Obama City Hall
Location of Obama in Fukui Prefecture
|• - Mayor||Toshio Murakami|
|• Total||233.09 km2 (90.00 sq mi)|
|Population (August 1 2018)|
|• Density||130/km2 (330/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)|
|Address||6-3 Ote-machi, Obama-shi, Fukui-ken 917-8585|
Obama (小浜市 Obama-shi) is a city located in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. As of 1 August 2018[update], the city had an estimated population of 29,435 in 12,057 households and the population density of 240 persons per km². The total area of the city was 233.09 square kilometres (90.00 sq mi). Obama gained publicity in the United States and elsewhere in 2008, as it shared its name with senator Barack Obama, who was running for, and later became President of the United States.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Demographics
- 5 History
- 6 Government
- 7 Economy
- 8 Education
- 9 Transportation
- 10 Sister city relations
- 11 Local attractions
- 12 Festivals
- 13 Film and TV
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Obama means "little beach" in Japanese.
Obama is located in far southwestern Fukui Prefecture, bordered by Shiga Prefecture to the south and the heavily indented ria coast of Wakasa Bay on the Sea of Japan to the north. It is due north of Kyoto, and is about four to seven hours by train from Tokyo. Parts of the city are within the borders of the Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park.
Obama has a Humid climate (Köppen Cfa) characterized by warm, wet summers and cold winters with heavy snowfall. The average annual temperature in Obama is 14.9 °C. The average annual rainfall is 2005 mm with September as the wettest month.The temperatures are highest on average in August, at around 27.4 °C, and lowest in January, at around 3.8 °C.
|Climate data for Obama City|
|Record high °C (°F)||18.5
|Average high °C (°F)||7.3
|Daily mean °C (°F)||3.7
|Average low °C (°F)||0.3
|Record low °C (°F)||−9.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||207.8
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||78
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||65.8||76.6||119.2||165.6||181.6||136.6||158.2||203.5||135.2||135.8||102.1||84.2||1,564.4|
|Source: Japan Meteorological Agency|
Per Japanese census data, the population of Obama has remained steady over the past 40 years.
Obama developed as a seaport with connections to the Asian continent even before the start of written history in Japan, and artefacts from China have been found in local tombs from the Kofun period. From the Asuka period and Nara period, salt and seafood from the Obama area were supplied to the Yamato dynasty, and under the Ritsuryō system, Obama was the capital of Wakasa Province. Many temples and cultural remains from the Nara and Heian period are found in the Obama area, and the city labels itself "Nara by the sea" in its tourist promotions. As a result of its location in the Wakasa Province area, which travelers passed through when traveling between China and Kyoto, the area was influenced by Chinese culture for a long period. There are many buildings and houses in the Sancho-machi area of the city whose design was influenced by trade with the Chinese mainland.
In the Edo period, Obama was the jōkamachi of the Obama Domain under the Tokugawa shogunate and was ruled by a branch of the influential Sakai clan. The town remained an important port for the kitamaebune coastal trade, and was the starting point of the Saba-kaidō ("Mackerel highway") connecting the Sea of Japan to Kyoto.
With the establishment of the modern municipalities system on April 1, 1889, the town of Obama was created. It was raised to city status on March 30, 1951 after merging with surrounding municipalities.
The economy of Obama is mixed, with agriculture and commercial fishing playing important roles. Seasonal tourism is of growing importance.  Wakasa lacquered chopsticks, agate accessories, and other crafts are made in the area.
Obama has 17 public elementary schools and two middle schools operated by the city government, and three public high schools operated by the Fukui Prefectural Board of Education. The prefectural also operates one special education school.
Fukui Prefectural University has a branch campus located in Obama since 1992.  In this short period, the university's Research Center for Marine Bioresources has been noted for its research of preservation and in the fields of fish embryogenesis, aquaculture stock enhancement, fish disease, and microalgeal bloom. The university also has schools (faculties) of Economics, Nursing, Arts and Sciences, Biotechnology, and others.
Sister city relations
- Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan
- Pinghu, Zhejiang, People's Republic of China
- Xi'an, Shaanxi, People's Republic of China
- Wakasa Wan Quasi-National Park
- Wakasahiko Shrine, ichinomiya of Wakasa Province
- Wakasa Kokubun-ji, provincial temple of Wakasa Province
- site of Obama Castle
- site of Nochiseyama Castle, a National Historic Site
- Hosshinji, a working Zen monastery.
