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Japanese island stops waterfall naming campaign after locals say it already has one

Photographer Futoshi Hamada, right, Amami Mayor Tsuyoshi Asayama, and Deputy Mayor Misao Higashi, left, are seen introducing the newly confirmed waterfall at the city hall in Amami, Kagoshima Prefecture on Sept. 10, 2021. (Mainichi/Kazuaki Kanda)

AMAMI, Kagoshima -- The city of Amami on the southwest Japan island of Amami-Oshima, in Kagoshima Prefecture, canceled a national campaign on Sept. 21 gathering names for a 181-meter waterfall confirmed to be the Kyushu region's largest, after it emerged that the landmark already has names locally.

    The large waterfall on Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture that was subject to a naming campaign is seen in this image provided Futoshi Hamada.

    Kominato residents' association lobbied the Amami Municipal Government to suspend the campaign. Now, the local government plans to prioritize the views of locals in deciding on the name.

    According to the head of the residents' association, based in the city's Nazekominato neighborhood, the waterfall's existence was already known among locals. It reportedly came to be known as "Kurukichi no Taki," translating roughly to black rock falls, and also "Fuchiburu no Taki," or Fuchiburu falls, after the settlement Futsuburu once located at the top of the falls.

    But the city government's position was that "although numerous names are posited to exist, there is no unified name." As a result, it made a call for people nationwide to submit names for the falls when it announced their existence on Sept. 10. The deadline for submissions was to be Oct. 8. It had reportedly received around 3,500 suggestions by the time it accepted the residents' association's requests that calls for submissions be stopped.

    There was no consultation or other investigations with local people ahead of the call for names. Amami Mayor Tsuyoshi Asayama issued a statement of apology: "The checks ahead of it were not sufficient, and we have caused concern for local people." The residents' association head said that "as a region, we're relieved."

    (Japanese original by Kazuaki Kanda, Amami Local Bureau)

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