When we talk about something that reminds people of Japanese summers, it's definitely fireworks. Every year when summer arrives, fireworks festivals are held all around the country. The thunderous roar of the fireworks and the sight of them filling up the sky with color packs a punch. Here are 5 recommended fireworks festivals to consider.
1. Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Taito-ku, Tokyo)
The Sumida River Fireworks Festival is famous nationwide. It's a festival with a long history, having started in 1733 (mid-Edo period), and is held every year on the last Saturday of July. This year it will be on July 30th. It's a popular festival that attracts around a million people a year. The festival is split into two locations, with one location stretching from downstream of Sakurabashi Bridge to upstream of Kototoibashi Bridge, while the second location is downstream of Komagatabashi Bridge to upstream of Umayabashi Bridge. The fireworks lit up in both locations add up to around 20,000 fireworks are lit up. In the first location, 9,500 fireworks are launched, including 200 by fireworks competitors, and you can see very artistic fireworks. The fireworks in the second location are lit up for a shorter time than the first so you can see quite a lot of them for an impressive sight. They light up around 1,000 fireworks in the first five minutes of the festival one after the other so that's especially breathtaking. It gets very crowded so people that want to calmly see the festival should head over with lots of time.
2. Zenkoku Hanabi Kyougi Taikai (Daisen, Akita)
The Zenkoku Hanabi Kyougi Taikai, also called the Omagari no Hanabi, is a fireworks festival with a long history that started in 1910 and it is considered one of Japan's top three fireworks festivals. It's said to be the most influential fireworks festival in Japan, and it's held on the fourth Saturday of August every year. This year it falls on August 27th. It's split up into three parts, something that is very rare for fireworks festivals: afternoon fireworks, fireworks with a diameter of 30cm, and creative fireworks. The top winner will receive the Prime Minister's Prize. Pyrotechnicians from around the country come to compete, so the fireworks are of course high quality and no matter their color, size, or type, they're all incredible. Among them, the fireworks in the creative fireworks section will make you emotional with their loveliness since it's not just about the beauty of fireworks but their rhythm, three-dimensionality, and creativity. Every year about 800,000 people come to see this festival, so it gets very crowded. Please go with plenty of time.
3. Nagaoka Matsuri Daihanabi Taikai (Nagaoka, Niigata)
The Nagaoka Matsuri Daihanabi Taikai held every August 2nd and 3rd is the main event of the Nagaoka Matsuri festival, and is considered another one of Japan's top three fireworks festivals. You can enjoy a huge variety of large fireworks here that you can't in other places, such as the famous 3-shakutama fireworks (fireworks that have a diameter of 90cm that reach from 600-880m in the air) that bloom flowers against the summer night sky; the wide-scale starmine in which 10-100 fireworks are shot repeatedly into the air from 5 places; the Kome-hyappyo fireworks in which 100 fireworks are shot into the air; the Phoenix fireworks that are launched with wishes for revival, and more. The number of fireworks launched over the 2 days are an astounding 20,000! This fireworks festival was chosen as the top festival by famous pyrotechnicians in 2015, so please make your way over to this charming festival.
4. Miyajima Suichuu Hanabi Taikai (Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima)
Miyajima Suichuu Hanabi Taikai, held every August 11th, is a fireworks festival that uses Miyajima, the island on which the World Culture and Heritage site Itsukushima Shrine sits. On an average year, they launch 200 fireworks from the water, and around 5,000 fireworks in total including some that have 30cm diameter. The fireworks launched from a boat in the water, unlike those launched at sea, explode in a half-circle above the water so you can see them in a closer range than normal fireworks for an impressive sight. The beautiful arcs created by light behind the huge floating torii gate and main building of Itsukushima Shrine makes for such a fantastic sight the beauty will make you lose all words. Every year many photography lovers come for the perfect location to see a World Culture and Heritage site competing with fireworks. This is a recommended event that will definitely become a lifelong memory.
5. Tsuchiura Zenkoku Hanabi Kyougi Taikai (Tsuchiura, Ibaraki)
Tsuchiura Zenkoku Hanabi Kyougi Taikai is a traditional fireworks festival that has been held since 1925 on the first Saturday of every October. It's one of the top three fireworks festivals along with Omagari no Hanabi and the Nagaoka fireworks festivals, so it's a huge fireworks competition where pyrotechnicians from around the country gather. There are 3 different competitions depending on the type of fireworks. About 20,000 fireworks are launched into the night sky without barely a pause to create a masterpiece. Also, the side Wide-scale Starmine Tsuchiura Hanabi Zukushi fireworks launched by the city of Tsuchiura and the festival's executive committee is a large-scale starmine that uses the entirety of the launching area so the sight packs a punch! About 1,000 stores set up stalls, so it truly feels like a festival. Please bring yourself to this festival of a scale appropriate to close Japan's firework season.
Other than the festivals here, during Japanese summers fireworks festivals are held all around the country. For those of you that have plans to visit in the summer, please make your way to one of them! It will definitely become a lovely memory that you can't forget.
*No matter which festival you go to, please be aware that public transportation and the venue will be extremely crowded and you should expect changes in traffic. Those who desire to go, please go with plenty of time and patience.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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