- Wakasa Historical and Folk Museum
- Omizu-okuri (Water Carrying) Festival is held every March 2 on which water is drawn from the Onyu River and presented to the principal image of the temple. This annual event dates back more than 1,200 years.
Relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama
The city of Obama has received much publicity because it shares its name with former U.S. President Barack Obama. It began when Obama as a Senator gave a 2006 interview to Japanese television network TBS where he noted that, when passing through customs in Narita Airport, the official who inspected his visa said that he was from Obama. The Obama City Hall heard about the interview and the mayor, Toshio Murakami, sent Senator Obama a set of the city’s famous lacquer chopsticks, a DVD about the city and a letter wishing him the best. As Senator Obama's presidential campaign progressed, more local businesses began to organize primary parties and put up "Go Obama!" posters, sell "I love Obama" T-shirts, and produce manjū (a type of Japanese confectionery) with Senator Obama's face on them. A hula group began in the town in honour of Senator Obama's home state of Hawaii. The troupe visited Honolulu in June to perform at the Pan Pacific Festival.
Obama has since thanked the town for their gifts and support, saying "I look forward to a future marked by the continued friendship of our two great nations and a shared commitment to a better, freer world".
As a result of the victory by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the Mayor of Obama City announced to the Japanese press that he intends to commission 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". On January 20, 2009, the day that Barack Obama was sworn into office, the city of Obama celebrated the inauguration with women dancing the hula at the Hagaji Temple.
In 2013, Obama mayor Koji Matsuzaki gave a red lacquer pen to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to give to President Obama.
Film and TV
- Cable TV Wakasa Obama, a cable television and internet services provider in Fukui Prefecture, headquartered in Obama
- "Official statistics of Obama City" (in Japanese). Japan: Obama City. Retrieved 5 August 2018.
- Staff (2008-11-05). "Japanese City of Obama Celebrates Namesake's Victory". Associated Press. FOX News Network, LLC. Archived from the original on 2015-04-24. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
Obama, which means 'little beach' in Japanese, is a former fishing town that now relies almost entirely on tourism.
- "Obama climate: Average Temperatures, weather by month, Obama weather averages - Climate-Data.org". en.climate-data.org.
- "Fukui / 福井県 (Japan): Prefecture, Cities, Towns and Villages - Population Statistics, Charts and Map". www.citypopulation.de.
- "Wakasa Area - Japan National Tourism Organization".
- Individual Cases - 17 Abductees Identified by the Government of Japan, Headquarters for the Abduction Issue, Government of Japan
- Overview and history of abduction of japanese citizens by North Korea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- "Obama City, Fukui Prefecture".
- "Fukui Prefectural University".
- "Fukui Prefectural University".
- "Fukui Prefectural University".
- "姉妹・友好都市 小浜市".
- "PM - Japanese town capitalises on Obama name".
- Japanese hula troupe has vested interest in election The Honolulu Star-Bulletin June 7, 2009
- Strzemien, Anya (28 November 2008). "Obama, Japan Goes Crazy For Obama (VIDEO, PHOTOS)". HuffPost. Archived from the original on 2009-01-31. Retrieved 2015-04-24.
I look forward to a future marked by the continued friendship of our two great nations and a shared commitment to a better, freer world. I am touched by your friendly gesture, and I wish you all the best. [Something in Japanese], Barack Obama
- Norimitsu Onishi, Candidate Wins Support in the East. No, Farther East., The New York Times, February 19, 2008.
- McCurry, Justin (11 February 2008). "Obama receives backing of Obama" – via The Guardian.
- Yomiuri Shimbun "Mayor of Obama City celebrates his namesake"
- "Cheers across U.S. and globe".
- "Remarks by President Barack Obama at Suntory Hall," November 14, 2009; excerpt, "And of course, I could not come here without sending my greetings and gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan. (Applause.)"
- Fukui city of Obama gifts U.S. president with lacquered pen February 13, 2014 Japan Times Retrieved January 31, 2016
- Isao Soranaka: Obama: The Rise and Decline of a Seaport. In: Monumenta Nipponica, Jg. 52, Nr. 1, 1997. ISSN 0027-0741
- Media related to Obama, Fukui at Wikimedia Commons
- Obama travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Obama City official website (in Japanese)
- Obama City official website (in English)
- Obama city (Japan) in English from Sister city: Nara City Home Page
- Obama city (Japan) in English from Sister city: Kawagoe City Home Page