11-18 Obama City, Japan

There is a Japanese city named Obama (Obama-shi), which is a city located in Fukui Prefecture, North of Kyoto. People there are excited about Barack Obama simply because he share the same last name as the city they reside. Facing Wakasa Bay due north of Kyoto and Nara, the city is about four to five hours by train from Tokyo, and is served by the Obama Line of West Japan Railway (JR West). Obama means "little beach" in Japanese. Going back to the Ritsuryō period in the late 6th to 7th century, Obama was the capital of Wakasa Province, one of entrance of continental culture. Many Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines related to the Yamato Dynasty are located in Obama, and the city is called "Nara by the sea". People in Obama city are excited about the land sliding victory of Barack Obama simply because his last name has the same name as their city.

Excellent Seafood in Obama
The city of Obama is known as a place for excellent seafood including fresh blowfish. Hotel owners there are proud of the quality of their marine products. Blowfish is considered a dangerous food since it contains poison in a certain portion. Yet, it is completely safe to eat the fish as long as a trained professional butchers and cooks it. 

Wakasahiko Shinto Shrine
Wakasahiko Shinto Shrine is located in Obama City. According to a legend, Wakasahiko was a fisherman who lived in the antiquity by the Obama bay with his wife Wakasahime. He and his wife lived over 400 years after eating a mermaid fetus or unborn baby, the elixir of longevity. After living extremely long life, both Wakasahiko and Wakasahime died and became Shinto deities. Wakasahiko Shrine houses Wakasanohiko and Wakasahime Shrine another shrine in Obama City houses Wakasahime. They retained apparent youth for their entire life and looked like in their 20s until the right moment of death.

Relationship with elected U.S. President, Barack Obama
After the city of Obama noted the rise of Barack Obama as an American politician and as the elected President of the United States, they decided to use the common name to boost publicity for the town. As a result of the decisive victory by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the Mayor of Obama City announced to the Japanese press that he intends to build a statue of Barack Obama to be put in front of the city hall "as a token of the great historical moment for the name Obama". In addition, he has declared that November 4th will be an annual holiday in the city.

Obama himself knows about the small city that bears his name and has even encountered a former resident. He once said that during a visit to Japan, the immigration officer took a look at his passport and said to him: "I'm from Obama." The mayor of the city plans to invite Mr. Obama to visit Obama. According to the news, Obama himself expressed a strong interest to visit the city.

Does Obama eat Blowfish in Obama?
If Obama visit to Obama happens, Japanese PM and Obama mayor must treat him the excellent seafood of the city. Now, I want to raise a little question. Is Obama going to eat the best blowfish in Obama since it is the best marine product there? Are Japanese officials brave enough to serve US president blowfish? Blowfish is city's best food and US president deserves the best of the best. Although it is completely safe to eat the blowfish if handled by a trained professional, there is still stigma against serving the fish to important people.

Anyway, if Obama eats blowfish in Obama during his term, he will be known as "the first United States president who ever ate blowfish." If he does, he will break the stigma against a "forbidden delicacy" and bring a real "change" to the culinary world as well.

The picture underneath contains the image of a live blowfish, Obama Bay, Wakasahiko Shinto Shrine, and a delicious blowfish sashimi that the residents of the Obama City are proud of.

Last updated Nov. 18th, 2008 at 9:56pm by Isao Ebihara