Obama, Japan, roots for accidental namesake
A poster with "I Love Obama"
If you're traveling through Fukui Prefecture over the coming weeks, don't be surprised if you see signs, posters or even souvenir goods that say "Obama for Obama"
US presidential candidate Barack Obama is enjoying a groundswell of enthusiasm in a small city in western Japan, which is delighted to share his name. Obama, Japan, is rooting for candidate
Obama, hoping that if he becomes the US president he will put this ancient fishing town of 32,000 people firmly on the tourist map and, just maybe, choose it for an international summit.
Supporters in Obama -- which means "small shore" in Japanese -- have held parties to watch election results, put up posters wishing the senator luck and plan a special batch of the town's "manju" sweets bearing his likeness.
"At first we were more low-key as Hillary Clinton looked to be ahead, but now we see he is getting more popular," Obama Mayor Toshio Murakami said.
"I give him an 80 percent chance of becoming president," the 75-year-old said with a proud grin.
Murakami sent a letter last year to Obama, enclosing a set of lacquer chopsticks, a famous product of this town on the Sea of Japan (East Sea) in Fukui prefecture's Wakasa region.
"I will present you the chopsticks of Wakasa paint and I am glad if you use it habitually," Murakami said in the English-language letter. "I wish you the best of health and success."
Murakami noted that Barack Obama's birthday, August 4, happens to be "Chopsticks Day" in the city.
Murakami is now preparing another package for the candidate that will include a good-luck charm from the local Obama Shrine.
"For the first letter I found his address on the Internet, so I don't know if he got it," Murakami said. "But this time I asked the (US) embassy for his exact address, so I'm sure he'll get it."
Lest cynics find the city's efforts naive, it was Obama himself who first drew attention to the connection.
Obama, speaking to Japan's TBS network in December 2006, said that when he flew once to Tokyo, an officer stamping his passport told him of the town.
"He looked up at me and said, 'I'm from Obama,'" the senator said.
如果你在未来几周去日本福井县旅游，看见带有“Obama for Obama”的标识、海报或纪念品，千万不要惊讶。