JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - FUKUI 福井県
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Statue of castle founder and 1st lord, Yuki Hideyasu 結城秀康435 views
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To Obama via JR Obama Line (Tsuruga Station).399 views
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Maruoka Castle tower351 views
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Line to board the free shuttle bus from Tsuruga Station to Kehi no Matsubara Beach.350 viewsThe waiting time was minimal since buses kept coming often. They chartered buses from numerous bus companies.
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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. 341 viewsTojimbo is accessible by bus from JR Awara Onsen Station on the Hokuriku Line.
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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.332 views
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Huge rock columns stand about 9 stories (25 meters) high.317 views
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Maruoka Castle291 views
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Roof tiles made of stone on Maruoka Castle287 views
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At 6:30 pm, people started releasing their candlelit lanterns into the ocean. Tsuruga, Fukui Pref.280 views
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Toro nagashi at Kehi no Matsubara Beach in Tsuruga, Fukui Pref.271 views
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Statue of Emperor Keitai in Asuwayama Park 継体天皇像261 viewsThe 26th Emperor of Japan is said to have hailed from Echizen Province.
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As it got darker, the scene got prettier.257 views
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Bungee jumping is probably not possible here.248 views
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Toro nagashi and fireworks at Tsuruga, Fukui Pref.246 views
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Tojinbo sign indicating the Echizen-Kaga Coastal Quasi-National Park243 views
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Kehi no Matsubara beach, one of Japan's three most famous pine tree beaches.207 viewsThe other two being Miho no Matsubara in Shizuoka and Karatsu in Saga Pref.
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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.202 views
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Bright fireworks light up the audience on the beach.199 views
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Saba-zushi or rice topped with mackerel, a local specialty in Obama, Fukui.196 views
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JR Tsuruga Station192 views
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Line for the free shuttle bus back to Tsuruga Station. They had many shuttle buses so we didn't have to wait long.190 viewsIt was a very efficient and quick operation. Although I did leave early.
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Minamigawa River178 views
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Statue of Sugita Genpaku as a child, in front of the public hospital. 杉田 玄白171 views
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JR Fukui Station169 views
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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.169 views
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Statue of Sugita Genpaku, a Dutch studies scholar who studied medicine. He was from Obama. 杉田 玄白168 views
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The fireworks were brilliant and world-class, included a few waterborne "half-dome" fireworks.165 views
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The back of their T-shirt reads "I love Obama -- Obama Girls."165 views
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Streetcar station164 views
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By 7:30 pm, it was completely dark.160 views
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The lanterns say "For the Spirits of Past Generations."152 views
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Shopping road151 views
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Road in front of Fukui Station150 views
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Mall in front of Fukui Station148 views
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Great match with the lit lanterns and fireworks.146 views
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Crowd on Kehi no Matsubara Beach145 views
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Whoever thought of combining toro nagashi with fireworks was a genius.142 views
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Lanterns along the jetty.141 views
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The crowd stretched to the very far side of the bay.140 views
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You could buy a lantern for 500 yen. Choice of three colors: Red, blue, and yellow.139 views
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Sign encouraging the construction of the shinkansen to Fukui.136 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.136 views
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Fireworks started at 7:30 pm.135 views
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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 Castle133 viewsPhoto: Way to Maruoka Castle from the bus stop.
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Bus stop for Maruoka Castle130 viewsTakes about 40-50 min. from Fukui Station.
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Bridge to castle grounds. 5-min. walk from Fukui Station.130 views
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Fukui Shrine130 views
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Fukui Shrine 福井神社128 views
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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.128 views
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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.125 views
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Fukui Shrine124 views
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I was sitting on a jetty where many lanterns got stuck. We could feel the hot air from the candles.123 views
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Also see the video at YouTube.122 views
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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.120 views
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15-min. walk from the bus stop to the beach. People everywhere.119 views
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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.118 views
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Obama Station117 views
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Kasumiga-jo Park, noted for cherry blossoms.116 views
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"I love Obama" banners decorate the main drags in central Obama. 116 views
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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.114 views
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Bridge to castle grounds with prefectural capital building looming ahead.113 views
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Obama beach, fit for swimming in summer.112 views
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Old shachi (killer whale) roof ornaments made of stone.110 viewsThe 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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"I love Obama" banner110 views
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More Obama manju110 views
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Some shops along Hamakaze-dori shopping arcade have these congratulatory notices for President Barack Obama.109 views
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Obama rolled maki-sushi on sale.109 views
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Maruoka Castle tower108 views
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Look at this, hula dancing in a Japanese Buddhist temple in Obama, Fukui Prefecture, Japan.108 views
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Hiroshige's woodblock print of Kehi Pine Beach in Tsuruga from his "Famous Views of the 60 Provinces" series.108 views
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"I love Obama" T-shirts for 2500 yen.107 views
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It must have been cold for these dancers dressed for a tropical setting. The temperature was slightly above freezing.107 views
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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. 105 views
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Mismatched buildings104 views
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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.104 views
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Obama beach104 views
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Edo Period currency103 views
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Wakasa-ya souvenir shop103 views
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Sushi restaurant in Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf. Buy sushi and eat it there with free miso soup and tea.103 views
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Entrance to castle grounds102 views
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Steps to castle tower entrance.102 views
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Stone foundation of the castle tower at one corner.102 views
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Wakasa-ya souvenir shop on Hamakaze-dori. 若狭屋 はまかぜ通り102 views
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The Wakasa-ya shop displays snapshots of past activities of the Obama booster association.102 views
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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).102 views
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Obama senbei crackers101 views
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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.101 views
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JR Obama Station101 views
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Pure and clean water well101 views
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Statue outside Obama City Hall.101 views
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1st floor of castle tower with photos of other castles.100 views
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Path to castle tower99 views
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Obama coast99 views
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"I love Obama" T-shirts and banners. The banner is only 1200 yen (excluding the pole).98 views
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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.98 views
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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.98 views
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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.98 views
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The stone marker says National Treasure Kasumiga-jo Castle.97 viewsThe castle was a National Treasure until it collapsed in the 1948 Fukui Earthquake. Now an Important Cultural Property.
