Namesake town parties into night

by Eric Johnston

The Fukui Prefecture town that shares its name with new U.S. President Barack Obama celebrated his inauguration Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

About 300 people, including members of the Obama for Obama support group, stayed up late to watch the inauguration, which was broadcast at about 1 a.m. Wednesday. A few hours earlier, there was a fireworks display and a performance of “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at a local temple.

“Hopefully, President Obama will visit Obama when he comes to Japan,” said Seiji Fujiwara, who heads the group.

Since early last year, Fujiwara’s group has used the Obama campaign and his subsequent election to promote the seaside town. The president’s face has appeared on everything from T-shirts to cookies.

The city sent locally made gifts to the Obama campaign and an official letter of invitation to visit following the election in November. The campaign sent back a letter thanking them for the gifts, but both Fujiwara and the town say there has been no reply regarding the invitation.