Its Japanese name means literally "little beach," and the city promotes itself as "Nara by the Sea," for its numerous historic temples and shrines. For most of its history a fishing town, the city now supports itself primarily by tourism.
Obama, in a mixture of giddy silliness and self-promotion, latched on to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign in the United States, and local businesses started selling Barack Obama merchandise and hosting primary watch parties. The craze had its origins in a 2006 interview in Japan with then Senator Obama, when he remarked that his customs official at the airport had been from the city of Obama. Hearing this, the Obama city hall sent the senator gifts of Wasaka Agate lacquered chopsticks, as well as a DVD about the city. Upon his securing of the presidency in November 2008, the city celebrated with dancing by the "Obama Girls," a troupe of hula dancers celebrating Obama's Hawaiian upbringing, and by building a commemorative statue of the president-elect in front of City Hall.
Obama city is on the JR Obama Line which runs from Tsuruga station (One hour, ¥950). Services are infrequent, but they are timed to meet most limited express trains that stop at Tsuruga. With a change in Tsuruga, you can reach Obama from Kyoto in as little as 2 hours (¥4180) and Osaka in 2 1/2 hours (¥5550).
From Tokyo, the easiest way to reach Obama is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen Hikari service to Maibara, the Shirasagi limited express train to Tsuruga, then the JR Obama Line. If timed perfectly you can reach Obama in just over four hours (¥14,050).
The Japan Rail Pass is valid for all of these journeys.
When visiting, you should seek out the city's traditional Wasaka Agate crafts and lacquer ware. They have a bright red color, produced by burning basic agate stone and then polishing it with sand. The lacquer ware is the luxury souvenir of choice; it is created by highly skilled craftsmen in a lengthy process which developed 400 years ago in the city.