed, and visitors, upon looking up, are greeted by a ceiling that is painted blue, complete with white, fluffy clouds. The air temperature is always controlled, set at a constant 30 degrees Celsius, so it is never too cold and never too hot. Gone are the days of summer when it is so unbearably hot that you donít even want to go outside to enjoy the beach. Gone are the rainy days that spoil an, otherwise, perfectly planned trip to the ocean. Ocean Dome can even be enjoyed in the middle of winter, for the water temperature is set at 28 degrees Celsius year-round. If there is a paradise, it canít be much different than this.
At Ocean Dome, the water is a turquoise blue. The beach is full of crushed marble pebbles, forming a blanket of pure white sand. Inside the dome, there is no danger of sunburn. There is no biting of mosquitoes, nor stinging of bees. There is, however, a volcano, and it erupts once every hour, on the hour, sending smoke and flames into the, otherwise, perfect sky. Of course, the flames arenít real, nor is the volcano; theyíre just part of this perfect, man-made world, created to signify that the calm, artificial ocean will be transformed into a sea of waves. Every hour at this time, high-tech machinery creates a perfect surf, and visitors can pay to ride the waves with a body board. Professional surfers also perform their own show several times a day.
In addition to its artificial ocean, Ocean Dome has a floating pool, a childrenís pool, and several water slides, perfectly placed amidst artificial palm trees, tropical plants, and cascading waterfalls. There are also three-stories of shops where you can purchase swimwear or fast food, as well as a range of full-scale restaurants.
At Ocean Dome, itís easy to find yourself feeling wonder and awe towards Japanís ability to create a world of perfection, as well as a little unease at manís desire to have such a world devoid of any flaws, especially when a real beach is only 300 meters away. Visitors to Ocean Dome can literally walk outside and gaze at the Pacific Ocean, which, even on sunny days, often seems vacant in comparison to the numbers who seem to prefer Ocean Domeís man-made, indoor ocean. Perhaps itís because people find comfort in the structure and safety of the indoor beach, even if it also means predictability. Even so, I canít help but remember the feeling I got the first time I set foot on a real beach, that rush of excitement that can only come from feeling the sting of the hot sand beneath your feet, while the wind plays with your hair and the sun kisses your cheeks. Maybe there really is a paradise, but perhaps we already found it long ago.