Photo By: Andrea Katsuya
Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Fukui
Population
828,960

Obama City

Yes, Obama like the former U.S. President, but there’s more to this coastal town than the name.

Obama is a coastal town situated in Fukui Prefecture,  just north of Kyoto. The obvious elephant in the room is, of course, the town of Obama shares its name with former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Photo by: Aaron Baggett Obama loves Obama. They even sell sweets with the former president’s face on them!

The locals are well aware of this, and use it to promote local tourism. There are numerous President Obama statues and murals located around town, and you can even find rice crackers, sweets, and t-shirts with his face on them.  It’s more than just presidential puns, though. Obama is full of small-town charm, not to mention great seafood.

Things to do in Obama City

Here are the top attractions to see in the area including its best temples and restaurants.

Sancho-machi

Obama Sancho-machi Nishigumi in Fukui, Japan.

Photo by: Andrea Katsuya Traditional vibes.

Obama Castle is long gone, but its castle town lives on. Sancho-machi was once Obama’s illustrious red-light district, swelling with inns, brothels, and tea houses. Today, there are more bakeries and cafes, but the Kyoto-style architecture remains. The neighborhood’s history has been beautifully preserved, and if it looks familiar, you might be seeing a little bit of Saitama’s Kawagoe, which is a sister city to Obama.

Myotsu-ji Temple

Myotsu-ji Temple in Obama, Fukui.

Photo by: Andrea Katsuya A place for meditation.

Obama’s best feature is its temples, the most famous one being Myotsu-ji Temple. It was founded by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, a shogun from the Heian Period. Its hondo (main hall) and pagoda use cypress bark and are designated national treasures.

Beautiful ponds and lush greenery make up most of the temple’s grounds. Myotsu-ji also offers visitors the opportunity to experience ajikan, a form of meditation practiced by followers of Shingon Buddhism.

Mantoku-ji Temple

Obama Mantoku-ji Temple in Fukui, Japan.

Photo by: Obama City Tourism A place of scenic beauty, indeed.

Since its foundation sometime before 1265, Mantoku-ji Temple has moved from the river to the mountains, switched names three times, and even converted from Tendai Buddhism to Shingon Buddhism. In 1544 it was a refuge for abused women and runaways. Its gorgeous 300-year-old rock garden was designated a “Place of Scenic Beauty” in 1932.

Jingu-ji Temple

Obama Jingu-ji Temple in Fukui, Japan.Photo by: Andrea Katsuya

Jingu-ji is a peculiar temple. Shinto-Buddhist syncretism isn’t rare in Japan, but this temple’s architecture is. Early Buddhist temples were symmetrical, but Jingu-ji isn’t. It features three alters so that Buddhist and Shinto gods can be worshipped together. History buffs will remember that Shinto and Buddhism were separated after the Meiji restoration, making this temple a rare treat.

Omizu Okuri

Obama Omizu Okuri Festival in Fukui, Japan.

Photo by: Obama City Tourism Join the fire festival in March.

Jingu-ji Temple is also the location for one of the most famous religious festivals in Fukui Prefecture called Omizu Okuri, held annually on March 2. Locals dressed in religious attire draw sacred water from the temple’s well and march with torches lit to a riverbank near Unose Park. The water is poured into a stream that leads to Nara and symbolizes the cities’ ties.

What to eat in Obama

Sabar Restaurant in Obama City, Fukui Japan

Photo by: Aaron Baggett Obama has some seriously fresh fish.

Obama’s seafood is a delicacy, especially saba (mackerel). The town has been exporting saba since the Asuka Period. The best way to try it yourself is to visit the Wakasa Obama Fish Center early in the morning when the fish comes straight from the nearby fish market. There are dozens of shops around the area to choose from, but we recommend Sabar, which serves (you guessed it) saba, but also fairly good coffee.

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Things To Know

Hours and access info

Jingu-ji Temple is a 30-minute walk from Higashi-Obama Station. Shuttle buses depart from Obama Station on the day of the Omizu Okuri festival. Visitors can purchase torches and participate for ¥1,500.

Myotsu-ji Temple hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March to November and are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from December to February.

How To Get There

Address

Obama, Fukui, Japan

By train

Obama Station can be reached via the JR Obama Line from Tsuruga Station.

From Kyoto or Osaka, travel to Tsuruga Station where you can then transfer to the JR Obama Line.

From Tokyo, take the Tokaido Hikari Shinkansen to Maibara Station or the Shirasagi Limited Express train to Tsuruga Station, and transfer to the JR Obama Line.

By car

From Tsuruga, take Route 27 to central Obama city.

From Kyoto, take Route 367 and 303 to central Obama.

Where To Stay

Hotel Sekumiya
  • Obamashirahige 113 Obama-Shi, Fukui 917-0069
  • 7.3/10
  • 0.5 km
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Tangokaido Taniguchi
  • Obama Omiya 27-2 Obama-Shi, Fukui 917-0053
  • 9.4/10
  • 0.6 km
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Sunhotel Yamane
  • Shirahige 55-1 Obama-Shi, Fukui 917-0069
  • 0.6 km
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Shikisainoyado Hanatsubaki
  • Obamashiratori 72-1 Koganei-Shi, Tokyo 184-0004
  • 7.9/10
  • 0.8 km
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