JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.

Image search results - "fukui"
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Tojinbo sign indicating the Echizen-Kaga Coastal Quasi-National Park
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Maruoka Castle is Japan's oldest surviving castle tower although it collapsed during the Fukui Earthquake in 1948. Rebuilt in 1955 with most of the original materials. Originally built in 1576 by Shibata Katsutoyo, nicknamed Kasumiga-jo (Misty CastlePhoto: Way to Maruoka Castle from the bus stop.
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Bridge to castle grounds. 5-min. walk from Fukui Station.
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JR Tsuruga Station
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Tojinbo in Mikuni-cho is spectacular, natural rock columns and walls on the coast. Hiking trails and boat rides give you a closer look at this rare natural monument. Tojimbo is accessible by bus from JR Awara Onsen Station on the Hokuriku Line.
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Entrance to castle grounds
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Bridge to castle grounds with prefectural capital building looming ahead.
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Huge rock columns stand about 9 stories (25 meters) high.
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The stone marker says National Treasure Kasumiga-jo Castle.The castle was a National Treasure until it collapsed in the 1948 Fukui Earthquake. Now an Important Cultural Property.
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Maruoka Castle tower
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Statue of castle founder and 1st lord, Yuki Hideyasu 結城秀康
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Bungee jumping is probably not possible here.
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Maruoka Castle tower
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Valley between the prefectural capital (left) and police department (right).
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Maruoka Castle tower
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Stone foundation of the castle tower at one corner.
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Stairs to castle tower foundation
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Path to castle tower
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Atop the castle tower foundation (lower level)
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Maruoka Castle
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Monuments
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Kehi no Matsubara beach, one of Japan's three most famous pine tree beaches.The other two being Miho no Matsubara in Shizuoka and Karatsu in Saga Pref.
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JR Fukui Station
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The castle tower suffered a major fire in 1669, and it was never rebuilt.
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Hiroshige's woodblock print of Kehi Pine Beach in Tsuruga from his "Famous Views of the 60 Provinces" series.
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Sign encouraging the construction of the shinkansen to Fukui.
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Steps to upper level of castle tower foundation
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Mall in front of Fukui Station
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Old shachi (killer whale) roof ornaments made of stone.The original shachi were made of wood with copper plating. But during WWII, the precious copper was taken and these two stone shachi were made to replace the original shachi. These two shachi fell off the roof during the 1948 earthquake and were replaced by a replica of the original made of wood and copper plating.
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Road in front of Fukui Station
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Steps to castle tower entrance.
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Top of castle tower foundation. Grassy, but uneven ground.
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Side of castle
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Another stone foundation which was partially damaged during the 1948 Fukui Easrthquake.
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Streetcar station
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Steps to go down.
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Shopping road
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View of moat from the corner of castle tower foundation.
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Fukui Shrine
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Stone wall submerged in moat.
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Fukui Shrine 福井神社
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Fukui Shrine
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Entrance to castle tower
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Castle tower foundation
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1st floor of castle towerThe steep stairs go to the 2nd floor.
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1st floor of castle tower
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Well
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1st floor of castle tower with photos of other castles.
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Old-style "bay window?"
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"Sama" hole to shoot weapons (arrows or guns)
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2nd floor
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Roof tiles made of stone (rare)
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Another bridge 廊下橋
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Roof tiles made of stone (2nd floor)
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Fukui police HQ and castle wall
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Roof tiles made of stone on Maruoka Castle
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Stairs to top floor
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Stairway on top floor
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Pedestrian bridge
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Top floor
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Top floor
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Prefectural capital building
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Veranda (closed to visitors)
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Mismatched buildings
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View from castle tower
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The veranda is narrow and the fence is low.
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Statue of Emperor Keitai in Asuwayama Park 継体天皇像The 26th Emperor of Japan is said to have hailed from Echizen Province.
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Ceiling on top floor
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Ceiling on top floor
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Ceiling on top floor
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Ceiling on top floor
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Stairs going down
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Well related to the castle's mist.
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Lower stone wall
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Folk History Museum adjacent to the castle. 歴史民俗資料館
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Folk History Museum
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Inside Folk History Museum
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Edo Period currency
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Kasumiga-jo Park, noted for cherry blossoms.
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Bus stop for Maruoka CastleTakes about 40-50 min. from Fukui Station.
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A dinosaur waiting for his train at JR Tsuruga Station. Fukui Prefecture is famous for dinosaur digs. This is just a sculpture stealing a valuable place to sit, but it looks like a kid can sit on his lap.
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Kehi Jingu Shrine is a 20-min. walk from JR Tsuruga Station. I visited on New Year's Day 2016 when it was a warm period with no snow.
