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.