No matter your politics, our 44th president of the United States of America, Mr. Barak Obama, shares the namesake with Japan's chopsticks capital, Obama city in the Fukui prefecture. It faces Wakasa Bay due north (The famous Wakasa chopsticks are named after Wakasa Bay). A small city of about 33,000 people, the name Obama means "little beach" in Japanese. Over the centuries, the location of Obama served as a waypoint for travelers passing through between China and Kyoto as Obama was the best and closest natural harbor, and is considered the east end of the
silk road and the front gate to Japan.
has received publicity here in the USA because of our President's name. When Obama was a Senator he gave an interview in 2006 with the Japanese television network TBS. In the interview he said that when passing through customs in the Narita Airport, the official inspecting his visa said he was from Obama. When Obama City Hall heard about the interview mayor Toshio Murakami sent Senator Obama a set of the city's famous lacquer chopsticks.
80% of Japan's total lacquered chopsticks are produced in the city of
Obama. The most highly prized and famous of chopsticks from Obama are the luxury Wakasa nuri-bashi (lacquered chopsticks). Lacquer, seashell, gold and silver leaves are attached to the base and coated with many layers of lacquer. Each layer of lacquer has a different color. After the lacquer dries, it is ground until the colors appear on the surface and a beautiful pattern emerges. The production process takes a very long time, usually a few months.
Obama you can stroll the neighborhoods, passing more than 130 ancient temples, and see shop after shop filled with gorgeous chopsticks. Sometimes you can see the craftsmen making the chopsticks, applying lacquer or grinding and polishing the chopsticks to their final form.
While in Obama you have to visit the Chopstick Museum and Gift Shop.
There you will see the traditional craft of chopstick manufacture and
an exhibit of over 3,000 chopsticks. You can experience making your own
original chopsticks which is quite popular among visitors. See the
Fukui travel website (in English) for more details. Open 7 days a week. Admission required. View Google Map of location. Phone 0770-52-1733, non-English website www.wakasa-hashi.com.
Obama can be reached from Osaka or Nagoya in about 2-3 hours by bus. See the Obama city's official website at www1.city.obama.fukui.jp/english/ for more information on traveling. Find chopsticks made in Obama, Japan on our chopsticks shopping site Everything Chopsticks.