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Kehi Shrine's torii gate is one of Japan's three most famous wooden toriis. The other two being Miyajima's Itsukishima Shrine in Hiroshima Pref. and Kasuga Shrine in Nara.
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Established in 702 and nicknamed "Kei-san," Kehi Jingu is a major shrine in the Hokuriku Region.
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Built in 1645, the wooden torii is an Important Cultural Property and World War II survivor.
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Kehi Shrine's torii is 11 m high. One of Japan's three most famous wooden toriis. The other two being Miyajima's Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Pref. and Kasuga Shrine in Nara.
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Long line from the torii to the shrine on Jan. 1, 2016.
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Purify your hands and mouth.
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Getting closer to the main shrine.
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Long line.
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Second torii before the main shrine.
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Kehi Shrine
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Kehi Jingu's main shrine. Kehi Jingu is dedicated to a number of gods including Emperor Chuai and Empress Jingu. So the Imperial Crest is all over the place.
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It took about 35 min. to get here for what would normally be a one-min. walk. Five bell ringers for worshippers.
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Inside the main shrine.
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The place to buy lucky charms.
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Brisk business for amulets and omamori.
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Otorii ema from Kehi Jingu.
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Another ema tablet for 2016, the Year of the Monkey
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Year of the Monkey ema from Kehi Jingu.
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Omikuji fortunes
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Omikuji fortunes
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Statue of Basho, haiku poet
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No snow, but a few puddles.
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JR Obama Line at Tsuruga Station in Fukui Prefecture, the line's terminus. From Tsuruga, it takes 60 to 70 min. to Obama.
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Obama Station
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Obama Station
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"I love Obama" banners decorate the main drags in central Obama.
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"I love Obama" banner
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Some shops along the main drag (Ote-dori and Hamakaze-dori) have these notices in support of Barack Obama, world peace, and cultural exchange.
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Some shops along Hamakaze-dori shopping arcade have these congratulatory notices for President Barack Obama.
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Obama support signs on a hotel entrance in Obama, on Jan. 20, 2009, the Inauguration Day. This is probably the hotel where the Obama booster members would watch the inauguration live on TV at 1 am.
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Obama merchandise and souvenirs, for both Obama and Barack Obama are sold at a few stores in Obama. This store called Wakasa-ya, on Hamakaze-dori, has the largest selection of Obama goods. A short walk from Obama Station.
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Wakasa-ya souvenir shop on Hamakaze-dori. 若狭屋 はまかぜ通り
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Wakasa-ya souvenir shop
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"I love Obama" sticker on store window. This logo is
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A bust of Barack Obama outside the Wakasa-ya souvenir shop in Obama, Fukui. Made by a local plasterer in 2008. Not a very good likeness.
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A bust of Barack Obama outside the Wakasa-ya souvenir shop in Obama, Fukui.
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The Wakasa-ya shop displays snapshots of past activities of the Obama booster association.
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Some presidential campaign memorabilia in a store corner.
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"I love Obama" T-shirts for 2500 yen.
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"I love Obama" T-shirts and banners. The banner is only 1200 yen (excluding the pole).
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"I love Obama" headbands for 600 yen.
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A copy of the letter from presidential candidate Barack Obama to the city of Obama, Fukui Prefecture. Dated Feb. 21, 2008. Click on thumbnail to see full text.
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"I love Obama" manju bean cakes, but only the back of his head is imprinted on the manju.
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More Obama manju
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Obama senbei crackers
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Obama book in Japanese. His election victory speech in Japanese.
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Manju at the kiosk at Obama Station.
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Inside Wakasa-ya shop, there's an application form to join the Obama for Obama Association (Obama wo Katte ni Oen Suru Kai).
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Application form to join the Obama Informal Booster Association (Obama wo Katte ni Oen Suru Kai). オバマを勝手に応援する会
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Laquered chopsticks with the "I love Obama" logo.
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Laquered chopsticks with the "I love Obama" logo. Laquerware is one of Obama's local specialties.
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On Jan. 20, 2009, the US Presidential Inauguration Day for Hawaii-born Barack Obama, the city of Obama in Fukui held a special event at Hagaji temple. 羽賀寺
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Hagaji temple is one of Obama's major temples with Important Cultural Properties including an 11-face Kannon statue.
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Path to Hagaji temple's main Hondo hall.
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Hagaji's temple bell.
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Hagaji temple's Hondo main hall where the 11-face Kannon statue is worshipped. This is the main venue for Obama's Inauguration Day event.
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Near the Hondo hall were tents selling Obama food and merchandise. The sign celebrates the birth of US President Obama.
