An Obama itinerary


POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

OBAMA, Japan » There are more than 130 temples and shrines in Obama. Several of the larger ones can be found a short 10-minute walk southwest of the Obama train station. Hachiman Shrine, Kuinji Temple, Jokoji Temple and Hosshinji Temple are all within a 10-minute walk of each other. Several other well-known temples are located in neighboring Wakasa, south of the Higashi-Obama station, the next station east of Obama station. Guided bus tours in Japanese depart twice a day from the Obama station between March and November. Check with the tourist information center for times.






Places of Interest

        » Hashi Minomoto: 19-11 Kitashioya, Obama City, Fukui 917-0002. Call 0770-53-1198.

» Miketsukuni Wakasa Obama Food Culture Museum: 3-4, Kawasaki, Obama City, Fukui 917-0081. Call 0770-53-1000; www.city.obama.fukui.jp/mermaid (Japanese).


» Miyabi: 107 Katori, Obama City, Fukui 917-0058. Call 0770-53-1678; http://www.wakasa-miyabi.com (Japanese).




Tourist Information Center and Bike Rental

        » Obama Station: 300 yen for two hours, 500 yen for four hours, 800 yen for eight hours

» Wakasaya: 111 Shirahige, Obama City, Fukui




Travel Arrangements

        » Rakuten Travel: travel.rakuten.co.jp/en

» Japanican: www.japanican.com




Obama is also home to the Obama Castle ruins.

Only the stone walls remain from the castle completed in 1636 as the home of Tadakatsu Sakai, an underlord to Ieyasu Tokugawa. The castle remained in Sakai's family for more than 230 years but was destroyed by a fire in 1871. The Obama Shrine now sits on the grounds of the former castle.

To learn more about the culture of the area, the Miketsukuni Wakasa Obama Food Culture Museum is a must stop. Located in Mermaid Plaza in the Fisherman's Wharf area, 20 minutes northwest of the Obama station on foot, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

On the first floor you can learn about the history of the Wakasa-Obama area and sample the different types of local cuisine.

The second floor is for arts and crafts where kids and adults can make their own paper, hashi, agate sculpture or clay roof tile, all things that the Wakasa area is known for.

After a long day of sightseeing, take a trip up to the third floor where you can pamper yourself with a massage, relax in a sauna or watch the sunset while soaking in a hot bath.

The other must stop, that is if you voted for President Barack Obama, is Wakasaya. Complete with a bust of President Obama outside, this gift store has the largest selection of gifts honoring our 44th president.

There are “;I heart Obama”; T-shirts, “;hachimakis”; (headbands), “;senbei”; (rice cookies), manju (rice cakes) and hashi. They even have bread-in-a-can. I'm still trying to figure out what the connection is, if there is one. Perhaps it's related to President Obama's “;Yes we can!”; slogan, or maybe it's just a Japanese thing.

Finding accommodations can be a little tricky.

While there are several hotels and “;ryokans”; (inns) in the area, you won't find them on Orbitz or Expedia. Your local travel agent might be able to assist you, but if you like to book your own travel online, Rakuten Travel or Japanican are good sources for booking your hotel room.

One of the great things about traveling in Japan is that they offer single rates. Double occupancy is not required.

If you love your shorts and slippers, summer would be a better time to visit. With warmer temperatures and numerous festivals, I was told by a local resident that Obama is much more lively in July and August. Even so, if you're prepared for the cold temperatures, it is still a nice reprieve from the big city.

There is a certain sense of serenity and peacefulness within this small city.

The people are nice and helpful to visitors with limited Japanese-speaking ability. They welcomed me like I was an old relative or friend they haven't seen in a while.

It was akin to the aloha spirit, except I was in Japan. Perhaps it is the Obama spirit that welcomes others and makes them feel at home.

Whatever you want to call it, it will likely have you returning for more.

I know I will.


Darrell Miho is a freelance photographer and writer based in Los Angeles who is working on making this world a better place, and dreams of the day he can eat poke and rice every day.