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Folk History Museum97 views
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Prefectural capital building97 views
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"I love Obama" sticker on store window. This logo is 97 views
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A bust of Barack Obama outside the Wakasa-ya souvenir shop in Obama, Fukui.97 views
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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.97 views
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Side of castle96 views
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"I love Obama" manju bean cakes, but only the back of his head is imprinted on the manju.96 views
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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.96 views
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Along the Obama waterfront is this Mermaid Terrace.96 views
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Monuments95 views
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Also see my video at YouTube. おばま ガールズ95 views
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Statue of Lord Sakai Tadakatsu outside Obama City Hall. Tadakatsu also served as Tairo, of Chief Minister in the Tokugawa government during 1638 to 1656.95 views
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Maruoka Castle tower94 views
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1st floor of castle tower94 viewsThe steep stairs go to the 2nd floor.
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Ceiling on top floor94 views
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Folk History Museum adjacent to the castle. 歴史民俗資料館94 views
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Stairs to castle tower foundation94 views
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Valley between the prefectural capital (left) and police department (right).94 views
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The castle tower suffered a major fire in 1669, and it was never rebuilt.94 views
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Steps to go down.94 views
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Laquered chopsticks with the "I love Obama" logo.94 views
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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!"94 views
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JR Obama Line94 views
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Inside Obama City Hall.94 views
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The veranda is narrow and the fence is low.93 views
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Inside Folk History Museum93 views
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Pedestrian bridge93 views
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Obama Station93 views
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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.93 views
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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).93 views
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View from castle tower92 views
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Atop the castle tower foundation (lower level)92 views
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Another stone foundation which was partially damaged during the 1948 Fukui Easrthquake.92 views
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Some presidential campaign memorabilia in a store corner.92 views
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Laquered chopsticks with the "I love Obama" logo. Laquerware is one of Obama's local specialties.92 views
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Obama goods included sake rice wine.92 views
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Obama waterfront92 views
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Izumi-cho shopping arcade was also the starting point of the Saba Kaido road to Kyoto. During the Edo Period, this road was used by saba (mackerel fish) merchants traveling to sell their fish. The road was actually a network of roads. 92 views
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2nd floor91 views
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Top floor91 views
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Well related to the castle's mist.91 views
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JR Obama Station entrance91 views
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Mermaid Terrace.91 views
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Roof tiles made of stone (2nd floor)90 views
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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.90 views
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Layout of the original Obama Castle sandwiched between two rivers.90 views
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Mermaid Terrace90 views
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Entrance to castle tower89 views
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Stairway on top floor89 views
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Top floor89 views
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Veranda (closed to visitors)89 views
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Top of castle tower foundation. Grassy, but uneven ground.89 views
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Well89 views
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Wing Terrace89 views
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1st floor of castle tower88 views
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Steps to upper level of castle tower foundation88 views
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Another bridge 廊下橋88 views
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Obama book in Japanese. His election victory speech in Japanese.88 views
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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.88 views
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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.88 views
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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88 views
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Inside Izumi-cho shopping arcade where they sell mostly seafood.88 views
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Old-style "bay window?"87 views
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"Sama" hole to shoot weapons (arrows or guns)87 views
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"I love Obama" headbands for 600 yen.87 views
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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87 views
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Mermaid on mailbox87 views
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Roof tiles made of stone (rare)86 views
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Stairs to top floor86 views
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Ceiling on top floor86 views
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Lower stone wall86 views
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Stairs going down86 views
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Stone wall submerged in moat.86 views
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View of moat from the corner of castle tower foundation.86 views
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Fukui police HQ and castle wall86 views
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Manju at the kiosk at Obama Station.86 views
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On top of Obama Castle stone foundation for the main castle tower.86 views
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Obama coast86 views
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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85 views
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Hagaji temple is one of Obama's major temples with Important Cultural Properties including an 11-face Kannon statue.85 views
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Hagaji's temple bell.85 views
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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.)85 views
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JR Obama Station exit85 views
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JR Obama Station and taxis.85 views
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Main drag (Ote-dori) from Obama Station. 大手通り85 views
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Near the water is Wakasa Fisherman's Wharf, housing restaurants, souvenir shops, and a tour boat ticket office.85 views
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Boat cruise to Sotomo Rocks on the nearby coast.85 views
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Dried bread in cans.84 views
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Inside the Saba Kaido Museum.84 views
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Ceiling on top floor83 views
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Castle tower foundation83 views
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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).83 views
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Obama chopsticks. These were the more expensive ones costing around 1900 yen.83 views
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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83 views
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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.83 views
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Train schedule for Obama Station. Very few train runs, about once an hour or less.83 views
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Private homes are built right up to the castle wall.83 views
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Entrance to Izumi-cho shopping arcade.83 views
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Obama sake82 views
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They sang "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.82 views
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