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Obama goods included sake rice wine.
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Obama sake
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Obama confections such as manju, this time with the face imprinted (instead of the back of the head). Passed out for free.
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Obama burgers were passed out free to the people attending the event. Free soft drinks (hot) also helped in warming my hands.
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Obama rolled maki-sushi on sale.
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Obama soba noodles, 500 yen per bag.
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Dried bread in cans.
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Obama chopsticks. These were the more expensive ones costing around 1900 yen.
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Obama's Inauguration Day event was called "Going Beyond the Seven Seas--Peace Bell Ringing for the World. 七つの海を超えて、世界にとどけ平和の鐘
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The event started at 6:30 pm when it was quite dark (the actual inauguration ceremonies in Washington, DC would start some hours later at around 2 am that night, Japan time).
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The event started with singing by a local group called Anyone Brother's Band. They sang a song called "Obama is Beautiful World!"
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Later, Obama's mascot Nana-chan (a cat with mackerel fish stripes) joined in and they sang the mascot's song.
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Next on the program was a letter to Barack Obama read aloud by the chairman of the Obama for Obama Association. After reading it, he put the letter in an envelope to be mailed to the US President.
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Then a woman from the Obama Girls hula troupe read a message from Obama Mayor Koji Matsuzaki. The mayor, of course, hopes that Barack will visit Obama someday. (Toshio Murakami is no longer mayor.)
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At 7 pm, fireworks were launched near the temple as the signal to start ringing the Hagaji temple bell. About eight temples in Obama (as well as in Nagasaki where there is Obama Onsen spa) started ringing the temple bell at 7 pm for world peace.
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Various people rang it a total of seven times to spread peace over the seven oceans of the world. The temple priest was the first to strike the bell.
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The temple priest prays after ringing the bell.
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Other people who rang the bell included members of the Obama Girls who were to perform later.
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After the bell ringing, a large local choir sang Beethoven, including three professional soloists who sang for free.
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They sang "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.
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After the choir, the Obama Girls hula dancers took over the stage and danced two songs. For someone like me from Hawaii, it was trippy to see hula dancing in a Buddhist temple.
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Obama Girls dance the hula. The first number was a Japanese rendition of "Sophisticated Hula" called "Tsuki no Yoru wa" (The Moon at Night).
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Also see my video at YouTube. おばま ガールズ
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The Obama Girls (and Boys) were formed because of Barack being born and mainly raised in Hawaii. The Obama Girls will travel to Hawaii (at their own expense) to perform as well.
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This event drew quite a few press people, and it was reported in most major Japanese newspapers and a few foreign media.
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Look at this, hula dancing in a Japanese Buddhist temple in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, Japan.
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The second number was "Kaimana Hila" sung in Hawaiian. Kaimana Hila means Diamond Head (the famous mountain/crater in Honolulu). It's a standard hula number.
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It must have been cold for these dancers dressed for a tropical setting. The temperature was slightly above freezing.
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The back of their T-shirt reads "I love Obama -- Obama Girls."
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Right after their performance ended at 7:25 pm, I had to leave to catch the last train home. I missed seeing the Obama Boys who also danced. The event ended at 8 pm. Also see my video at YouTube.
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To Obama via JR Obama Line (Tsuruga Station).
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JR Obama Line
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JR Obama Station
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JR Obama Station platform
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Welcome to Obama
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JR Obama Station exit
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JR Obama Station
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Sign urging the construction of a train line to Obama via Shiga Prefecture.
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JR Obama Station entrance
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Train schedule for Obama Station. Very few train runs, about once an hour or less.
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JR Obama Station and taxis.
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Right near the exit of Obama Station is the tourist information office where you can obtain maps, pamphlets, and ask questions.
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Main drag (Hamakaze-dori) from Obama Station
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Main drag (Ote-dori) from Obama Station. 大手通り
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Mermaid on mailbox
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Obama Castle remains. Only the stone foundation and a few stone walls remain. Obama Castle was built by Kyogoku Takatsugu in 1601 after he was awarded the Wakasa domain for his service during the Battle of Sekigahara.
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Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower. No structure remain. No moats remain either, except for the two rivers which served as a natural moat.
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Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower. After the Kyogoku Clan moved to Izumo (Shimane Pref.), Sakai Tadakatsu took up residence in 1634 and his clan lived in the castle until the Meiji Restoration.
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Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower. Lord Sakai Tadakatsu built the main castle tower in 1636. 小浜城跡
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On top of Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower.
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View from Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower.
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Whoever owned the castle land apparently sold off some house lots.
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Obama Castle wall
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